Tom Waits is an American singer/songwriter, composer and actor. He posesses one of the most distinctive voices in music; described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."
With this trademark growl, his fusing of music styles such as blues, jazz, rock, folk and vaudeville, his experimental tendencies, wit and charisma, Waits has built up a distinctive musical persona.
Waits began recording and performing in the late 60's/early 70's. In 1972, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and got him into the studio to record some demo tracks. The resulting material was later released as "The Early Years Vols. 1 & 2" on the Bizarre/Straight label (owned by Zappa and Cohen). Waits' formal recording debut came with "Closing Time" (1973) on Asylum Records. This album contained the track "Ol' 55," which was covered by labelmates The Eagles on their "On the Border" album. The bulk of his early material was in the classic singer songwriter vein - reminiscent of other artists of the period like Randy Newman and Jackson Browne. What made Waits stand out, even in this early period, was his lyrical content and delivery. The focus was on desperate, lowlife characters and he delivered his music with a persona that seemed to embody the ...