It's Not Unusual

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"It's Not Unusual"
Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual.jpg
Single by Tom Jones
from the album Along Came Jones (It's Not Unusual)
B-side"To Wait for Love" (Bacharach-David)
Released22 January 1965 (UK)
March 1965 (US)
Recorded11 November 1964, Decca Studios, West Hampstead
Producer(s)Peter Sullivan[1]
Tom Jones singles chronology
"Chills and Fever"
"It's Not Unusual"
"Once Upon a Time"

"It's Not Unusual" is a song written by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, first recorded by a then-unknown Tom Jones,[2] after having first been offered to Sandie Shaw.[1] Jones recorded what was intended to be a demo for Shaw, but when she heard it she was so impressed with Jones's delivery that she declined the song and recommended that Jones release it himself. The record was the second Decca single Jones released,[3] reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1965.[4][5] It was also the first hit for Jones in the US, peaking at No. 10 in May of that year. The single was released in the US on the Parrot label and also reached number 3 on Billboard's easy listening chart. The BBC initially refused to play the song because of Jones’s sexy image, but it was played by UK pirate radio. Jones performed the song several times on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US, first on 2 May 1965, then again on 13 June 1965. He sang the song again on the show when he returned on 21 April 1968.[6]

Jones later used this song as the theme for his late 1960s–early 1970s television musical variety series This Is Tom Jones. It has since become his signature song.[according to whom?]

The first studio version of the song was subsequently released in 1995 as part of the compilation album The Legendary Tom Jones - 30th Anniversary Album.

Musical arrangement and recording[edit]

The song's musical arranger was Les Reed. Although the guitar has been cited as having been provided by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Reed has stated that the only guitarist was Joe Moretti, who is known for his playing on "Shakin' All Over" and "Brand New Cadillac". Page does list the session in his online discography, however.[7] Drums were played by Scottish percussionist Andy White, who had previously drummed for The Beatles.[8] or possibly by Ronnie Verrell,[9] although a claim has also been made by Alan Grahame.[10]

Jones's group "Tom Jones and the Squires" were missing their regular keyboard player for the session. Future AC/DC drummer Chris Slade ran across the street to the "La Giaconda" coffee house, and recruited the then-unknown Reginald Dwight (later to adopt the stage name Elton John) for the one-day recording session.[11]


As was standard practice in the 1960s, session musicians were used instead of Jones's regular backing band. There are conflicting reports about who actually played on the record, but the most likely candidates are:[9]

The late Brian Brocklehurst[who?] stated in 1995 that he played the upright bass on both "It's Not Unusual" and "Downtown".[citation needed]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

References in popular culture[edit]

The song enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-1990s, as it was used in the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on several occasions. It typically features Carlton Banks, one of the lead characters, lip-syncing to the lyrics and performing comedic choreography. Jones had guest-starred on the show on a few occasions, also performing and dancing alongside Banks in the episodes. Jones later made a guest appearance in the third season episode 'The Alma Matter' as Banks' guardian angel, who performed the song with Banks' actor Alfonso Ribeiro.[citation needed]

On The Simpsons episode "Marge Gets a Job", Jones guest stars as himself and performs the song for Marge and Homer at the end of the episode. It was also featured in the episode "The War of the Simpsons".

The song also featured in Will & Grace in the episode "The Honeymoon's Over", with Karen Walker, a lead character, loudly sings along over her headphones. Karen is then found passed out on the couch with the song still on repeat, to which Grace claims: 'Well, this is unusual'. The song is also featured in the 1996 movie Mars Attacks!, in which Jones has a cameo role as himself.

Comedian John Mulaney references the song in his bit "The Salt and Pepper Diner", from his stand-up special entitled The Top Part.

From Duck Dodgers, in the episode called, "Talent Show A Go-Go", the Dodgers steals Tom Jones' voice to win the talent show.


  1. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 89. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  2. ^ a b Time Inc (18 September 1970). LIFE. Time Inc. pp. 54–. ISSN 0024-3019.
  3. ^ Ray Broadus Browne; Pat Browne (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 448–. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 175. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ Colin Larkin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. pp. 488–. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ "Tom Jones - Ed Sullivan Show". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Sessions". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Scots percussionist paid fiver for playing drums on Beatles' debut single Love Me Do". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b Thompson 2008.
  10. ^ "BBC - Session musician tells of working with Tom Jones". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  11. ^ Slade, Chris. "Drummer". AC/DC Drummer Chris Slade - His Career. YouTube. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  12. ^ 'Song of the Week #109 - "It's Not Unusual"' Classic Pop Icons. June 4, 2012
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 24 May 1965. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – It's Not Unusual". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  16. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  17. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 6/12/65". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  19. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1965". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1965/Top 100 Songs of 1965". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1965". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Tom Jones – It's Not Unusual". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  23. ^ Mark Ribowsky (2010). The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal. Da Capo Press. pp. 329–. ISBN 0-306-81873-6.
  24. ^ Mark Bego (15 July 2004). Cher: If You Believe. Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 292–. ISBN 978-1-4616-2592-6.
  25. ^ Discogs - Sam Sorono – Sing Tom Jones' Greatest Hits


  • Thompson, Gordon (2008). Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0195333251.