Tom Waits (born Thomas Alan Waits, in Pomona, California, on December 7, 1949) is a prolific American singer, songwriter, composer, and actor. He started his career in the early 1970s as a singer in spit 'n' sawdust bars. Initially, he was deeply influenced by the beat generation, novelists like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, and poets like Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski. Waits is often compared to Charles Bukowski, being similar both in content and lifestyle, although Waits's views are more egalitarian than Bukowski's. Waits was unable to make a living from his music in the 70s because his classical bar music, based in pre-rock, and Americana, blues, and Vaudeville styles were not popular. Waits's voice back then was soft, warm and clear. Waits subsequently developed a devoted cult following and has influenced subsequent songwriters, despite having little radio or music video support. In fact, his songs are perhaps best known to the general public in the form of cover versions of more visible artists, such as the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart. Although Waitss albums have met with mixed commercial success in his native United States, they have occasionally achieved gold album sales status in other countries. Lyrically, Waits's songs are known for atmospheric portrayals of seedy characters and places; he sings about the losers on the streets: alcoholics, junkies, prostitutes and social outcasts, although he also includes more conventional an...
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