Tom Jones set for Proms debut singing soul to celebrate Stax records

Sir Tom Jones will make his first Proms appearance at a concert celebrating Stax records
Sir Tom Jones will make his first Proms appearance at a concert celebrating Stax records. Photograph: Moosburger/Rex Shutterstock

Sir Tom Jones is to make his Proms debut on the Royal Albert Hall stage singing soul to celebrate Stax Records with two surviving artists from the label, Booker T Jones and Sam Moore.

In something of a musical coup, BBC Proms organisers announced that the trio will join a summer season which already features some of the biggest names in classical music, including Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle and Nicola Benedetti.

Prom 65, however, will be dedicated to southern soul. Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra will lead an evening paying tribute to Stax, founded in Memphis in 1959, which was synonymous with the sound.

Jones said he was looking forward to what will be his first appearance in a BBC Prom. “I’ve always sung soul and I’ve always sung Stax,” he said. “I sang Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay on my television show in 1969 and I intend to sing it at this prom again!”

The prom will specifically celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Stax tour to the UK, when artists such as Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Arthur Conley and Eddie Floyd were welcomed as near royalty.

The Beatles were huge fans and sent limos to meet the Stax entourage at Heathrow airport. According to one account, when the four met guitarist Steve Cropper they stood in unison and bowed from the waist.

Sam Moore, the higher voiced half of Sam & Dave, whose biggest hit was Soul Man, said the 1967 tour was “one of the most exciting times in my life”. He added: “The love and enthusiasm from the British audiences back then was like nothing any of us had ever experienced before.

“Performing at the Proms now with some of those we influenced is spectacular. I just wish that Otis, Arthur, Al, Duck, Wayne, Andrew and Dave were here to celebrate with us ... Maybe they’re all looking down and patting their feet to the beat.”

Jones, Jones and Moore will join the previously announced Stax artists Cropper, Floyd and William Bell on stage with Holland. Other guests will include Beverley Knight, James Morrison and Ruby Turner.

Morrison said he was excited and honoured. “These guys are the legends of music for me, with the most incredible catalogue, songs I grew up loving and listening to endlessly. The chance to perform with these guys makes me feel both nervous and excited in equal parts.

“I just hope I can do them justice, but I know I’m going to enjoy myself and it will be an incredible night. Christmas comes early this year for me!”

The Stax event is one of nine Late Night Proms offering audiences alternative music to the core classical repertoire. They include the songs of Scott Walker and the first complete live performance of Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar’s concept album, Passages.

Advance tickets to the Stax show on 1 September are sold out, but it will be broadcast on Radio 3 and BBC Four.

The BBC Proms are the world’s biggest classical music festival and kick off formally on 14 July. This year’s include concerts celebrating composers Claudio Monteverdi and John Adams, and a prom in Hull which will be the first outside London since 1930.