Tom WaitsThomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. Waits' music is characterized by his distinctive deep, gravelly singing voice and lyrics focusing on the underside of U.S. society. During the 1970s, he worked primarily in jazz, but since the 1980s his music has reflected greater influence from blues, vaudeville, and experimental genres.
Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family in California. Inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, as a teenager he began singing on the San Diego folk music scene. Relocating to Los Angeles in 1972, he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records. His first albums, the jazz-oriented ''Closing Time'' (1973) and ''The Heart of Saturday Night'' (1974), reflected his lyrical interest in nightlife, poverty, and criminality. Repeatedly touring the U.S., Europe, and Japan, he attracted greater critical recognition and commercial success with ''Small Change'' (1976), which he followed with ''Blue Valentine'' (1978) and ''Heartattack and Vine'' (1980). He produced the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola's 1981 film ''One from the Heart'' and subsequently made cameo appearances in several Coppola films.
In 1980, Waits married Kathleen Brennan, broke from his manager and record label, and moved to New York City. Under Brennan's encouragement, he pursued a new, more experimental and eclectic musical aesthetic influenced by the work of Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart. This was reflected in a series of albums released by Island Records: ''Swordfishtrombones'' (1983), ''Rain Dogs'' (1985), and ''Franks Wild Years'' (1987). He continued appearing in film, taking a leading role in Jim Jarmusch's ''Down by Law'' (1986). In the 1990s, his albums ''Bone Machine'' (1992), ''The Black Rider'' (1993), and ''Mule Variations'' (1999) earned him increasing critical acclaim and various Grammy Awards. In the late 1990s, he switched to the record label Anti-, who released ''Blood Money'' (2002), ''Alice'' (2002), ''Real Gone'' (2004), and ''Bad as Me'' (2011).
Waits' albums have met with mixed commercial success in the U.S., although they have occasionally achieved gold status in other countries. He has a cult following and has influenced many singer-songwriters, despite having little radio or music video support. In 2011, Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was included among the 2010 list of ''Rolling Stone''s 100 Greatest Singers, as well as the 2015 list of ''Rolling Stone''s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Provided by Wikipedia