American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor Tom Waits was born on this day, December 7 in 1949. His distinctive voice, is described 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, has helped him built up a distinctive musical persona, and over the years his trademark growl has been combined with a variety of pre-rock music styles such as blues, jazz, and vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music.Waits has also worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films, including Down by Law and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.
Lyrically, Waits’ songs frequently present atmospheric portrayals of grotesque, often seedy characters and places—although he has also shown a penchant for more conventional ballads. He has a cult following and has influenced subsequent songwriters despite having little radio or music video support. His songs are best-known through cover versions by more commercial artists: “Jersey Girl”, performed by Bruce Springsteen, “Ol’ ’55″, performed by the Eagles, and “Downtown Train”, performed by Rod Stewart.
Although Waits’ albums have met with mixed commercial success in his native United States, they have occasionally achieved gold album sales status in other countries. He has been nominated for a number of major music awards and has won Grammy Awards for two albums, Bone Machine and Mule Variations. In 2011, Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.