SIR Tom Jones is mourning the death of his loyal wife, Linda. Their marriage lasted 59 years, despite his admission he slept with up to 250 women a year at the height of his fame.
Melinda was surrounded by loved ones including her husband, who cancelled the Asian leg of his world tour to be with her.
Sir Tom recently described her as an â€œunbelievable womanâ€, adding: â€œLinda is the love of my life.â€
Their long-lasting marriage, which began in a Welsh mining village in 1957, was nothing short of extraordinary. It is unclear whether Linda turned a blind eye to Sir Tomâ€™s decades of philandering, or just did not know the extent of it until years later.
But what is certain is that she stuck by the man she married at the age of 16.
Sir Tomâ€™s career was launched with a lie in 1964, seven years after the coupleâ€™s wedding at Pontypridd register office.
His manager Gordon Mills claimed he was a single, 22-year-old Welsh coal miner. Not only was he 24 and married, he also had a seven-year-old son, Mark. And while his father worked at the local colliery, the star had never been down a mine.
As his singing career flourished, Linda stayed firmly in the background for many years, once confiding in a friend she â€œnever felt good enough to be Tomâ€™s wifeâ€.
In his 2015 autobiography Over the Top and Back, Sir Tom told how he first fell for Linda when they were both 12. That same year he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent two years in bed convalescing.
When he recovered, Linda would smile at him as she walked to school in Treforest, South Glamorgan, but it was not until just after her 15th birthday that she agreed to date Tom, born Thomas Woodward.
They married shortly after her 16th birthday as Linda had fallen pregnant. She gave birth a month after becoming Mrs Woodward.
But Sir Tomâ€™s love for Linda seemed genuine. He wrote he had â€œnever had that feeling for anyone else, I donâ€™t think you can fall in love more than onceâ€.
It comes despite affairs including a two-year fling with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and another with then Miss World Marjorie Wallace. His liaisons with female fans were legendary. They would throw their knickers on stage in a bid to attract his attention.
On tour he had two dressing rooms â€“ one, â€œthe workbenchâ€, for servicing groupies. Yet Sir Tom, 75, also once claimed of his conquests: â€œI have never kept count.â€ His relationship with Marjorie, then 19, was uncovered in 1976 when they were pictured kissing on a beach in Barbados.
She was stripped of her Miss World crown, and when Sir Tom realised Linda was going to learn about that infidelity, he told the beauty queen it was over. Devastated Marjorie took an overdose of sleep-ing pills and ended up in a coma but survived. When she found out about their affair, Linda was understandably furious. Sir Tom said last year: â€œI stood there and took it. She chinned me. I said, â€˜Go aheadâ€™. She punched and shouted.â€
The singer has explained an arrangement they came to in the late 1960s, when Linda stopped going on the road with him, as simply: â€œShe doesnâ€™t ask.â€
But his wife did not hold back when his affairs became international news.
Linda and Sir Tom never had more children. He later revealed his wife had been left infertile by a miscarriage.
It was probably made more painful when, in 1987, it emerged the star had fathered a child with another woman.
Model Katherine Berkery had a four-day fling with Sir Tom during his US tour, resulting in the birth of son Jonathan. For 20 years Sir Tom denied the child was his, even though DNA testing had proven him to be the father. But a few years ago he spoke about the son he had never met, if only to blame his mother for seducing him. â€œI was tricked, really,â€ he said. â€œI just fell for it.â€
At the time he paid a Â£50,000 out-of-court settlement to Katherine, and Linda said she was moving back to Wales. She eventually returned to the US.
Sir Tom had moved to Los Angeles as a tax exile with his wife in 1974. In 2009 he announced the pair were returning to the UK but it never happened.
His autobiography hinted as to why, with the star claiming his wife was now agoraphobic. She stayed at home while he spent weeks or months away.
Sir Tom lived in The Savoy, London, for three months at a time during his three-year stint from 2012 on BBC One show The Voice. In 2014 he embarked on a 45-date tour of Australia and the US straight after but Linda did not join him â€“ nor when he collected his knighthood at Buckingham Palace in 2006.
In an interview last year, Sir Tomâ€™s biographer Sean Smith said that while the couple had been married more than 50 years, they had probably only spent 10 years in each otherâ€™s company.
He added: â€œLinda has her housekeeper and gardener, and sees more of them than anyone else. She hasnâ€™t flown in years and is unlikely to come back to the UK again.
â€œWhen Tomâ€™s in LA they are a retired couple in their 70s, having gentle drives and enjoying reading in the sun and TV, like a million other pensioners.â€ While Sir Tom has said: â€œI still love my wife. The longer youâ€™re married, it changes. Itâ€™s no longer a sex thing. Thereâ€™s got to be more than that for it to last.
â€œWe both came from a working-class background, we both came from the same place, so weâ€™re not like two foreign people having to explain to the other what their childhood was like.
â€œWe grew up together. To walk away from that would be terrible.â€
Asked on US TV why his affairs were left out of his memoirs, he said: â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s important. Itâ€™s not what has made me. Itâ€™s not what got you there.â€
Linda gave a solitary interview when it eventually emerged Sir Tom was not the singleton he had been portrayed as back in the 1960s. She said: â€œI feel alive when he comes though the door, whatever the time of day or night is.â€ Last year the singer was criticised when he claimed his wife has suffered depression for most of her life and had more recently â€œlost her sparkâ€. He also revealed Linda had emphysema and used a stairlift,
And trying to explain their bizarre but enduring marriage, Sir Tom added: â€œSheâ€™s the most important thing in my life. An unbelievable woman. Linda is the love of my life and she still is, even though she doesnâ€™t look like she used to. I donâ€™t look like I did, either, but I try my best.â€
He admitted preferring to talk to her on the phone. He said: â€œWhen youâ€™re face to face with somebody, you realise that time has gone on but when youâ€™re on the phone weâ€™re both young again.
â€œYouâ€™re not looking at one another, Iâ€™m looking at an old picture I carry around with me and leave by the bed.â€ -Daily Mirror