Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz 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." With this trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock music styles such as blues, jazz, and vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music, Waits has built up a distinctive musical persona. He has 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 to the general public in the form of cover versions by more visible artists: "Jersey Girl", performed by Bruce Springsteen 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 2010, Waits was chosen to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Waits currently lives in Sonoma County, California with his wife, Kathleen Brennan, and three children.