Tom Alan Waits (Pomona, 7 dicembre 1949) è un cantautore e attore statunitense. Ha esercitato una notevole influenza su molti cantautori delle generazioni successive alla sua, ed è ampiamente considerato dalla critica musicale come uno dei massimi autori del Novecento
Artista poliedrico, ha lavorato anche nel cinema e nel teatro.
Il critico musicale Daniel Durchholz descrisse la voce di Waits: come se fosse stata immersa in un tino di whiskey, poi appesa in un affumicatoio per qualche mese e infine portata fuori e investita con una macchina.
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 has acted in supporting roles in films, including Paradise Alley andBram Stoker’s Dracula; he also starred in Jim Jarmusch’s 1986 film Down by Law. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.
Waits’ lyrics frequently present atmospheric portraits 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“, by the Eagles, and “Downtown Train“, 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 theRock and Roll Hall of Fame.