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Thomas Alan Waits born December 7, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, gravelly voice. He worked primarily in jazz during the s, but his music since the s has reflected greater influence from blues , rock , vaudeville , and experimental genres. Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family in Pomona, California. Inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation , he began singing on the San Diego folk music circuit as a teenager. He relocated to Los Angeles in , where he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records.
Born into a middle-class California family but enamoured of the bohemian lifestyle depicted in Beat literature, Waits lived in his car and in seedy Los Angeles hotels as he embarked on his career. His raspy vocals, delivered in his signature growl, evoked the late-night atmosphere of the smoky clubs in which he first performed in the late s. Drawing on jazz , blues , pop, and avant-garde rock music , he combined offbeat orchestrations with his own piano and guitar playing and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that reflected the influence of writers Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. His album, Mule Variations , was also much praised and took the Grammy for best contemporary folk album.
Dear Hal. Wise and reckless. Lamb and black sheep. Lover of the afflicted and the blessed. More than kin and more than kind, more than friend and more than fiendish in his daunting and devoted pursuit of the lost and the buried, long may his coattails run and long may we now ride, and those that follow us continue to ride upon them.