- Sir Tom Jones’s 29-year-old son sleeps on a mat in a New Jersey homeless shelter
- Jonathan Berkery, an aspiring musician, goes by the stage name Jon Jones
- He has never met Sir Tom or received a call, Christmas present or birthday card
- But he says he wants to see his estranged celebrity dad before it’s too late
When Sir Tom Jones announced that he had sold his £6.5 million Hollywood mansion last week, fans pored over the photographs of his lavish former home.
Filled with life-size animal sculptures, leopard-print carpets and chairs, plus his gold four-poster bed, the house also features balconies overlooking Los Angeles and the distant mountains, and perfectly manicured gardens resplendent with fountains and a swimming pool.
The legendary Welsh singer no longer felt ‘comfortable’ there after the death of his wife, Linda, from lung cancer in 2016 and said he had sold the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom property she had lovingly decorated — along with all the furniture and fittings — to return to the green, green grass of home.Jonathan Berkery, an aspiring musician, goes by the stage name Jon Jones and sleeps on a mat in a New Jersey homeless shelter in the US
Jon Jones claims he has never met Sir Tom or received so much as a telephone call, a Christmas present or a birthday card
His poignant announcement was met with bemusement by the star’s younger son, Jonathan Berkery, who sleeps on a mat in a New Jersey homeless shelter and considers himself lucky if he can grab one of the blankets thrown at the 30-plus men who bed down beside him each night.
The 29-year-old aspiring musician, who goes by the name of Jon Jones, has never met Sir Tom or received so much as a telephone call, a Christmas present or a birthday card, and yet he never gives up hope that the 77-year-old pop star might one day agree to see him.
‘I’d like to talk to him about normal stuff, like: “How’s your life been? This is mine,” ’ says Jon. ‘I want to see him before it’s too late.’
Sir Tom Jones’s 29-year-old son wants to meet his estranged celebrity dad (pictured in his earlier years) before it’s too late
As things stand, however, his yearning to meet his biological father is but a distant dream.
Sir Tom, who returned to our TV screens last week as a judge on the latest series of The Voice UK, did not even publicly admit to having a second child until 2008, despite DNA tests proving his paternity.
The former coal miner from Pontypridd in South Wales was 47 when he had a three-day fling with aspiring model Katherine Berkery, 24, after meeting her in a New York nightclub in October 1987.
The married star invited her to watch his show the next night, after which they had dinner together before heading back to his suite at Manhattan’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Three months later, after Katherine had discovered she was pregnant, she phoned his office only to be told by an aide: ‘That’s showbiz, darling. Do what you have to do.’
Baby Jonathan was born on June 27, 1988, but Sir Tom, who has admitted sleeping with up to 250 women a year at the height of his fame, denied the child was his until a judge ordered him to undergo a DNA test which proved otherwise.
Jon considers himself lucky if he can grab one of the blankets thrown at the 30-plus men who bed down beside him each night at the shelter (pictured)
He was subsequently ordered to pay £1,700-a-month for Jon’s upkeep for the first 18 years of his life, a drop in the ocean given his vast wealth — he is worth around £155 million.
But despite paying up, Sir Tom made it clear that he wanted nothing else to do with his offspring.
‘It wasn’t something I had planned,’ said Sir Tom when he finally spoke about the matter in 2008.
‘If I had planned it, I would have done something more than just financially. But it wasn’t. I just fell for it. I just fell for the seduction.’
Meanwhile, Sir Tom announced that he had sold his £6.5 million Hollywood mansion (pictured) last week. Fans pored over the photographs of his lavish former home complete with multiple balconies and a huge swimming pool
For Jon, who was 20 at the time, those words cut like a knife. The fall-out from that bitter legal battle inevitably cast a pall across much of the young man’s life.
By the age of four, he would play his mother’s Tom Jones tapes constantly, singing along to his greatest hits, Delilah and It’s Not Unusual.
When he demanded to know why he didn’t have a daddy, Katherine showed him a magazine story about the paternity case, which made world headlines at the time, and told him that the singer was busy entertaining and couldn’t be with them.
That news left young Jon harbouring hopes that one day his father would simply walk through the door and do ‘normal’ things with him, like eat dinner and watch TV.
By the age of ten, when his mother finally made it clear that this longed for event simply wasn’t going to happen, Jon became angry.
A full-blown rebellion followed and his troubled adolescence swiftly descended into what has so far been an utterly dysfunctional adult life in which he has dabbled with drugs and struggled to hold down a job.
Sir Tom, who returned to our TV screens last week as a judge on the latest series of The Voice UK, did not publicly admit to having a second child until 2008
Despite inheriting his famous father’s million-dollar voice and brooding good looks, Jon’s singing career has never really taken off. He has been homeless, on and off, for several years now.
When I first met Jon seven years ago to interview him for the Mail, he’d already walked out of a boy band, claiming he didn’t like being promoted as the progeny of Sir Tom.
Afterwards, numerous TV shows called, trying to get him to appear. He ignored them all.
Three years later, Jon told me he’d reached rock bottom and had been living in his car in Miami.
He was arrested for possessing drugs, spent four nights in jail and was sent to rehab in exchange for the charges being dropped.
The former coal miner from Pontypridd in South Wales was 47 when he had a three-day fling with aspiring model Katherine Berkery, 24, after meeting her in a New York nightclub in October 1987 (pictured in the US city in 1965)
Afterwards, he tried to turn his life around, finding work as a chef, flipping burgers in a fast-food joint, and renting an apartment in Jersey City, just across New York harbour from Manhattan while working on his own songs.
Four months ago, in a bid to deal with the enduring agony of not being acknowledged by his father, he decided to reach out to his 60-year-old half-brother, Mark, the only child of Sir Tom’s 59-year marriage to his childhood sweetheart Linda, who also acts as his dad’s manager.
‘I just thought, now that my father’s wife has passed, he might see me,’ says Jon. ‘He’s getting old and he could be ill. I want to see him before it is too late.
The married star invited Ms Berkery (pictured) to watch his show the next night, after which they had dinner together before heading back to his suite at Manhattan’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. She discovered she was pregnant three months later and Jonathan was born on June 27, 1988
‘For years I was angry and I didn’t want to see him. I was conflicted. Now I know life is too short. I need to get to know him. I just hope he feels the same.’
Unable to find a direct contact number for Mark, he sent an email via his assistant, Tom Ludgate, introducing himself and asking for help in arranging a meeting with Sir Tom.
‘I don’t want to spend my life regretting that I never made an attempt to contact you both and I would love to hear his side of everything or just have a real conversation,’ he wrote.
‘I live in New Jersey, work hard and still have a very close relationship with my mother. I also record using the name Jon Jones (sometimes Jonathan Jones) and I think you’d both enjoy my music.
‘I do not want help with my career or anything like that. I just want to meet my father before it’s too late. As we both know, life is too short to let the important things pass by, so let me know when you get a chance.’
He received no reply, but says: ‘Maybe his assistant didn’t pass it on or he didn’t see it. I’m speaking out because I want him to know.’
But in the four months that have passed since he wrote that letter, Jon’s life appears to have spiralled even further downwards.
But Sir Tom denied Jonathan was his child until a judge ordered him to undergo a DNA test which proved otherwise
Fired from his restaurant job — he claims he was sacked for asking for a day off — he lost his apartment in October and slept on park benches until the weather got too cold and forced him into a homeless shelter in nearby Hoboken.
With his few possessions, including his guitar, in storage, Jon’s home now is an old church where he sleeps on the floor alongside other homeless men.
He is wearing the same red trainers he was wearing when I met him four years ago, only now they have several holes in them and look decidedly tatty.
When we meet, he is carrying a torn plastic bag containing his newly washed clothes.
Shivering in the bitter cold, he explains he has just been to the launderette and isn’t allowed back inside the shelter to deposit his clothes until later in the day.
Regardless of who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs, the contrast between Sir Tom’s career as one of Britain’s best-loved stars and the misfortunes of his younger son could not be more stark.
Jon’s relationship with his mother, who was born in Korea and adopted by a wealthy New Jersey financier and his wife, has been troubled over the years.
Despite referring to her as his best friend, they clearly don’t always get along. ‘It can be complicated,’ he admits.
They moved so many times during his childhood that Jon can’t remember how many schools he attended. He claims that when he rebelled as a teenager, she regularly threatened to leave him behind.
Sir Tom has admitted sleeping with up to 250 women a year at the height of his fame
Yet it is clear that she has tried to help her son. When he lost his driving licence in 2013 after numerous traffic violations, he moved in with her and her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Then, when Jon decided to move to New Jersey to pursue his music career, she accompanied him, risking her marriage to make her son happy.
When she moved to Arizona, leaving Jon behind, he says she encouraged him to check into a shelter after he confessed he was sleeping on the street.
Afterwards Jon had a meltdown, posting several apparent cries for help on Twitter.
In a series of messages last May, he said he was surviving on food stamps — vouchers that can be exchanged for food. He begged for money, marijuana and strippers, at one stage writing that he feared he had jaw cancer.
Today, he appears embarrassed about the messages he wrote and tries to dismiss them as ‘just joking around’, although he complains about a painful swollen gland along his jawbone.
Even so, the tweets were picked up by fans of The Voice UK, eliciting comments on internet chat sites.
Jon appears delighted by this — he is clearly hoping they get back to Tom. Jon sometimes watches the show on YouTube.
It offers a chance to catch a glimpse of his father. But it’s also a reminder of the gulf between them.
The pop sensation has a son called Mark (pictured when he was eight years old) who he conceived with his late childhood sweetheart Melinda Trenchard. She passed away in April 2016 aged 75
Now and then Jon fantasises about auditioning for his father on The Voice. ‘I used to imagine waiting for him to swivel around on his chair, then seeing me and I’d put up my middle finger,’ he says.
‘I even used to think about going to one of his concerts and disrupting it. But that really isn’t me.’
What the future holds for this troubled young man remains to be seen. Despite the fact he will be 30 this year, Jon has never had a serious love affair — unlike Sir Tom, who married when he was only 16.
Yet he still harbours hope that he will one day be a father himself.
‘My history tells me I am better alone,’ he says. ‘I’ve never been in love. I’d love a family one day. Am I ready for one? No. But I wouldn’t want any kid of mine to grow up with the mother and not me.’
He would like his father to hear him sing, but above all would just like a minute or two to look Sir Tom in the eye and to be acknowledged as his son.
And it is hard not to feel sympathy for someone who surely cannot be blamed for the way he was brought into this world and has clearly suffered dearly for it.
But given the stance Sir Tom has taken in the past, it is hard to imagine the star will relent now.
As a judge on The Voice UK, he often comes across as a father figure to the aspiring singers he mentors on the ITV show. How bitterly ironic it is that he has always refused to listen to the pleas of his own son.