Thomas Alan Waits was born on December 7, 1949, in Pomona, California.
In 1972, Waits, while working as a doorman at The Heritage in San Diego, California, would occassionally take the stage between acts. He was spotted by Herb Cohen of Asylum records and signed to the label.
During the 1970s he recorded tracks for Asylum and toured as an opening act for John Hammond, Frank Zappa, Martin Mull, Martha Reeves, and others. During this time he also began a relationship with Rickie Lee Jones who is pictured on the cover of Waits's Blue Valentine album.
In 1980, Waits scored the film One From The Heart. His music received an Oscar nomination. Waits made a cameo appearance in the film.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Waits continued touring and releasing albums. He also appeared in a few more films.