Tom Waits is born in Pomona, California.
Tom Waits makes his first demo recordings, which will be issued two decades later as The Early Years.
Tom Waits’ first album, Closing Time, is released. It contains such favorites as “Ol’ 55” and “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You.”
The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits’ second album, is released.
The Eagles reach #17 with their version of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55,” an ode to an automobile.
Tom Waits’ Nighthawks at the Diner, a double album capturing the whiskey-voiced singer/pianist at his most unbridled, is released.
Tom Waits’ Small Change, his fourth album, is released. Reaching #89, it is his highest-charting album of the decade.
Foreign Affairs, by Tom Waits, is released. His fifth album includes “I Never Talk to Strangers,” a duet with Bette Midler.
Blue Valentine, Tom Waits’ sixth album, is released.
Heartattack and Vine, Tom Waits’ seventh and final album for Asylum Records, is released.
Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan are married in Los Angeles. She will henceforth become his writing partner and collaborator on all projects.
Tom Waits’ soundtrack for the Francis Coppola film One from the Heart is released on Columbia Records. It will receive an Oscar nomination.
Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, marking a change of labels (to Island Records) and more experimental style, is released.
Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, a highly anticipated album featuring a guest appearance by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, is released.
Tom Waits’ and Kathleen Brennan’s stage musical Frank’s Wild Years opens in Chicago. This same year, Waits will star as a jailed musician in the Jim Jarmusch film Down by Law.
Frank’s Wild Years, the final album in Tom Waits’ landmark trilogy – following Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs – is released.
Tom Waits’ Big Time, a video documentary and live album of his 1987 tour (which Rolling Stone proclaimed “Tour of the Year”), are released.
Rod Stewart’s version of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train” reaches #3.
Bone Machine, by Tom Waits, is released. It is his first album of new music in five years.
Bone Machine wins Tom Waits his first Grammy, for Best Alternative Music Album, at the 35th annual Grammy Awards.
The Black Rider, Tom Waits’ soundtrack to a German stage musical, is released.
Tom Waits’ Beautiful Malodies – The Island Years, a 23-track compilation assembled by Waits himself, is released.
Tom Waits releases Mule Variations, his first album in six years and debut for the Anti label. It will win him a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Tom Waits simultaneously releases two albums – Alice and Blood Money – on the same day. Each stems from his songwriting contributions to European stage musicals.
Tom Waits’ Real Gone, one of the most gritty and “outside” albums of his career, is released.
Tom Waits’ Orphans, a 54-song, three-disc set, is released.
Tom Waits' Orphans is certified gold by the RIAA, making it the first gold record of his career.
Tom Waits double-disc Glitter and Doom Live is released.
Tom Waits is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 26th annual induction ceremony in New York. Neil Young is his presenter.