A year after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, The Wanted’s Tom Parker joined his bandmates on a Greatest Hits tour, leaving behind a legacy of laughter, brotherhood, and of course, days that stay Gold Forever!
The Wanted, made up of Tom Parker, Nathan Sykes, Max George, Jay Mcguiness, and Siva Kaneswaran, formed in 2009. Similarly, another boyband was just rising to the top *ahem, One Direction*, and while my school friends were shipping Larry and whatever other things Directioners did, I was walking the halls with a dirty secret. I loved The Wanted. In fact, I believed they were way better than One Direction. The band stormed the charts with hits like All Time Low and Heart Vacancy, until their disbanding in 2014. With their hiatus boiling down to competition with 1D, there never seemed to be any bad blood between the boys, and I truly believe this was down to Tom. He was a cheeky guy, who had a bold and playful spirit. He seemed to act as the glue that held the band together with his hilarious antics and most importantly, his positive spirit. This optimistic outlook is what spurred Tom and his wife Kelsey on when he was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma in October 2020, the same month his second child was born.
After seven years dashed with various Strictly appearances and theatre shows, The Wanted announced they would be reforming with the holy trinity of reunion products; a Greatest Hits album, a tour, and a special live performance at the Royal Albert Hall. The latter was a charity concert in September of last year, called ‘Inside My Head’. This was an emotional performance that saw the band rally around Tom as they performed some of their greatest hits to their adoring fans. In a touching scene, the boys embraced Tom as the event became an overwhelming scene, which showed the concert was not only for the fans or the much-needed funds, but for these five best friends who had been through so much together at such a young age! It must have been a bittersweet moment for The Wanted and their fans, being back together doing what they love but under such sad circumstances. The fans showed an enormous amount of affection for the band and vice versa!
Following the success of Inside My Head, the boys embarked on a twelve-date tour of the UK which commenced in Glasgow in March of this year. Initially, Tom was absent for the first few dates after receiving rigorous treatment in Spain but made his comeback to a roar of excited applause. Unable to stand, Tom joined his bandmates on a special throne and was often seen in sunglasses under the bright lights, which his bandmates wore in solidarity.
After a short montage of music video clips, the band would rise from a platform with Tom waving to his devoted supporters to perform their hit, Gold Forever. This song has taken on an emotional new meaning after Tom’s passing, becoming synonymous with cherishing happy memories. In many tour clips, the band can be seen hugging Tom but also joking around with him. Throughout his treatment, Tom still retained his humorous and funny personality; one thing fans will definitely remember was Tom’s thunderous laugh! Tom’s bandmates and fans praised his incredible bravery and determination to give us a final experience of The Wanted, and the happiness they bring to so many people.
The tour concluded in Liverpool on the 17th of March, 2022. Nathan shared a clip of Tom’s last performance on Instagram, where the musician can be seen taking in the view of hundreds of adoring fans cheering for Tom. Although he looked frail, Tom pushed through to sing along with the lyrics and revel in the moment with his bandmates. I can’t begin to imagine the emotions he went through, but I hope the whole tour showed Tom just how much his fans appreciate the sacrifices he made for them, and that he knew how loved he was.
Tom passed away on the 30th of March, 2022, surrounded by his loved ones, including his supportive wife and treasured bandmates. In their respective statements, the boys expressed their devastation at the loss of such a talented and charismatic performer, but more importantly, of an all-around nice guy. Jay wrote Tom “knew how to live life fearlessly, and with heart.” whilst Max wrote, “The courage and dignity I have witnessed over the last few months surpassed the lion I already knew you were.”
The Wanted’s final tour was an emotional example of how much music means to people, whether they’re the performer or the fan, live shows are a beautiful, unifying experience, and I am glad we got to see Tom Parker be the rockstar he’s always been for one last time. Tom leaves behind a legacy of laughter, happiness, and bravery to the very end; He will be deeply missed by many.