* Created some of the most iconic songs of the 1960s and 1970s, including "Mony Mony," "Crimson And Clover," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," and "Draggin' The Line."
* Hundreds of cover recordings and live performances of his songs by Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Prince, Dolly Parton, Santana, R.E.M., Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Billy Idol, Tom Jones, The Killers, and many others.
* His music prominently featured in 54 movie and 39 television soundtracks, among them Molly's Game, Battle Of The Sexes, 16 Cloverfield Lane, Moneyball, Pirate Radio, Austin Powers, The Italian Job, Cape Fear, Forrest Gump... and Breaking Bad, The Simpsons, Crowded, Casual, MacGiver, The Goldbergs, Boston Legal, My Name Is Earl, and Criminal Minds.
* A major Hollywood movie in development based on his bestselling autobiography Me, The Mob & The Music, chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as the 12th greatest rock 'n' roll memoir of all time.
* Sold over a hundred million records sold worldwide, and has received Five BMI "Million Air" awards in recognition of 22 million broadcast spins of his songs.
* Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame by Stevie Van Zandt at a live ceremony held in Asbury Park, NJ's historic convention center. Also, received the Pittsburgh Rock Legends award.
* Celebrated 50 years in the music business with a star-studded concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ.
* Host of his own weekly international radio show — "Gettin' Together with Tommy James" — on SiriusXM (Sundays; 5-8pm Eastern time: 60s on 6 channel).
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Born and raised in the upper Midwest, Tommy James grew up in Niles, Michigan, where he made his first stage appearance as a child model at age four. In 1959 he formed his first rock band, The Tornadoes, which developed a sizable regional following.
In 1964 a local DJ asked Tommy and the group to sign with his new label, Snap Records. Among the four sides they recorded was an obscure song written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich called "Hanky Panky." The group changed their name to "The Shondells" and released it as a single. Although it was a local hit, it didn't break nationally and was soon forgotten.
Tommy's road to superstardom began when a nightclub DJ in Pittsburgh discovered that two-year-old record and played it at his weekend dances. By May of 1966 "Hanky Panky" was the number one record in Pittsburgh and Tommy James was a local sensation.
Two weeks later he signed with Roulette Records in New York, and "Hanky Panky" became the summer smash of '66. Thus, began one of the longest strings of nonstop hits in recording industry history!
Tommy James promptly followed "Hanky Panky" with two more million selling singles - "Say I Am (What I Am)" and "It's Only Love" - and the Hanky Panky album, which went gold just four weeks after its release.
Tommy then brought in producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell who, over the next two years, produced seven more back-to-back smash singles: "I Think We're Alone Now," "Mirage," "I Like The Way," "Gettin' Together," "Out Of The Blue," "Get Out Now," and the party rock rave-up "Mony Mony." The Gentry/Cordell/James team also produced three platinum albums.
In 1968, Tommy became one of the first artists to experiment with music videos, creating a mini-film around "Mony Mony" for theatrical showings, thirteen years before MTV hit the airwaves.
After spending three months on the road that year with Vice President Hubert Humphrey's presidential campaign, TJ took over the creative reins of his career, writing and producing the groundbreaking "Crimson and Clover" single and album.
The album racked up multi-platinum sales, and spawned two more monster hits for the group: "Do Something To Me" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion." A fourth song from the LP, "Sugar On Sunday," rose high on the charts in a cover version by The Clique.
Tommy followed with the Cellophane Symphony LP, which featured the newly developed Moog Synthesizer and included the Top Ten single "Sweet Cherry Wine."
Tommy James was on a roll! The total sales of his four 1969 hits topped those of the Beatles that year, and The Best Of Tommy James and The Shondells (featuring "Ball of Fire") sold over 10 million copies.
Alone among his 1960s contemporaries, Tommy had successfully made the transition from a Top 40 pop singer to a respected classic rock album artist.
In 1970 he released the gritty rock 'n' roll Travelin' album (thought by many to be the band's best work) which contained the gold singles "She" and "Gotta Get Back To You." Tommy then took a break.
Upon his return, he wrote and produced "Tighter, Tighter" for Alive And Kicking. Over the next four years Tommy scored an additional 12 chart singles, among them "Come To Me," "Ball and Chain," "I'm Comin' Home," and "Draggin' The Line."
During that time he also produced the albums Tommy James, Christian Of The World, and My Head, My Bed And My Red Guitar; the latter of which he recorded with an all-star cast that featured ace guitarist Pete Drake and Elvis Presley sidemen, Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana.
In 1974 Tommy left Roulette Records and released the In Touch and Midnight Rider albums for San Francisco-based Fantasy Records. In 1980, he signed with Millennium Records and scored three more chart singles, including the million selling AC #1 "Three Times In Love." In the 1990s, Tommy formed Aura Records and landed three Top 5 AC hits from his Hold The Fire album.
Meanwhile Tommy's songs had become pop culture classics and were being covered by everyone from punk rockers to country icons. In 1987, Tiffany and Billy Idol's versions of "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Mony Mony" reached #1: the first — and only — time that two cover versions of songs by the same artist topped the national chart in back-to-back weeks.
Tommy marked the start of his fifth decade as a recording artist with the release of a career-spanning retrospective 40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-2006) and his first-ever holiday album I Love Christmas.
Meanwhile, Me, The Mob and The Music is on its way to becoming a major motion picture: a project helmed by producer Barbara De Fina, whose credits include Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, Color of Money, The Grifters, The Age of Innocence, and Silence.
Today Tommy's still rockin' around America, performing his many timeless hits to sellout crowds, and recording an exciting new album to be released in 2018.
"We were the wrong act... with the wrong record... at the wrong time!
Where did we go right?" -TJ
As funny as that sounds, in many ways it's true, but the meteoric rise of Tommy James & the Shondells that summer of '66 was surely one of the greatest "Cinderella Stories" in rock history.
"I Think We're Alone Now" was the 4'th smash hit single in a row for Tommy James & The Shondells, and marked a major evolutionary step in both the sound and style of the group. It also began a long-term relationship between Tommy, producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell and musical arranger Jimmy Wisner.
It was June of '67, the "Summer Of Love" - exactly one year since Tommy James and The Shondells burst onto the music scene - and what a year it was!! Voted Billboard Magazine's "Top Male Artists of 1967," their record sales and Top 40 radio success exceeded all expectations.
CELLOPHANE SYMPHONY was unexpected and shocking to many TJ & S fans. It was a bold step forward for a group that had only recently crossed over from AM Top-40 to FM radio and, before the dust settled, became one of their most highly acclaimed works.
Tommy's first solo album titled simply "TOMMY JAMES", was released in the fall of 1970.
"It was a bit strange and a little scary making music without the Shondells... but it gave me a chance to experiment with a lot of new sounds and ideas". - TJ
CHRISTIAN OF THE WORLD was a total departure from anything Tommy had ever done before. While it's true, other 'mainstream' pop and country performers had, on occasion, recorded traditional Gospel music...no other rock artist had ever attempted anything as bold as an album of new 'Christian oriented' songs.
MY HEAD, MY BED & MY RED GUITAR, recorded in Nashville in the summer of 1971, was hailed as a masterpiece by Rolling Stone Magazine. This album was still another example of Tommy's willingness to put himself in new and unusual musical settings to see what would happen.
IN TOUCH was the first of two albums Tommy produced for the San Francisco based FANTASY RECORDS. Recorded in the autumn of 1975 at the Fantasy studios in Berkley, it represented not only a geographical change for Tommy, but also a chance to explore new musical territory.
MIDNIGHT RIDER was the second Tommy James album released by Fantasy Records. This time the setting and the sound was vintage, 70's LA and Tommy turned the entire production over to legendary songwriter/producer Jeff Barry.
"As much as I loved living and working in California, I found I really missed the energy and edge I got from being in New York." - TJ... And so in 1979, at the age of thirty-two, Tommy moved back to the East coast and signed a new deal with Millennium Records.
With the 1988 purchase of Roulette Records by Rhino and EMI and the release of the blockbuster Tommy James and the Shondells ANTHOLOGY album, it was only natural that the next TJ - Rhino package would be a collection of his solo works.
Because Tommy had continued a vigorous recording schedule throughout the eighties and stayed on top of the new digital technologies that were transforming the music industry, he was ready when longtime friend and record exec Ron Alexenberg asked him to do a new album for Aegis Records. The result was HI-FI: an artful mix of lush, synthesized orchestrations offset by hard driving guitars and percussion .... and of course, nine great new TJ songs.
The first AURA release was a "double CD box set" highlighting the best of Tommy's post-Roulette career. It was called TOMMY JAMES DISCOGRAPHY: DEALS & DEMOS '74 - '92, and was a collection of all his singles and best album cuts from the five labels he had worked with since leaving Roulette... MCA, Fantasy, Millennium, Polygram/21, and Aegis.
As the 1980's unfolded, Tommy's music went through a renaissance. Besides being a staple on classic rock and oldies stations, his songs began popping up everywhere... in films, on TV and cover recordings by other artists. Joan Jett had a smash hit with her remake of "Crimson & Clover" while Tiffany and Billy Idol had back-to-back number one records with "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Mony Mony" respectively... his catalog was getting hot.