DID YOU KNOW...?
Print TJ's Factoids (Press)
1. Tommy James' first stage appearance was as a child-model in 1951 at age 4.
2. Tommy formed his first band "Tom and the Tornadoes", in 1959 at age 12 and The Shondells in 1963 - in his hometown of Niles, Michigan.
3. "Hanky Panky", Tommy's first million-seller, was recorded in 1964 at the WNIL radio studios in Niles, Michigan and released on a small regional label, Snap Records. Two years later it exploded out of Pittsburgh on a bootleg label. Tommy then signed with Roulette Records in New York and "Hanky Panky" became the biggest summer hit of 1966.
4. Tommy has had 23 gold singles, 9 gold and platinum albums, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
5. During 1968-69 Tommy James and The Shondells sold more single records (45's) than any artist in the world, including The Beatles.
6. Tommy James and the Shondells' "IT'S ONLY LOVE" album cover was the first professional photo shoot by Linda Eastman McCartney. (1966)
7. Tommy James, in 1968, was among the first artists to feature the newly developed Moog Synthesizer with the production of his classic LP "CELLOPHANE SYMPHONY". The instrument was owned by Hall of Famer Whitey Ford of The New York Yankees.
8. The chords and structure of Tommy's smash single "Mirage" were actually the chords to "I Think We're Alone Now" in reverse created when it was accidentally played backwards during a writing session.
9. Vice President Hubert Humphrey asked Tommy to head his "Youth Affairs" commission while performing on his 1968 Presidential campaign. Mr. Humphrey also wrote the liner notes for Tommy's "CRIMSON AND CLOVER" album. They remained good friends until his death in 1978.
10. Tommy and the Shondells were one of the very first groups to produce music videos, starting with "Mony Mony" in 1968 - thirteen years prior to MTV.
11. The title of "Mony Mony" was created from the MONY (Mutual Of New York) Insurance Company building whose logo could be seen from Tommy's Manhattan apartment.
12. Tommy wrote and produced the million-selling smash hit "Tighter Tighter" by the group "Alive 'N Kickin".
13. In 1969, Tommy and the group regrettably turned down the offer to perform at the original Woodstock Festival when his booking agent described the event as "...a stupid gig on a pig farm in upstate New York."
"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.