Tommy James!

Gary: “OK, so it was June of 1966, I was in love or whatever (again), with a girl I met in Washington D.C. who was from West Virginia.  There were a couple of small problems I overlooked: I lived in Toronto and she lived in Washington; she was engaged to someone in the Military – minor details.  Yes, you would be correct; it did not work out, but the popular song that June in D.C. was the next group that I will look at…

Tommy James & the Shondells
Tommy James

(born Thomas Gregory Jackson, 29 April 1947, Dayton, Ohio)

Significant Band Members:
  • Mike Vale
  • Ronnie Rosman
  • Eddie Gray
  • Peter Lucia, Jr


1966 Hanky Panky Original /


1996 at the Bitter End NY / Mony Mony /
1996 Bitter End / Draggin’ the Line /
1996 /
Crimson and Clover for PBS /
and 1996 /
New Year’s Eve Performance /

Tommy James & The Shondells Hits:

 Hanky Panky/ Roulette 4686/ June 1966/ #1 (2)


Say I Am (What I Am)/ Roulette 4695/ August 1966/ #21


It’s Only Love/ Roulette 4710/ December 1966/ #31


I think We’re Alone Now/ Roulette 4720/ March 1967/ #4


Mirage/ Roulette 4736/ May 1967/ #10


I Like The Way/ Roulette 4756/ July 1967/ #25


Gettin’ Together/ Roulette 4762/ September 1962/ #18


Mony Mony/ Roulette 7008/ May 1968/ #3


Do Something to Me/ Roulette 7024/ November 1968


Crimson and Clover/ Roulette 7028/ January 1969/ #1 (2)


Sweet Cherry Wine/ Roulette 7039/ March 1969/ #7


Crystal Blue Persuasion/ Roulette 7050/ June 1969/ # 2


Ball of Fire/ Roulette 7060/ October 1969/ #19


She/ Roulette 7066/ December 1969/ #23

Tommy James Hits:Draggin’ The Line/ Roulette 7103/ June 1971/ #4


Three Times in Love/ Millennium 11785/ February 1980/ # 19  #1 (Adult Contemporary)


The band initially formed in 1959 as ” Tom and the Tornadoes”, with the then only 12-year-old James as lead singer. In 1963, he renamed the band “The Shondells”, after one of James’s idols, guitarist Troy Shondell. Later in 1963, they recorded the Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song “Hanky Panky” (originally by The Raindrops), which failed to chart.

The Shondells disbanded thereafter, until James reformed them early 1966 with Gray, Vale, Rosman and Lucia. Their first single was a re-recording of “Hanky Panky”, which surprisingly became a national #1 hit in June 1966.

At first, Tommy James and his Shondells played straightforward rock and roll (as their first hit proves) but soon became involved in the budding bubblegum music movement. One of their main songwriters these days was Ritchie Cordell who gave them the hits “I Think We’re Alone Now” (later a hit for Tiffany) and “Mirage” in 1967.

From 1968, the group members tried themselves as songwriters, with James and Lucia penning the psychedelic classic “Crimson and Clover”. The song was also completely recorded and mixed by the two of them, with James taking over vocal duties and playing all instruments, and features the then remarkable use of electronic gadgetry such as vocoders and phasers.

Further hits included “Crystal Blue Persuasion”, “Sweet Cherry Wine”, and “Mony Mony” (1968), written by James (together with Vale) and allegedly inspired by the MONY sign for Mutual Of New York that hung outside his office window.

The group carried on with constant success until early 1970, when James became exhausted from the strenuous touring and decided to drop out. His four bandmates carried on for a short while under the name of “Hog Heaven” but disbanded soon afterwards.

James launched a solo career in 1971 which yielded at least one major hit in “Draggin’ the Line” (and “Three Times In Love,” a #1 Adult Contemporary single in 1980).

In October 2007, Tommy James and the original Shondells reunited in a New Jersey studio to record once again. And still they are performing live shows.



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