Tommy James And The Shondells Come to Mayo Performing Arts Center
Tommy James' road to superstardom began when a nightclub DJ in Pittsburgh discovered a two-year- old record by "The Shondells" and played it at his weekend dances. The crowd response was so overwhelmingly positive that radio deejays started spinning it and an enterprising record distributor bootlegged it, selling 80,000 copies in ten days. By May of 1966 "Hanky Panky" was the number one record in Pittsburgh and Tommy James was a sensation. A Pittsburgh promoter tracked Tommy down at his home in Niles, Michigan and urged him to "come on down!" Unable to put the original group back together, Tommy hired a hot P-burgh R&B bar band to replace them. Two weeks later he signed a record deal with Roulette Records. The label, in turn, put their promotion team to work on "Hanky Panky" and made it 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. With three hits under his belt, Tommy brought in producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell, and the three produced seven 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 - the first time that a rock artist had been asked to campaign for a presidential candidate - TJ took over the creative reins of his career by writing and producing the groundbreaking "Crimson and Clover" single and album. (Humphrey wrote the C&C album liner notes, another first.) Released in early 1969, it went multi-platinum, and spawned two more monster hits: "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. In 1969, sales of his hits top those of The Beatles. Tommy's songs became 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" respectively battled for the top spot on the pop chart for a solid month, and each eventually went to #1. It was the first time in music history that two cover versions of songs by the same artist hit #1 back-to-back. In the following years, artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Prince, Dolly Parton, Santana, R.E.M., Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Billy Idol, Tom Jones, The Killers and many others, recorded his songs and performed them live. His autobiography - Me, The Mob and The Music - became a bestseller for Simon & Schuster, garnered rave reviews from critics and industry insiders, and was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 25 greatest rock 'n' roll memoirs of all time (#12). Today, Tommy's career is still in high gear. He signed an agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing to represent his self-published songs and the accompanying masters. This move means that all of Tommy's songs are now being pitched for film, television, advertising and other uses by the world's largest music publishing house. To date, Tommy has 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. More information can be found at http://www.tommyjames.com. Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich, and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey. The 2017-2018 season is made possible, in part, by a grant the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Mayo Performing Arts Center was named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres, and is ranked in the top 50 mid-sized performing arts centers by Pollstar Magazine.