Tommy James and The Shondells - Cape May Summer Concert Series
8pm - Cape May Convention Hall
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, told him of the success tale of 'Hanky Panky,' 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 become the Shondells. Two weeks later he and this new group signed a record deal with Roulette Records in New York. 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.
The Shondells 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.
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' respectively battled for the top spot on the pop chart for a solid month, each eventually going number one. It was the first time in music history that two cover versions of songs by the same artist went number one back-to-back.
In 2006, Tommy marked the start of his fifth decade as a recording artist with the release of a fan-pleasing, career-spanning retrospective 40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-2006), which included all 48 of his singles. Next came his I Love Christmas album on CD and a special collector’s vinyl edition.
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).
This thrilling tale of Tommy’s career and his tumultuous relationship with the 'Godfather' of the music industry, Morris Levy, 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 Hugo. With a top Hollywood screenwriter now on board, Tommy’s story has taken a critical step forward in the always-lengthy film development process.
Today, Tommy’s career is still in high gear. With the signing of a new distribution deal with Allegro, his entire recorded catalog will be available around the world.
Tommy has also signed an agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing to represent Tommy’s self-published songs and the accompanying masters. This move means that all of Tommy’s songs from 1962 onward are now being pitched for film, television, advertising and other uses by the world’s largest music publishing house.
On the road, he and his Shondells are still rockin’, performing their many timeless hits to sellout crowds across the country. When not on the road, Tommy continues to craft new music geared toward film and television, and develop new business opportunities for his company Aura Entertainment Group.