Saturday, June 20, 1970

Musical Artist - Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James and the Shondells are an American band originally formed in 1964 when the original members were still in high school. Several of the members, including Tommy James, were originally in a band named the Echoes which was founded in 1959 - although at the time the then 12-year-old James was still called Tommy Jackson. The band released the single Hanky Panky in 1964, but it attracted little attention outside of the Midwest and the group split up in 1965 when the members graduated from high school.

In 1965, a dance promoter in Pittsburg found the 1964 recording of Hanky Panky and began using it at dance parties and promoting its play on local radio stations. In 1966, James found out about the renewed interest in the single and headed to Pennsylvania to capitalize on it. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, the other original members of the Shondells had moved on and were unavailable to reunite to promote the song. James ended up recruiting a local Pennsylvania band almost at random to be the new Shondells. With this new group backing him and national promotion, James was able to make Hanky Panky into a number one hit.

Disputes over pay and other things led to three of the new Shondells leaving the group shortly thereafter, and they were replaced by new members. This new lineup produced several top forty hits over the next three years including Ball of Fire, Crimson and Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion, I Think We're Alone Now, Mirage, Mony Mony, Sugar on Sunday, and Sweet Cherry Wine.

James left the group in 1970, citing exhaustion, and the remainder of the band floundered without him and then broke up. James then launched a solo career that resulted in the hit Draggin' the Line. In the 1980s, covers of three Shondell's songs because hits for other artists: Crimson & Clover for Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, I Think We're Alone Now for Tiffany, and Mony Mony for Billy Idol.

In the 1980s, James began touring on the oldies circuit, usually under the name Tommy James and the Shondells, although almost none of the other members of any iteration of the Shondells were involved. The band has existed in some form ever since, always with James and sometimes with and sometimes without other members of the "classic" version of the Shondells.

The Shondells have a website named The Official Website of Tommy James and the Shondells.

Musical Monday Selections:

07/24/17: Crystal Blue Persuasion

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