23 gold records, nine platinum albums, 32 Billboard chart hits, 100 million records sold, and over 21 million plays on the radio. That’s the legacy of Tommy James, who will appear with the Shondells Friday, July 15 at the Vine at del Lago Resort and Casino.
In this far-ranging conversation, we discuss Tommy’s start in his hometown of Niles, Michigan, how he had an accidental hit in Pittsburgh, and his record deal with Roulette Records, a mob-controlled record company that robbed him of tens of millions of dollars but gave him creative freedom as an artist he would not have gotten from any other record label.
We talked about the songwriting influences that led to rock and roll classics like “Mony Mony”, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Draggin’ the Line”, and his move toward more psychedelic-influenced songs like “Crimson and Clover” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”
Tommy’s songs have been covered by numerous artists over the years. In 1987, Tiffany’s version of “I think we’re alone now” went to number one, only to be replaced at the top of the charts by Billy Idol’s version of “Mony Mony.”
Thank you, Tommy, for the conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.