The 60s Official Site



Spotlighted Artist - Tommy James and The Shondells



Tommy James and The ShondellsThe band initially formed in 1959 as Tom and the Tornadoes, with the then only 12-year-old Tommy James as lead singer. In 1963, he re-named the band The Shondells after one of James' idols, guitarist Troy Shondell. The same year, they recorded the Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song, "Hanky Panky" (originally a B-side by The Raindrops[1]). James' version sold respectably in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, but the record label, Snap Records, had no national distribution. The single failed to chart, and the Shondells disbanded.

Two years later, a Pittsburgh radio station unearthed the forgotten single and touted it as an "exclusive." Listener response encouraged the station to play it regularly. Another Pittsburgh disc jockey played his copy of the single at various dance parties, and demand soared. Bootleggers responded by printing up 80,000 black market copies of the recording, which were sold in Pennsylvania stores.

James first learned of all this activity after getting a telephone call in December 1965 from Pittsburgh disc jockey "Mad Mike" Metro, to come and perform the song. James contacted his fellow Shondells, but they had moved past their musical ambitions and did not want to travel to Pittsburgh.

In 1966, James went by himself and made promotional appearances at the Pittsburgh radio station, in nightclubs and on local television. "I had no group, and I had to put one together really fast," recalled James. "I was in a Pittsburgh club one night, and I walked up to a group that was playing that I thought was pretty good, and asked them if they wanted to be the Shondells. They said yes, and off we went."[citation needed]

With Vale, Rosman, Kessler, Pietropaoli, and Magura as his new Shondells, James now had a touring group to promote the single. James went to New York, and sold the master of "Hanky Panky" to Roulette Records. With national promotion behind it, the single became a national number one hit in June, 1966. Before long, Kessler, Pietropaoli, and Magura were replaced by Gray and Lucia.

At first, Tommy James and his Shondells played straightforward shambolic rock and roll, but soon became involved in the budding bubblegum music movement. Songwriter Ritchie Cordell gave them the #4 hit "I Think We're Alone Now." They also had a #10 hit with "Mirage" in 1967. In 1968, James had a hit with "Mony Mony", written by James (Together with Vale) and allegedly inspired by the sign for """M""utual"""O"""f"""N"""Y"""ork that hung outside his apartment window. He followed it with the song "Do Something to Me".

However, James was labeled as a Bubble Gum Rock artist, which he completely hated. Therefore, he changed his style to Psychedelic Rock.

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 Bruce Staple, with James taking over vocal duties and playing all instruments, and featured the then unusual use of electronic gadgetry such as vocoders and phasers. Later in 1968, the group toured with Vice President Hubert Humphrey during his presidential campaign. Humphrey graciously expressed his appreciation by writing the liner notes for the Crimson and Clover album.

Further hits included "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Sweet Cherry Wine", and "Ball of Fire". all from 1969. They also produced "Sugar on Sunday", later covered by The Clique. As the band embraced the sounds of psychedelia, they were invited to perform at the Woodstock concert, but declined.

The group continued until early 1970. At a concert, James collapsed onstage from a reaction to drugs, and was actually pronounced "dead." However, he recovered, hated the recording studio, and decided to move to the country to recuperate.[2] His four bandmates carried on for a short while under the name of Hog Heaven, but disbanded soon afterwards.

In a 1970 side project, James wrote and produced the #7 hit single "Tighter, Tighter" for the group Alive N Kickin'.[3] James launched a solo career in 1971, which yielded two notable hits over a 10-year span; "Draggin' the Line" (1971) and "Three Times In Love" (1980).

During the 1980s, the group's songbook resulted in major hits for three other artists: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts' version of "Crimson And Clover" (a #7 single in 1982), Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," and Billy Idol's "Mony Mony" (both #1 hits in 1987). Idol's version of "Mony Mony" replaced Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" at the #1 position on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart toward the end of 1987. Other Shondells covers have been performed by acts as disparate as psychobilly ravers The Cramps, new wave singer Lene Lovich, country music veteran Dolly Parton and the Boston Pops orchestra.



Your Daily Oldies Fix


An Enlightening Quiche, a novel by Eva Pasco


Hullabaloo! Dave Hull


My Summer on Haight Street by Robert Rice Jr.


Inside Songs of the Sixties by Brian Forsythe 

Culinary Tributeto the Beatles 


The 60s - Carl - 1968 - Vietnam

 Vietnam -1968

The 60s - Webmaster - 2006


Altamont AugieEva Pasco's Book


Somewhere in the Distance by David Soulsby 

The Isla Vista Crucible


Read my Blog

 Franchise Trees

40th Anniversary of Woodstock

Vibration of a Nation Video 

Sign the Guestbook 



Go to The 60s Official Site Jukebox






Updates and New Content
My Home Town - Circleville Ohio
My Jade East Adventure
The 60s Tradition of Eating Together as a Family
The Blown Perfect Game
The Great Pumpkin Caper
The Haunted Bridge Near Yellowbud
Union Street Beat
Union Street Peeping Toms
What Ever Happened to The Cool Jocks?
Top Ten Countdown
The Sixties With Eva Pasco
David Soulsby Reflections
Ask Big Dog
Things You Just Don't Hear Anymore
1960s Candy
60s Articles - Baby Boomers
60s Fads & Fashions
60s Music A Decade of Great Music
60s Songs That Peaked on the Charts in 1970
Grammy Award Winners
Our Music, Our Times, Remember When?
The 60s Craziest Songs
The Top 100 Recording Artists of the 50s and 60s Era
Webmaster's Pick of the Top 100 Songs of the Decade
60s Rock 'N Roll Headline News
A Story of Life - A Thousand Marbles
60s Slang- Do You Remember These?
A Tribute to Elvis
Elvis Presley's Top Recordings
Stories About Elvis Presley
Baby Boomer Cities
British Music Invasion
British Top Hits of the 1960s
Chickenman Has Been Identified
Class Reunion Tips
Dance Crazes of the 60s
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech"
Drive-In Theater Memories
Flashback Time Capsule High School Years
Great TV Commercial Jingles
Living in Black and White
Moms Cookbook
Movies of the 60s
Quotes of the Baby Boomer Generation
Remembering Valentine's Day
Previous Spotlighted Artists
Vikki Carr
Bob Dylan
Lovin' Spoonful
Rhythm and Blues Music of the 1960s
Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame
Route 66 - The Mother Road
Summer of Love
Television in the 60s
The Economy and Prices
The Headlines and Key Facts of the 1960s
The Pickle Jar
The Top Ten Songs on this Day
The Vietnam War - The War that Changed a Generation
Medal of Honor Soldiers
Music Favorites from 'Nam
My Tour Pics of Vietnam
Pictures From The Vietnam War
Tet Offensive - An Explanation
Vietnam War Myths
Vietnam War Time Line
Today in Baby Boomer History
Top DJs of the 60s
Toys and Games
Whatever Happened to
Woodstock Rock Festival

 Your Daily Oldies Fix


 My Blog


Go to The 60s Official Site Jukebox

Sign the Guestbook