The music of Tommy James is played continuously, everyday, in every country in the world, and has been for more than a generation. His songs are so ingrained in modern culture, it's difficult to go for more than a day or so without hearing one of them on the radio, TV, or a film soundtrack. To date, Tommy's sold over 100 million records and has been awarded 23 gold singles, and nine gold and platinum albums.
He was born Thomas Jackson on April 29, 1947 in Dayton, Ohio, his family finally settled in Niles, Michigan, which he still regards as his hometown, where he made his first stage appearance as a child model at age four. In 1959, at the age of 12, he formed his first rock band, "The Tornadoes", and began playing local gigs around the area, developing a sizeable following along the way.
In 1964 a local DJ asked Tommy and the group to sign with his new regional label, "Snap Records". Among the four sides they recorded was an obscure song written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich called "HANKY PANKY". The group changed their name to "The Shondells" and released it as a single. It was an instant local hit but didn't break nationally and was soon forgotten.
Amazingly, two years later, the record was found in a record bin by a Pittsburgh nightclub DJ who played it at his weekend dances. The response was so overwhelming that the local radio stations started spinning it and an enterprising record distributor bootlegged it, selling 80000 copies in ten days. By May of 1966, HANKY ...