10 Questions With … Tommy James

Tommy James’ first job in show business was as a child model, when he appeared in an ad in Life magazine in 1951, dressed as a cowboy; ?What can I say? That was my first major achievement!? he said. The budding musician was also learning piano and ukulele until one fateful night in 1956 when he saw Elvis Presley on ?The Ed Sullivan Show.? ?That was it for me, man, the ukulele was gone,? he said. ?I said, ?I wanna do that!?? As the leader of Tommy James and The Shondells, he had hits with ?Hanky Panky,? ?Crimson and Clover,? ?Mony Mony,? and countless others. James recently talked with Goldmine about his first studio album in a decade, Hold The Fire, among other topics?.

Goldmine: The story of ?Hanky Panky,? how it was initially released in 1964 but it wasn?t a hit until 1966 ? I can?t imagine that could happen today.
Tommy James: You?re right, and it?s a typically American story. I was working in a record shop after school, and that?s where I met these record guys. One was a local DJ named Jack Douglas who was starting a little label called Snap Records. He asked if I would be interested in recording with them, and I said, hell yes, and one of the four sides we did with him in early 1964 was “Hanky Panky.”

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