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Performing together since the '60s, Tommy James and the Shondells continue to wow audiences on the live stage. The group has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, and their songs have been broadcast on the radio more than 22 million times, earning them five BMI "Million Air" awards.
Tommy James began making music in 1962, but the band really got its start in 1968 in Pittsburgh, Pa., when a nightclub DJ discovered a recording of "Hanky Panky" and began playing it on the weekends. Radio stations soon followed suit, and a sensation was born.
The band began making music videos in 1968, when it made a mini-film for "Mony Mony," a full 13 years before the birth of MTV. With 14 full-length and compilation albums under his belt, Tommy James also achieved fame with his 2010 autobiography, Me, the Mob and the Music: One Helluva Ride With Tommy James and the Shondells.
A total of 19 Tommy James and the Shondells songs have made the Billboard Top 100 charts. Some of their greatest hits include "Hanky Panky" and "It's Only Love," both from the 1966 albums of the same name. The following year, "I Think We're Alone Now" peaked at No. 4 on the charts. The hits kept coming in 1968 when "Mony Mony" reached No. 3 and "Crimson and Clover" peaked at No. 1.
Tommy James and the Shondells' melodies have also been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, including Moneyball, Austin Powers, Forrest Gump, My Name is Earl, Criminal Minds and many more. In fact, "Crystal Blue Persuasion," which originally reached No. 2 on the charts in 1969, became popular with a new generation when it was used on the 2013 season finale of television's Breaking Bad and later on a parody episode of The Simpsons.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, many other major stars have flattered Tommy James and the Shondells by releasing covers of some of their hits. Those who have covered his songs include Bruce Springsteen, Prince, R.E.M., Kelly Clarkson, Dolly Parton, Billy Idol, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and more.
Born April 20, 1947 as Thomas Jackson in Dayton, OH, Tommy James started making music at the age of three when he was given a ukulele. He took up the guitar when he was nine and began jamming with his friends as a teenager to play dances and parties. That group of kids would eventually become the original Shondells.