New Jersey Hall of Famer Tommy James shares his passion for music and life
Tommy James knows what it takes to succeed in Rock and Roll and in life. Tommy started his career in high school putting a band together at the age of 12. Right before he graduated from high school Tommy and his band had their first big hit “Hanky Panky.”
I met Tommy back stage at his induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2017. Tommy is a great guy and after talking with him for a few minutes he gives you the feeling that you’ve known each other for years.
Tommy has had a very interesting rise to success. After his first hit Hanky Panky there were many record labels that wanted to sign Tommy James and The Shondels. After the initial frenzy from the record labels wanting him, he started to get rejections and distance from the very same. He couldn’t figure out why that was happening.
Turns out he was being wooed by Roulette Records, which was a front for the Genovese crime family out of New York. That explained it. He would be Roulette Records biggest star grabbing nine platinum records, 23 gold records and selling over 100 million records for the mobbed up label, some huge achievements.
Being associated with Roulette left Tommy in a quagmire, he wasn’t getting paid his monies from album sales but knew that he couldn’t leave without facing some major repercussions from the gentlemen that owned Roulette.
Jimmy Rogers was a recording star for Roulette and he tried to leave. They left him for dead on a bridge in Los Angeles and he was never the same after that.
So Tommy was smart enough to try and make money through touring, merchandise and through collected revenue from ASCAP and BMI, the music writing and composing guilds and he says that Roulette allowed him to hone his craft, which is something many record labels didn’t allow. He wrote a book a few years back that has some great stories, the book is titled Me the Mob and the Music.
Tommy James has Jersey grit. I’m glad I got a chance to meet him and enjoy his many hits.