CAPE MAY – From the call-and-response of “Mony Mony” to the psychedelic sounds of “Crimson and Clover,” the hits of Tommy James and The Shondells span several generations. On Wednesday, July 12, the classic rock legends perform in the Cape May Summer Concert Series. The show will be held at Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave. in Cape May, beginning at 8 p.m.
When a Pittsburgh DJ began playing “Hanky Panky” at dances two years after its original release, enthusiasm for the catchy song and its performers, Tommy James and The Shondells, spread quickly. James followed this success with two more hits: “Say I Am (What I Am)” and “It’s Only Love.” James then began working with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell, and the team produced seven smashes: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mirage,” “I Like The Way,” “Getting’ Together,” “Out Of The Blue,” “Get Out Now” and the frequently covered “Mony Mony,” which took its title from the sign for the Mutual of New York (MONY) Insurance Company, visible from James’ Manhattan apartment. The trendsetting Tommy James was one of the first performers to venture into the world of music videos, creating a short film based on “Mony Mony” 13 years before the debut of MTV.
During the 1968 presidential campaign, Tommy James received an invitation from Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey to perform at his rallies and to head Humphrey’s Youth Affairs commission in the event of a victory. Richard Nixon won the presidency, and upon James’ return from the campaign, he wrote and produced the groundbreaking Crimson and Clover album that spawned the hits “Crimson and Clover” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” James set trends once again on his next album, Cellophane Symphony, using the newly developed Moog Synthesizer to create psychedelic songs such as the Top 10 hit, “Sweet Cherry Wine.”
In all, James has had 23 gold singles, nine gold and platinum albums, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Even cover versions of his songs have made history, with Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” competing with Billy Idol’s version of “Mony Mony” for the No. 1 spot on the pop chart for a full month in 1987. Both singles eventually went to the top of the chart, marking the first time that cover versions of songs by the same artist topped the charts back to back.
Tickets for this and all other summer concerts are $42 for reserved seats and can be purchased in person at Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave. or online at DiscoverCapeMayNJ.com. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/capemaycity and follow us on Twitter @capemaycity. For more information, call (609) 884-9563 or (609) 884-9565.