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Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells Hardcover – February 16, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 213 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An insightful autobiography."--Mojo magazine

"The songwriter shows how bare-knuckled mafia operators made money from rock-and-roll's turbulent adolescence."--The Washington Post

About the Author

Tommy James (born Thomas Gregory Jackson, April 29, 1947, Dayton, Ohio) is the pop-rock star best known as the leader of Tommy James and the Shondells. Performing locally in Niles, Michigan, from the age of 12, James went on to record many top hits, including "Hanky Panky," "I Think We're Alone Now," "Mony Mony," "Crimson and Clover," "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Mirage," "Do Something to Me," "Gettin’ Together," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," and "Draggin' the Line." He has sold over 100 million records, has been awarded twenty-three gold singles, and nine gold and platinum albums. His songs are widely used in television and film, and have been covered by Joan Jett, Billy Idol, Tiffany, Tom Jones, Prince, and R.E.M. Tommy James continues to tour the country and record.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439128650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439128657
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Crescenzo C. Capece on February 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's incredible, but not surprising that Tommy James has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;he's one of their inexcusable oversights. His music has endured far more powerfully than he's usually given credit for, and to this day his live show walks the walk of the true independent rocker.
Me,the Mob and the Music is the harrowing tale not only of Tommy and the Shondells entrance into the world of rock and roll, but the story of how he survived being employed by one of the most notorious record biz cartels that ever existed(the infamous Morris Levy's Roulette label).
Music history lovers will get a kick out of learning the origins of how Tommy came to be a major hitmaker, and those who enjoy biographies will marvel at how a simple kid with a guitar innocently winds up at the center of a Soprano's worthy operetta! You'll sweat it out with Tommy as he is forced to come up with hit after hit (for a label where the quietest place on earth exists: the accounts payable department).You'll relive the pressures of the travel demands,personal sacrifices, over indulgences and the not so glamorous side of being a star as Tommy recounts
his days in the midst of a truly vibrant & creatively signifigant period of music. You'll even learn why he turned down the Woodstock gig that changed the music business forever, and how "Mony Mony" got its title.
The characters and situations Tommy walks you with and through are memorable as heck, and the story is told in a matter of fact,personable (and,yes,of course,occasionally egotistical) style that will have you racing through the pages. Once you're done you'll be craving to hear his great recordings again, and excitedly awaiting either the film version, or perhaps even a fabulous "Jersey Boys" style juke-box drama.This book proves Tommy James is still a hitmaker; God Bless him!
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Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wanted to sit down with you favorite artist - in this case, rock legend Tommy James - and have them tell you about their life and career, then here's your chance.

The "Me" refers to Tommy himself, who shares (in a first-person voice well captured by co-author, Martin Fitzpatrick) the amazing story of how a Midwest teen with a band and a dream ended up with the number one record in America ("Hanky Panky"), and went on to record a string of classic tracks. Along the way he weaves an engrossing tale of his personal behind-the-scenes struggles and triumphs, told with a healthy dose of trademark James wit.

"The Mob" - as in THE MOB - appears in the guise of one of the seminal figures in early R&B and rock 'n' roll, Roulette Records owner Morris Levy. Levy knew a hit record when he heard one and knew how to make it happen. Despite his darker side, Morris acted as James' surrogate music biz father, providing Tommy with the environment and support needed for him to be successful. What he didn't provide to James was the singer's hard-earned money, a fact that ultimately led to a "family" break-up. Such material makes for fascinating reading about a complex relationship, one that still looms large in James' life, long after Levy's death in 1990.

"The Music," of course, is why this book exists in the first place. From the garage-band "Hanky" to the party-rock "Mony Mony," the psychedelic "Crimson and Clover," the spiritual-pop ballad "Crystal Blue Persuasion," the singer/songwriter-anthem "Draggin' The Line" and many others, Tommy's musical legacy is rich and he has many a back-story to tell about how it came to be.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Gregory Jackson born on April 29, 1947 in Dayton, Ohio... would morph as a teenager into rock star Tommy James who along with various incarnations of the Shondells would sell over TWENTY-MILLION-ALBUMS-AND SINGLES-IN-EIGHTEEN-MONTHS... and yet make almost no royalty money. The reason is because of his signing a contract with Morris Levy and Roulette Records. The crux of James's story is that he tied his rock-and-roll dreams to a man who was "mobbed-up". In fact it wasn't Tommy's ultimate goal to sign with Levy. Levy was just one of a number of record companies that Tommy met with in looking for national representation for his first soon to be mega-hit "HANKY PANKY". Each company Tommy met with loved the record but by the time Tommy got back to his hotel Levy had told all the other companies to "BACK OFF" this guy's mine! And when your business associates include *ANTHONY "FAT TONY" SALERNO* of the *GENOVESE FAMILY* (Tony Soprano was modeled after Salerno.)... *GAETANO "CORKY" VASTOLA* an underboss for the DeCavalcante family... *DOMINICK "QUIET DOM" CIRILLO* a future acting boss of the *GENOVESE FAMILY*... *THOMAS "TOMMY RYAN" EBOLI* a *GENOVESE CRIME FAMILY HEAD... and *VINCENT "THE CHIN" GIGANTE* a future *GENOVESE FAMILY HEAD* with the longest run in Genovese history... among others... as daily associates most people shakingly did as they were told. Later in James's career which was marked by an amphetamine/upper addiction and heavy drinking... along with his fear of Levy and associates... he finally tried to confront Levy about his unpaid royalties... after having an audit taken. "THE NUMBERS WERE ASTONISHING. MORRIS OWED ME UPWARD OF FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. IT WAS JUST HORRENDOUS. EVEN WITH MY MISERABLE ROYALTY RATE HE OWED ME THAT MUCH.Read more ›
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