Photos And Text By Anne M. Raso
We were lucky enough to catch up with pop legend Tommy James at the recent Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp held at the Gibson Guitar Studios in New York City. We were very impressed with the 60s and 70s pop legend’s day of “guesting” at the camp. TJ was not an official camp counselor, but he came in to do a Q&A session at lunch time with legendary drummer/producer/camp counselor Sandy Gennaro and also to perform many of his hit songs with the different camp groups. Tommy’s throat was not in the best condition that day so he just played guitar on his biggest classics–including a beautiful version of “Crimson And Clover” with The Dicksteins, the camp band spearheaded by counselor Kip Winger which, with Tommy on rhythm guitar, featured a grand total three guitarists and two drummers. Needless to say, the sound in that particular studio was quite riveting and also “Wall Of Sound”-ish!
Before he started his big day off, we spoke to Tommy about his current goings-on at the R&R camp office that normally belonged to counselor Rudy Sarzo. As we have reported here before, Tommy has been working out the deals for both a play (that will eventually come to Broadway after touring) and movie based on his 2010 autobiography, Me, The Mob & The Music. We know he has spent a lot of the recent past in negotiations with the famous Broadway family The Nederlanders. As for the movie, Martin Scorsese originally expressed interest but he is booked up for three years with other film and TV projects, but we know that a movie announcement is due momentarily.
Tommy, who presently resides in Cedar Grove, NJ, with longtime wife Lynda, a former NYC booking agent, told us the inside scoop on the play and biopic: “The Nederlanders are going to be the big producers on the play, which is wonderful and the lead producer who is going to be very hands on is Jeff Davis, who is now doing ‘Rock Of Ages.’ I am very, very thrilled with them…what is really wonderful is that the Nederlanders are great at putting mammoth deals together–their company actually wants to put the play on first in San Francisco and Singapore.
As for the movie soundtrack, “I am going to of course insist on consulting on the music–and we are going to recreate some of our session very accurately in the film–especially ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, ‘Crimson And Clover’ and ‘Hanky Panky’–I have to show those songs in the films being recorded with the accurate equipment of the time.” Tommy says he is willing to let the lead actor sing: “I think it is necessary for the actor to sing–lip syncing just looks too fake.”
Tommy has also been thrilled with how his book has been doing since its release last year–if you look on amazon.com, you will see that many people that purchase the Keith Richards autobiography, Life, seem to pick up Tommy’s book at the same time. Apparently, this rock legend is rolling still rolling in fields of “crimson and clover”–even though he outed nearly all the mobsters involved with Roulette Records and the music business in general circa the 1960s and 1970s and had to eventually sue for unpaid royalties. He admits that he had to wait for all the dark characters in question to be dead before writing Me, The Mob The Music. The son of a mobster Tommy knew “back in the day” recently met up with him and spoke of the “good old days,” but fortunately, really just wanted to reminisce and get his book signed.
We can’t wait to check out both the TJ play and film–and you can bet that you will hear all the formal details about them once they’re announced right here on themacwire.com!