Tommy James

Davy Jones Tribute Show At BB King’s–More Than Just A Tribute To "The World’s Greatest Tambourine Player"!

Photos and text by Anne M. Raso

Last night’s Davy Jones Tribute show at BB King’s Times Square–hosted by legendary New York deejay Cousin Brucie (who’s been with Sirius for over seven years now)–was more than just a tribute to the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest tambourine player”! Yes, he actually liked to be introduced at his solo shows that way and it always evoked tons of laughter from audiences.

Guests were kept under wraps til the last minute. Most songs–from both Jones’ Monkees and solo careers–were performed by the backing bands from both careers, both intact and blended. They joked about being replaced and then brought back into the fold–they loved their boss even though almost all of them got fired at some point!

It was great to see legendary drummer and regular Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp counselor Sandy Gennaro behind the kit (he started with the Monkees on a reunion tour back on 1987 and was with them on and off for 19 years).  He also had some of the best personal Davy stories to tell, including the time Davy put on his work clothes one Sunday after a show at Westbury Music Fair and helped the sticksman build a stone wall in his Long Island backyard! Needless to say, many neighbors came by to take photographs. The oddest moment of the evening was Gennaro singing “Dominique” by The Singing Nun with some sort of T-shirt draped over his head.

On hand to speak was the always eloquent Tommy James as well as Jones’ longtime friend, former Rascal Gene Cornish (who now helms Gene Cornish’s Guitar Club For Men). James had some great Happy Together Tour stories but spoke from the heart about what kind of person he truly felt Jones was and how fun he was to do shows with. Jones most recent band got to share remembrances of him on the road and lots of their “home movies” were shown. There was even footage of Jones singing “Personal Penquin” for a kids’ CD that came out of a few years ago–he even performed the song at the Kennedy Center wearing a penguin suit. Some of the even more unusual footage featured him stripping to one of his most romantic solo ballads–he was nude except for a single black sock at one point!

Deana Martin, who starred in a Monkees’ episode as a Davy love interest and also dated him in real life, told stories about Davy coming to her house and hangin’ with her large family of seven kids–she also performed “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes” and the last song she ever performed with Davy live. (She would pop up and perform at his solo shows when they were in the same town and they had a nearly 50-year friendship.)

The horseman side of Mr. Jones was shown as well. He had a total of 16 horses spread between ranches in Florida, Pennsylvania and California and the evening’s proceeds all went to the Davy Jones Equine Foundation. Daughters Talia and Annabelle were on hand and talked about the various horses that were Jones’ favorites and how he personally cared for them while not out on the road. There was even a touching film from a Pennsylvania neighbor who would give him an update on his horses there and her personal dealings with them after he got back from tours.

The big finale was–not surprisingly–Peter Tork coming out to perform his wonderful Monkees’ classic (originally with lead vocals by Michael Nesmith), “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round?” Peter’s banjo licks as well as vocal abilities were in top form, but the moment everyone was waiting for was when Micky Dolenz joined him onstage for “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “I’m A Believer” and “Daydream Believer.” It simply doesn’t get better than that for diehard Monkees fans, with the exception of the elusive Mike Nesmith showing up! But no one expected that despite his touching tribute to his late Monkeesmate on his Facebook page shortly after Davy’s passing!

It was nice that all fans could walk up to Annabelle Jones and reminisce about her dad after the show. Last night’s tribute was one we won’t forget easily here at–and we’re not monkeeing around! We have some exclusive clips for you from this magical night below!


Tommy James: Guest Speaker at Hubert H. Humphrey 100th Anniversary Celebration May 27

On May   27,  2011, Tommy James will be speaking at a fundraising luncheon in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hubert H. Humphrey, former Vice President and U.S. Senator from Minnesota. This event will will help raise funds to build a memorial on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capital and will be hosted by Humphrey’s son, Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey (who personally invited Tommy), and former Vice President Walter F. Mondale. The luncheon will take place at the Minneapolis Club in Minnesota and starts at noon.
The long-time friendship between the rock legend and the high-profile public figure began in 1968 when then-Vice President Humphrey asked James to join him in his nationwide campaign for the presidency. Along the way, the young rock ‘n‘ roll artist and the U.S. statesman became close friends, a relationship that continued until Mr. Humphrey’s passing in 1978.

The proposed memorial will honor Mr. Humphrey’s years of service and legacy founded upon the principle that – in Mr. Humphrey’s words – “the moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the
shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

The programs main feature will be a panel discussion by former Vice President Walter Mondale and Norm Sherman who was Press Secretary to Senator/Vice President Humphrey. Mr. James will be speaking of his time with Hubert Humphrey and, along with other dignitaries, will be
recognized during proceedings.

For additional information on Tommy James please visit and

Legendary Recording and Performing Artist Tommy James To Visit NYU Campus For Lecture

Tommy James, the legendary recording and performing artist, songwriter, record producer, and now author of the critically acclaimed book Me, the Mob, and the Music, will give a music seminar for students at New York University’s Clive Davis Department of Music, 194 Mercer Street (between Bleecker and Houston), New York City, on Friday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. The event is not open to the public.

With 24 gold singles, nine platinum albums, and over 100 million records sold worldwide, James’s songs are covered by over 300 artists globally, including Springsteen, REM, Prince, Broken Bells, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Cher, Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson, and even the Boston Pops. His music is in 26 films to date, as well as in current television shows and commercials, making him an integral part of rock-and-roll history and pop culture. Some of his hits include Crimson & Clover, I Think We’re Alone Now, Crystal Blue Persuasion, Mony Mony, Draggin’ the Line, Hanky Panky, Sweet Cherry Wine, Mirage, and the list goes on!

Because of his affiliation with Roulette Records and its mob-connected owner, Morris Levy, James was uniquely positioned to witness the behind-the-scenes activities having to do with the darker side of the record business. His book, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and The Shondells is a firsthand account of his experiences in the music industry.

In his NYU seminar with Recorded Music students, James will discuss his career, including the pressure to make hit records, the threats, his working in the studio and exploring new recording techniques, his exploits on the road, his battle with drugs and alcohol, and his recovery. A Q&A session will follow. He will also make himself available to sign books.

The Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is the first of its kind to provide professional business and artistic training toward aBachelor of Fine Arts degree. The undergraduate program is designed to provide professional training for students who aspire to succeed as creative entrepreneurs in the music industry. Since it opened its doors in 2003, the program has been a leader in training aspiring music entrepreneurs. It has been on the cutting edge of music education, offering innovative courses like “The History of Def Jam,” “Emerging Music Trends,” and “Branding.” The program bears the name of its chief patron and advisor, Clive Davis.

Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells

Tommy James: Still Walking In Crimson And Clover! A Quick Update!

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, 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!

The Mac Wire’s Hot Pick For Tonight: All Star R&R Fantasy Camp Jam Fundraiser At BB Kings’s NYC

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Two of tonight’s luminaries–Rudy Sarzo and Roger Daltrey–their all-star jam tonight in honor of Mark Farner’s son Jesse is going to be a rock blockbuster! (On Sunday at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, Roger performed “Behind Blue Eyes” with Rudy, a camp counselor, and his band Heart Of Steel.)

Mark Farner–one of the most talented of all the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp counselors and of course, a rock legend. Will Roger Daltrey perform Who songs with Mark (AKA “The Captain”)  tonight at BB King’s Times Square at the benefit for his son Jesse? We have to keep our lips sealed, but we think there’s a good chance personally! 
By Anne Raso

We were just lucky enough to spend time hanging out with Mark Farner and his group of Rock And Roll Fantasy Campers (who call themselves Red In The Hood, partially because of their talented red-haired female lead vocalist, Christy Hemme, a hostess of Spike TV’s TNA Wrestling). Mark has been one of the most inspirational “camp counselors” and really gives 100 per cent into coaching his rock-star-wannabe pupils. He also let anyone camper who wanted to jam with him last night over at the camp, which takes place at the Gibson Studios over in midtown (the space was formerly know for housing the Hit Factory and is still divided up into many individual studios where the campers did their thing).

Tonight at BB King’s is a benefit for Mark’s son Jesse Farner, 21, who is paralyzed after a severe neck cord injury. When we spoke to Mark yesterday, he told that he is totally renovating his Michigan home to be handicap-friendly for Jesse, and it is a big undertaking. 

Being the legend that he is, Mark will be making some foot-stomping music tonight with not only the fabulously talented Rock And Roll Fantasy campers, but some of its biggest luminaries! Yes, we snuck into rehearsals yesterday, and caught all the counselors (including Rudy Sarzo, Mark Farner, Sandy Genaro, Mark Hudson and Richie Kotzen) jamming together with Roger Daltrey on Who songs and you will not want to miss this. Simon Kirke was on bass and it was a blast. Tonight, performing on the bill besides Mr. Daltrey as the headliner, will be 3 Doors Down and Cliff Williams of AC/DC. It’s a rare mix of artists you will never get to see together again–so head to town or where a frown! And remember that the show is for a great, great cause!

TICKETS: Tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster. Included in $300 ticket price are early VIP seating, meet and greet with Mark Farner and friends. Tickets just for show at 7PM are also available for $50–go to, and for more info.

Photos: Anne Raso

Rock Legend Tommy James and Aura Entertainment Team Up For New Music Projects

Ed Osborne, VP of Licensing & Special Markets for Aura Entertainment, has negotiated an exclusive agreement with UK-based Angel Air Records on behalf of rock legend Tommy James for overseas distribution of James’ Aura Records music. The initial October, 2010 release will be a CD/DVD 2 disc set of Tommy’s latest studio CD, Hold The Fire, and an in-concert greatest hits DVD recorded at New York’s legendary Bitter End nightclub. (SJPCD345-due for release on 4th October 2010) 

It will be followed by three double-album CDs in the first quarter of 2011. 

Angel Air Records, headed by founder Peter Purnell, will distribute releases from Tommy’s Aura Records catalogue to various international territories, including England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, France, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Benelux New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and others.

“Like millions of others, I’m a lifelong fan of Tommy James,” says Peter Purnell, “and am very enthusiastic about offering his catalog in Europe and Japan, where he has legions of fans.”
 Angel Air also works closely with Amazon and Play, the largest etailers in Europe, and will handle press and broadcast media promotion to press and radio in tandem with Aura Entertainment in the U.S. 

The October CD/DVD set will be followed in early 2011 by the first of several two-albums-on-one CD from the Aura Entertainment catalog. 

Aura Entertainment is a full-service music business company headed up by Tommy James to handle licensing and promotion of his music, touring, and merchandise sales. 

Founded in 1997, Angel Air Records is a highly-respected, UK-based company specializing in rock and pop music from the 1960s into the twenty-first century.

Tommy James has sold over 100  million records worldwide. His hits include such classics as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” Hanky Panky,” “Mirage,” “Sweet Cherry Wine” and “Draggin’ The Line.”

His best-selling autobiography – Me, the Mob, and the Music – was published by Simon & Schuster/Scribner.  It is headed for Broadway in 2011 and a major motion picture based on the book is now in development for a 2012 release.

Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells

Get Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells Now!

The First Annual Rock Con: Catching Up With Classic Rockers And More!

From a world-class performance by the Smithereens to getting to “meet and greet” with pal Tommy James to seeing classic rock art by Paul Bryan, Jr., a fun time was had by all at the first annual Rock Con!

Photos: Anne Raso
Rock Con promoter Charles Rosenary interviews founding Beach Boy Al Jardine.

by Anne M. Raso staffers attended the first annual Rock Con at the Meadowlands Sheraton in East Rutherford, NJ, this past weekend and we have to admit that it was the largest congregation of classic 60s through 90s rockers we have ever encountered in one place. Hey, if there is a COMIC CON for movie fans to meet their idols, and a FAN FAIR for country fans to do the same, why can’t there be a ROCK CON for rock fans? It has been an idea that is long overdue! We remember back in the 70s when there was an event called the ROCK AND ROLL CONVENTION at New York’s now-defunct Diplomat Hotel, and while there was memorabilia for sale, a rock movie and film clip room and concerts by classic rock faves (we will eternally remember a killer show by a spandex-clad Rob Tyner circa 1979), there was never a place for rock fans to meet their faves!
    The bigger stars available at Rock Con for signings and photo ops at personal booths or rooms included Tommy James, Al Jardine and The Smithereens. The main celeb room included such 60s posters as Andy Kim, Hilton Valentine of The Animals and members of Santo & Johnny, The Angels, Vanilla Fudge and The Rascals. Overall, there were about 100 stars big and small–and yes, there were a lot of “one hit wonders” but it was a lot of fun to meet them and here tales from the golden years of rock! 
    For those who could not get enough “days of classic rock” tales, the panels provided more inside fodder–we felt privileged to be able to sit in on “We Miss AM Radio” (featuring Andy Kim, Phil “Fan” Volk of The Raiders, Ron Dante of Archies fame, Beverly Bremner and Paul Peterson), and the “Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame” panel (featuring Gene Cornish, Marty Balin, Hilton Valentine, Terry Sylvester and latter-day Yardbirds guitarist John Idan).

   In the main ballroom of the Sheraton were non-stop music sets, panels and Friday night’s first annual Rock Con Awards. Ninety-three-year-old Sid Bernstein got a standing O from 60s  dance show host Clay Cole and there were even a few tears shed in the audience over that one. Clay recounted the whole story about how the promoter of the Beatles’ Shea Stadium shows first got the Beatles over here to play Carnegie Hall and it sold out about five times faster than any other artists’ show at the famed venue (and at something like $2.50 to $5 per ticket)! After the awards, we stayed for a little of the afterjam, and enjoyed Hilton Valentine performing “House Of The Rising Sun” (his opening guitar licks on that are among the most recognizable in all of classic rock) and Andy Kim performing his biggest hits including “Rock Me Gently” and “Baby I Love You.” There were daytime performances all three days of Rock Con and for those who love original garage sounds from back in t he day, there were sets with original members of the Vagrants and Blues Magoos.
     There was some beautiful rock art for sale at various sections of the second floor of the hotel, but hands-down “hit picks” were the black and white acrylic paintings based on famous rock photos done by Newport Beach artist Paul Bryan, Jr. Bryan has given his original works to the likes of Madonna, Bob Dylan and even President Obama and he has the thank you letters from them to prove it. As we go to press, a classic Jimi is on its way to the late guitar great’s half-sister Janie Hendrix (to see Bryan’s work, check out or email

Would we go to back to Rock Con next year? No doubt! We have to say hats off to promoter Charles Rosenay who was previously best-known for his Liverpool rock tours. Charles had a big job ahead of him and the event was worth more than the $25 a day charged (for advance tickets). We would have paid that just for the fabulous half-hour Friday daytime performance by The Smithereens which was probably our favorite show of the entire convention!
     For those rock fans concerned about cost, most of the stars charged less then $20 for photo ops and merchandise for sale, and fans were allowed to bring their own items to sign. Our only criticism is that we hope that there will be even more rock movies to view next year instead of just five or six–
The Wrecking Crew documentary was our hands-down favorite, but we would like to see a room of just videos and promotional clips from the golden days of rock and roll!

Tommy James poses with TMW staffer, Anne  Raso.
Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells
Get Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells on Amazon Now!

Rock/Pop Legend Tommy James To Attend RockCon In New Jersey

ROCK/POP LEGEND TOMMY JAMES will be attending the ROCK CON -WEEKEND OF 100 ROCK STARS at the MEADOWLANDS SHERATON HOTEL in NEW JERSEY – JULY 30-AUGUST 1ST…….Tommy will be signing his autobiography, ME, THE MOB AND THE MUSIC and available for a ‘meet and greet’ with fans on July 31st….other memorabilia and merchandise will be available….”I am looking forward to this event because it gives me a chance to spend time with the fans up close and personal,”stated James.