About two years ago, Tommy James was performing an outdoor concert, free.
It was a gorgeous, June evening. A soft breeze, not too hot … just perfect.
At first I was discouraged to go because two artists from my generation, that I actually love, recorded Tommy’s hits (“Mony Mony” by Billy Idol and “Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett) and I felt they were annoyingly overplayed. And especially annoying was the fact that whenever the Billy Idol version was played in a bar, drunken imbeciles would scream, “Get laid, get fucked!” after each verse. URGH! Not my idea of a good time.
My husband said, “Did you know Tommy James was playing?”
I said, “Yeah, but …”
He said, “Yeah, but WHAT?”
And I explained how I was turned off to the music because of how the Billy Idol version was made out to be such a joke.
“But it’s TOMMY JAMES!” he said.
And sure enough, the most magical part of the evening was hearing, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” — a spiritual song about the coming of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is coming!” said Tommy James.
After the show, my husband and I walked over to his trailer and met him. We all shook hands — and he had a firm handshake. I thanked him for the free show and wished him a beautiful evening.
He thanked us for coming and looked us both directly in our eyes when he spoke to us.
About six months later, his book came out: “Me, the Mob and the Music.” At the time I was writing for the Verona/Cedar Grove Patch online. Since Tommy James lives in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, I figured I could write about him.
I contacted his manager, Carol, and she generously hooked me up with a copy of his book and several CDs, as well as tickets to see Tommy perform at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, New Jersey, making it the second time my husband and I got to see him perform within a year.
When Tommy James called my house for the interview, I talked to him about 40 minutes. And then wrote this article, which was published in January 2011: http://bloomfield.patch.com/articles/the-hanky-panky-that-went-on-at-a-legendary-record-label-2