Tommy James to speak of his musical heydays, book

 TOMS RIVER – Tommy James, who rode the bubblegum and psychedelic rock genres to pop music stardom, will speak at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington Street, Friday April 30 at 7 p.m.

Tommy James, who appeared with the Shondells during the mid and late 1960s, sold more single hits from 1968 to 1969 than any other artist or group in the world, including The Beatles. But it was not the glamorous ride most people imagine, he wrote in his recently released book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells.”

Pressured by executives from Roulette Records, a company owned by reputed mobster Morris Levy, he was driven to come up with hit after hit. The pressures of travel demands, personal sacrifices and over indulgences, led to drug and alcohol abuse, James wrote. That chapter ended when he collapsed onstage during a 1970 performance.

James will discuss the era when rock n’ roll was sweeping the nation, when payola and strong arm tactics of organized crime were the norm, and what it was like, for better or worse, to be caught up in the middle of it all.

His musical hits, which sold over 100 million copies, include “Hanky Panky,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” “Mirage,” “Do Something to Me,” “Getting Together,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and “Draggin’ the Line.” He has been awarded 23 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.

This program is free and open to the public. Registration for the program is required. For more information or to register go to the library’s Web site http://www.theoceancountylibrary.org or call the operator at (732) 349-6200 or (609) 971-0514.

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