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

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Everyone knows the hits—“Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They are nuggets of rock and pop history. However, few know the unlikely story of how these hits came to be.. Tommy James was discovered in 1966 at the age of nineteen, and was pursued by every record mogul in New York until, inexplicab Everyone knows the hits—“Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They are nuggets of rock and pop history. However, few know the unlikely story of how these hits came to be.. Tommy James was discovered in 1966 at the age of nineteen, and was pursued by every record mogul in New York until, inexplicably, every offer but one quickly disappeared. James soon found himself in the office of Morris Levy at Roulette Records, where he was handed a pen and ominously promised “one helluva ride.” Morris Levy, the legendary “godfather” of the music business, needed some hits and Tommy would provide them.. Me, the Mob, and the Music tells the intimate story of the relationship between the bright-eyed, sweet-faced blonde musician from the heartland and the big, bombastic, brutal bully from the Bronx, who hustled, cheated, and swindled his way to the top of the music industry. It is also the story of this swaggering, wildly creative era of rock ‘n’ roll when payola and the strong arm tactics of the mob were the norm, and the hits kept coming..


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Everyone knows the hits—“Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They are nuggets of rock and pop history. However, few know the unlikely story of how these hits came to be.. Tommy James was discovered in 1966 at the age of nineteen, and was pursued by every record mogul in New York until, inexplicab Everyone knows the hits—“Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They are nuggets of rock and pop history. However, few know the unlikely story of how these hits came to be.. Tommy James was discovered in 1966 at the age of nineteen, and was pursued by every record mogul in New York until, inexplicably, every offer but one quickly disappeared. James soon found himself in the office of Morris Levy at Roulette Records, where he was handed a pen and ominously promised “one helluva ride.” Morris Levy, the legendary “godfather” of the music business, needed some hits and Tommy would provide them.. Me, the Mob, and the Music tells the intimate story of the relationship between the bright-eyed, sweet-faced blonde musician from the heartland and the big, bombastic, brutal bully from the Bronx, who hustled, cheated, and swindled his way to the top of the music industry. It is also the story of this swaggering, wildly creative era of rock ‘n’ roll when payola and the strong arm tactics of the mob were the norm, and the hits kept coming..

30 review for Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James The Shondells

  1. 5 out of 5

    Blog on Books

    This is SO good I want you to stop what you’re doing right now, IMMEDIATELY, and go to the store and buy this book. Because this is the most authentic account of how it really was. And why it can never be this way ever again. We were glued to the radio. When we saw acts on TV we wanted to be them. We combed our hair in front of the mirror for hours, struck poses, bought newfangled clothes. We wanted in. To a glamorous world based on the soundtrack of our lives, where a hit record made This is SO good I want you to stop what you’re doing right now, IMMEDIATELY, and go to the store and buy this book. Because this is the most authentic account of how it really was. And why it can never be this way ever again. We were glued to the radio. When we saw acts on TV we wanted to be them. We combed our hair in front of the mirror for hours, struck poses, bought newfangled clothes. We wanted in. To a glamorous world based on the soundtrack of our lives, where a hit record made everything work. Hell, he even talks about the kiddie records. Did you have kiddie records? You remember, pressed in pink and yellow plastic, Disney songs, cartoon ditties? Those were my first singles. And thereafter I bought a Ruff & Reddy album. The record was how you brought a little of the magic home. That’s how you belonged, by owning the vinyl. And we formed bands. Members flowing in and out, depending on their abilities, their girlfriends, the draft. The Vietnam war affected the culture more than anything. Not only did you ultimately rebel against it, you chose your course of behavior because of it. You stayed in school for the deferment. Dropping out could literally be a death sentence. And the business was all regional. Clear Channel was not blasting the same uniform crap across the land. You might not know what was going on a hundred miles away, that was like a different country. You were living in a village. Everybody was a rube. Except for those in New York City. Billed as a book about Morris Levy, the famous mobster who ran Roulette Records, James’s book is really about coming of age, discovering not only music, but sex and the city. We were infatuated by the music, it sculpted our lives. It’s all here. From Elvis to the record shops to the Beatles to “Where The Action Is”. Tommy describes the Capitol campaign for the Fab Four in December of ‘63, when almost no one had heard of the Liverpudlians. There was a series of teasing cut-outs adorning the countertop in the record store where Tommy worked, the Beatles didn’t face forward until “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was finally released. more… —— Bob Lefsetz is the author of “The Lefsetz Letter.” Famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I enjoyed many of Tommy James songs growing up. But, what interested me about this book was as the title suggest, his relationship with Morris Levy and Roulette Records. I was somewhat familiar with Roulette label since my parents had many Ronnie Hawkins records when he was signed to the label. I also know of the story of how Morris Levy sued John Lennon for using a line or two from a Chuck Berry song that Levy owned the rights to. I'm also fascinated from stories around this era of music. But I I enjoyed many of Tommy James songs growing up. But, what interested me about this book was as the title suggest, his relationship with Morris Levy and Roulette Records. I was somewhat familiar with Roulette label since my parents had many Ronnie Hawkins records when he was signed to the label. I also know of the story of how Morris Levy sued John Lennon for using a line or two from a Chuck Berry song that Levy owned the rights to. I'm also fascinated from stories around this era of music. But I have to say that Tommy comes across as kind of a jerk just worried about his own success when dealing with the song writers. It seems like every time someone had a song that they didn't want to give to Tommy because they really weren't getting paid, Tommy would run to Morris to get the hit instead of understanding that the songwriters were going through the same type of situation as himself. So, this read is not for everyone and Tommy is not an author, but it's a good read and I enjoyed it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    I really enjoyed this thoughtful, humble autobiography from Niles, Michigan rock teen to star briefly eclipsing The Beatles on the charts to redemption from pills and booze. Some of the most interesting parts were in a sense technical - a category of information difficult to make so interesting - including the mechanics of trade journal drive chart positions at the time (Billboard averaging orders and sales, etc.) and vintage studio techniques as heard in "Crimson and Clover" (varying voltage to I really enjoyed this thoughtful, humble autobiography from Niles, Michigan rock teen to star briefly eclipsing The Beatles on the charts to redemption from pills and booze. Some of the most interesting parts were in a sense technical - a category of information difficult to make so interesting - including the mechanics of trade journal drive chart positions at the time (Billboard averaging orders and sales, etc.) and vintage studio techniques as heard in "Crimson and Clover" (varying voltage to affect speed). Interestingly, the oft heard single version of that song is from a radio station bootleg copy.... ...and with all this you get baseball bat-wielding mafiosi, too!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Hopkins

    I always loved Tommy James and his music. Now I appreciate all he went through to make it. What a wild story! Music lovers of the Mony Mony, I Think We’re Alone Now, Crimson and Clover generation, read and enjoy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gina Pulaski

    I have loved Tommy James' music since I first began listening to the radio, around 1969. With my parents' help, I searched record shops until I had compiled quite a collection of his albums. I think he has probably the best voice in music, and while I love all the big hit records he has done, many of my favorites are obscure album cuts. So when the book came out, I had to buy a copy. Quickly. I love it, and have read it several times. It's not just your typical autobiography (which I'm sure I wo I have loved Tommy James' music since I first began listening to the radio, around 1969. With my parents' help, I searched record shops until I had compiled quite a collection of his albums. I think he has probably the best voice in music, and while I love all the big hit records he has done, many of my favorites are obscure album cuts. So when the book came out, I had to buy a copy. Quickly. I love it, and have read it several times. It's not just your typical autobiography (which I'm sure I would have liked anyway); it is a fascinating account of what went on in the record industry, particularly Roulette, in the 60's. I thought I knew a lot about Tommy James, but this was an eye opener and VERY interesting. I also thought it was extremely well-written, and I, unlike some of the other reviewers, enjoyed the (sometimes subtle) humor. This is a very talented man with a very interesting story to tell.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Very Interesting I was a big fan of Tommy James music growing up. Little did I know of his connection to Morris Levy and the mob who owned Roulette Records, the company which owned all of the Shondell's music. An interesting behind the scenes look at the mafia/music world of the sixties and seventies and a fun, quick read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Elmslie

    Very readable. The book just invites you in. It's about mobster/music executive Morris Levy almost as much as it's about James, but that's okay. James seemed fascinated by him, and it's a side of the music scene I've never read about before. I'm glad I gave this a try.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    This is a fun read, but as a musician I would have liked more info on how Morris Levy ran his business and his relationship with organized crime. There's a very interesting interview on YouTube of Tommy James promoting this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frank Taranto

    I picked this up because I am a big fan of Tommy James's music. I enjoyed bits and parts of the story, but other parts were difficult to read. I enjoyed learning about how the mob was involved in pop music.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Miller

    A walk through the life of a bubblegum star never read so easy. it's length, 215 pages or so, is perfect - it's brief but effective and full of anecdotes, the milk of the memoir -

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schwensen

    Dedicated pop and rock music fans – and we’re talking about the serious that could consider themselves historians – know about many of the underhanded schemes that have marked the industry. From Alan Freed and payola to Beatles manager Brian Epstein undervaluing his “boys” for a recording contract and merchandising. Okay, maybe in the beginning no one truly realized the millions of dollars that were on the table, but by the time Tommy James came along the game was on and the big money players of Dedicated pop and rock music fans – and we’re talking about the serious that could consider themselves historians – know about many of the underhanded schemes that have marked the industry. From Alan Freed and payola to Beatles manager Brian Epstein undervaluing his “boys” for a recording contract and merchandising. Okay, maybe in the beginning no one truly realized the millions of dollars that were on the table, but by the time Tommy James came along the game was on and the big money players of the underworld wanted their piece of the action. * This is a fascinating inside look at a music industry basically controlled by the mob. The hucksters like Colonel Tom Parker (a brilliant scam just by calling himself a Colonel) and the upper class polite suits such as Epstein were replaced by sinister wise guys whose methods of negotiating were deals that couldn’t be refused and enforced by muscular assistants armed with baseball bats rather than legal documents. * Tommy James maintains his profile as a midwestern kid dedicated to making music his career. His memories of local musicians and venues, traveling, and playing one night stands while balancing his personal life will grab and hold the attention of any rock fan. When his success starts to happen readers will want to cheer him on, but then he falls into the dark side of the business. * James pulls back the curtain on his career achievements and the powers behind it. As a musician all his dreams come true, but as a trade off it’s these same powers that take advantage of his talents and naivety. His descriptions of people, places, meetings, dangers, concerts and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that was part of the 1960’s and early 70’s journey make this a very compelling and entertaining read. Tommy doesn’t come off as a complete angel. After all, in the music business those seem to be few and far between. But compared to the wise guys running the show, you’ll end up rooting for him and glad to know he’s still out there living his dream – and this time actually getting paid for it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ROBERT

    This was great. It was 5 stars for me but I cut my teeth on his singles. If you had no exposure to him except for maybe Tiffany and Billy Idol getting hits covering his music, or just hearing a song on a movie soundtrack, it would be a 3 probably. It all started with his hit Hanky Panky in the early 60s while he was still in HS in Niles Michigan. He had a number more like Mony Mony, I think We're Alone Now, Crimson and Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Draggin the Line. H This was great. It was 5 stars for me but I cut my teeth on his singles. If you had no exposure to him except for maybe Tiffany and Billy Idol getting hits covering his music, or just hearing a song on a movie soundtrack, it would be a 3 probably. It all started with his hit Hanky Panky in the early 60s while he was still in HS in Niles Michigan. He had a number more like Mony Mony, I think We're Alone Now, Crimson and Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Draggin the Line. He was signed by Morris Levy after Hanky Panky. Levy was a mobster and never gave him an accounting of sales. He would just give him money when he needed it and urge him to write another hit. James later had an accountant look into it and concluded Levy had ripped him off for around 40m in royalties. James left but didn't sue because he knew he wouldn't survive it. Levy was a true mobster who had killed for less. James says he could not write the book until all the players at Levy's Roulette Records were dead, including Levy. Levy was part of the Genovese family. James started to get royalties after Levy died. His songs are still covered and in movies. He speaks fondly of the good times he had with Levy though. James was a singles 45 rpm musician competing in a musical world that was changing to albums. Still, he had a good career (50 years) and made others a lot of money. He is still alive residing in Palm Springs I believe. If you were around listening to Hanky Panky and like that era of music, I think it is a must read. It is only 225 pages. They are making a movie based on the book. If that era of music does not interest you, then it is probably a pass. James was one of the last of the 45 rpm kings. He even mentioned how 8 tracks, cassettes and boom boxes gutted the singles market.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    For whatever reason, celebrity memoirs seem to sell better when they are tell-all tales. In fact, it seems the more salacious, the better. If that's what intrigues you about such works, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells won't fit the bill. If, though, you're interested in the then-nascent pop music industry of the 1960s as experienced by a still teenaged star who ends up signed with the "Godfather" of that business, Tommy James's memoir may be worth your For whatever reason, celebrity memoirs seem to sell better when they are tell-all tales. In fact, it seems the more salacious, the better. If that's what intrigues you about such works, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells won't fit the bill. If, though, you're interested in the then-nascent pop music industry of the 1960s as experienced by a still teenaged star who ends up signed with the "Godfather" of that business, Tommy James's memoir may be worth your time. To a certain extent, the story of Tommy James encapsulates the story of rock music in the 1960s. James, born Thomas Jackson, details how he began playing in bands at age 12, the years spent forming bands and playing local and regional venues, and how he ended up married and a father just shy of age 18. While still 16, James and the Shondells, all local Michigan guys, recorded and released a regional single, "Hanky Panky." Somehow, although the song would soon disappear regionally, two years later it became a huge hit in Pittsburgh, launching James and the song to national success. Even that success reflects a young industry. By the time "Hanky Panky" broke out in Pittsburgh, the Shondells had long since disbanded. As the singer, it was James and James alone who was recruited and marketed to the New York music industry. He signed with Roulette Records, owned by Morris Levy, who was reportedly "connected" and known as the "Godfather" of the record industry. It was common at the time to record albums after a single or two had already been released. Once "Hanky Panky" got national release and shot to number one, it was clear there needed to be an album -- which also meant James needed to find new Shondells. He did so in a Pittsburgh band called the Raconoeturs, who quickly discarded that name and ended up in a New York City recording studio and on national tours with James and would rocket to more anonymous fame with him. The only common denominator between the Shondells' first single and first album was James himself. Much of the book discusses the relationship and dealings between James and Levy. Levy had moved from nightclubs, including the famous Birdland, into the record industry. He founded and bought a number of record labels, including the K-Tel label that would be near ubiquitous in the 1970s. The descriptions by James give the impression the Roulette offices were a cross between corporate and wise guy America, with secretaries and accountants crossing paths with well-dressed guys with baseball bats who dealt with record bootleggers. One of Levy's keys was to obtain the rights to songs, occasionally even having his or his young son's name added as a writer. That happened with James, whose income came largely from the concert circuit. Although Levy would give James a check here and there, royalty accountings and payments bordered on nonexistent. In large part thanks to Levy and Roulette, though, James and the Shondells were a popular part of the developing sound of the late 1960s. "Hanky Panky" had a basic, almost primitive, rock and roll type feel. In 1967, "I Think We're Alone Now," which reached number four on the charts, would be credited by some as inventing "bubblegum" music, a claim to fame James acknowledges yet still tries to distance himself from. Then, in 1968, "Crimson and Clover" would reach number one with a psychedelic rock approach. James relates the stories behind both the writing and recording of many of these hits, including confirming that the tune "Mony Mony" got its name when, taking a break from writing the song, he saw a neon sign on the Mutual of New York building that kept spelling out "MONY". Me, the Mob, and the Music seems to almost take a sense of pride in Levy's background and reputation. James does not hesitate to describe incidents that suggest organized crime ties or seeing in meeting such individuals in Levy's office. He recalls one time when, after leaving Levy's office, "all I could think of was how many murders, crimes and God knows what else I had just shaken hands with." Levy going missing when a battle broke out for control of . At the same time, it is clear that despite being among the artists whose money Levy kept, James had a great deal of respect and gratitude for Levy, developing almost a familial relationship with him. Often, though, it feels like James is merely skimming the surface or picking out highlights here and there. In fact, the extent to which the book stays away from the tell-all style is reflected in the fact that at times it seems to actually ignore aspects of his life. For example, although we James talks about his first wife and their son and the guilt he felt as he achieved stardom while they remained in Michigan, he never discusses what type of relationship, if any, he had with the boy as he grew up. Rather, both wife and son fade from the story once James mentions they got divorced. Likewise, James spends little time on his career after the Shondells broke up in 1970 and gives no glimpse of how someone who suddenly achieved worldwide fame and success in his teens and early twenties copes once he is out of the spotlight. More notably, while James mentions that Levy owed him some $40 million in royalties, there is no discussion of when and how that was ever resolved. As a result, James is not always a thorough historian. Still, he tells enough of the story and his experiences to not only give us a look inside the rock music world of the late 1960s but to leave little doubt he did get "one helluva ride" like Levy promised when he signed him. (Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Roo

    Having lived through many of the years that Tommy James had hits, I recognized many of the songs. I had no idea of how prolific he was, and how he also produced music of other groups. He had a love/hate relationship or perhaps it could be called co-dependency, with Morris Levy of Roulette Records. Whenever James would ask for the money he was owed, Levy would shoot back with insults about his drug addictions. James' story about his dealings with Levy also reveal his thuggish behavior and underha Having lived through many of the years that Tommy James had hits, I recognized many of the songs. I had no idea of how prolific he was, and how he also produced music of other groups. He had a love/hate relationship or perhaps it could be called co-dependency, with Morris Levy of Roulette Records. Whenever James would ask for the money he was owed, Levy would shoot back with insults about his drug addictions. James' story about his dealings with Levy also reveal his thuggish behavior and underhanded business ethics. Through the book I laughed when James laughed at the way his younger self dealt with things. He was self deprecating about his treatment of his wives, his son, and even Morris Levy. He should be, because he was given things on a silver platter even if it did have strings attached. This was an interesting read (audiobook), and makes me want to listen to his songs and see if there are any YouTube videos of concerts or his disastrous Ed Sullivan appearance.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Zukus

    Wish I could give this a 5 star review because it definitely kept my attention throughout. A few complaints: 1) I vividly recall James, in a televised interview in the 1970's, mention a heroin addiction. Here, he only claims a pill addiction. I dislike sanitized memoirs. 2) I love musical memoirs that go into the nuts and bolts of the production of a famous record. How can you talk about "Crimson and Clover" and not talk about the vibrato fade-out? How did you do you? How did you think of it? C' Wish I could give this a 5 star review because it definitely kept my attention throughout. A few complaints: 1) I vividly recall James, in a televised interview in the 1970's, mention a heroin addiction. Here, he only claims a pill addiction. I dislike sanitized memoirs. 2) I love musical memoirs that go into the nuts and bolts of the production of a famous record. How can you talk about "Crimson and Clover" and not talk about the vibrato fade-out? How did you do you? How did you think of it? C'mon! 3) While I appreciated the focus on mobster Morris Levy, I still have a hard time believing James accepted receiving literally NO record royalties, yet there was no physical threats of violence from Levy, nor did James attempt any serious legal remedies. His complacency is still head-scratching. Other than these complaints, an important look into a great group (really a solo act with backing musicians) during a very special era.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    As with many rock / pop bios, this book is heavy on the subject's glory years (1965-1971) and light on what has happened since (this autobiography was written in 2010). This works in part because the focus is on Tommy James's relationship with the unscrupulous but pop music savvy head of Roulette Records, Morris Levy, who died in 1990. The tone is breezy and self-deprecating enough so that you might forgive James for succumbing to a number of pop star vices (addiction to amphetamines, recurring As with many rock / pop bios, this book is heavy on the subject's glory years (1965-1971) and light on what has happened since (this autobiography was written in 2010). This works in part because the focus is on Tommy James's relationship with the unscrupulous but pop music savvy head of Roulette Records, Morris Levy, who died in 1990. The tone is breezy and self-deprecating enough so that you might forgive James for succumbing to a number of pop star vices (addiction to amphetamines, recurring adultery). I would have liked more analysis of the music, especially some of his lightly selling but more substantive albums, such as 1969's "Cellophane Symphony," an album I'd never heard of before reading the book. In all, this book is like James's most famous hits: light and catchy. How much can you say about "Hanky Panky"? It's a great pop song.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen Bean

    Although I enjoyed reading about the Tommy James songs I loved when in my 20’s, Crimson & Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion, etc., I didn’t really enjoy this book. There is no depth. He glosses over everything. You get the impression that life happened around him and he had nothing to do with it. I feel that with several marriages, drug abuse, mob connections (that are really downplayed until the last chapters), a variety of band members, there may have been some depths of feelings i.e fear, l Although I enjoyed reading about the Tommy James songs I loved when in my 20’s, Crimson & Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion, etc., I didn’t really enjoy this book. There is no depth. He glosses over everything. You get the impression that life happened around him and he had nothing to do with it. I feel that with several marriages, drug abuse, mob connections (that are really downplayed until the last chapters), a variety of band members, there may have been some depths of feelings i.e fear, love, guilt, ambition etc. You only get a hint of these emotions in this book. Why write a “memoir” if not to impart some wisdom learned or some incredible life events?...unless it’s to make a few bucks...and that is my take on this book....a piece of fluff to make some money.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Good breezy read! Will be most interesting to people like me who grew up with Tommy’s music, but for anyone it provides a nice look into the seamy side of the music business. I had no idea how dominant he actually was during his peak years of 67-70, and of course how much money Morris Levy apparently stole from him. If you have an interest in organized crime history you’ll like that aspect of the book too. What I found amusing was how this midwestern kid ended up amidst so many East Coast Jewish Good breezy read! Will be most interesting to people like me who grew up with Tommy’s music, but for anyone it provides a nice look into the seamy side of the music business. I had no idea how dominant he actually was during his peak years of 67-70, and of course how much money Morris Levy apparently stole from him. If you have an interest in organized crime history you’ll like that aspect of the book too. What I found amusing was how this midwestern kid ended up amidst so many East Coast Jewish guys — attorneys, agents, accountants, music men, etc. You could put together a couple of minyans with the guys Tommy dealt with.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I've always liked his music and heard an interview with him that sounded interesting. On one hand this guy rode the normal rock star trajectory, but when he signed to a mob-run label things got interesting. Kudos for being openly confessional even when it's not all flattering (women, drugs). As much as he admitted to mingling with mobsters, I wonder if anything got omitted. Real easy read and written well enough to stay interesting. He's still out there rocking and I'd love to catch h I've always liked his music and heard an interview with him that sounded interesting. On one hand this guy rode the normal rock star trajectory, but when he signed to a mob-run label things got interesting. Kudos for being openly confessional even when it's not all flattering (women, drugs). As much as he admitted to mingling with mobsters, I wonder if anything got omitted. Real easy read and written well enough to stay interesting. He's still out there rocking and I'd love to catch him. Fun fact: not only did he not write "Hanky Panky", but nobody's really sure who did.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bill Poston

    Crystal Blue Persuasion has always been one of my favorite songs. I remember the Roulette 45 spinning in the turntable but I didn't know the story behind James, the Shondells and Moe Levys record label. James tells a good story about making it in the music business, and the pressure to stay relevant that came with the business but more so from his label with its mob connections. The book will help you think about Hanky Lanky in a different way.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Greg Fanoe

    I pretty much never read autobiographies, and especially not celeb tell-all style biographies but I had heard this one was pretty fun and it was! Tommy James had a pretty interesting career filled with accidents and coincidences that worked out, and Morris Levy (the mob associate who ran Roulette Records) sounds like an interesting guy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Bunch

    I enjoyed this autobiography . It was written in an easy, quick, read style. Learn how the mob controlled the record industry. Morris Levy runs the music business with his mob partners. Moris owned Birdland- the top jazz club in the world. If you enjoy Tommy james or want to lrsearn about the music industry-this one is for you.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eugene

    In this book Tommy James - the Hanky Panky, Crimson and Clover pop star - tells he world about his life, but even more interestingly about the scary underbelly of the music business and his association with Morris Levy, the so-called Godfather of the record business and Roulette Records. Eye-opening.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hoff

    What I really enjoyed about this book is that Tommy James is a rock artist you really don't think about much or, perhaps, even dismiss as an "oldies" act. What this book helped me understand is that his contributions are much more to music than you think. What an interesting life, complete with all the foibles of being a rock star...and some you have to read to believe!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Todd Stadtman

    Everybody wants to know the story behind SGT. PEPPER, but who will tell you the story behind "I Think We're Alone Now"?-- which may very well be the more interesting one. Tommy James has made a solid contribution to filling out the margins of pop music history. A more thrilling read than your typical music autobiography and a compelling read, as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    PSXtreme

    An exceptional and informative read. Gives the reader an On-the-Level view of his life without all the over-inflation that most memoirs contain. The book just flows by and suddenly you realize you're at the end. DEFINITELY an inside look at the music industry. Highly Recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stew

    A very sad affair Tommy James apparently had a true love/hate relationship with the mobsters who stole his money. Maybe he was smart to keep his mouth shut for so many years, but I don't think he did himself or his legacy any favors with that approach. But at league survived it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ferrari

    A interesting autobiography that delves into the mob's hand in the music business as well as Tommy's career. His rise to the top started in Pittsburgh, so hailing from southwestern Pennsylvania, I grew up listening to his music. I saw him perform a couple years ago and the man can still sing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joe Kelly

    The story of Tommy James' come up in the music industry was a really interesting read. All the mob ties and sketchy business provide a revealing lens through with to view that industry.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cecil Munsey III Trustee

    Great Story 5 star rating because it was a good read. Very informative and interesting. Tommy James did experience the power of God to heal and to save.

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