It seems somewhat strange that a band of the high profile of Tommy James and the Shondells should be outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame given the sort of acts from that period (Laura Nyro being the most glaring example, but also Donovan and others like that) who have been inducted. In many ways, though, the success and influence of the band has been undersold. Tommy James and Shondells exists, like a few other groups which have not been inducted, along the borders of psychedelic music  and bubblegum pop . It is quite possible, though, that many people have simply not well understood the importance of Tommy James as a songwriter as well as a performer and the songs that have endured to this day as essential parts of the “classic rock” canon. In order to make the case for Tommy James and the Shondells, it will also be necessary to show the diverse and complicated legacy of his band and their music.
The Influence Of Tommy James And The Shondells
The influence of Tommy James And The Shondells exists largely in two ways. One way is in the band’s adoption of electronic music such as phasers and vocoders, which was like the Moody Blues in being an early adopter of synthesizers as an part of psychedelic music . The second way is more straightforward, and that is their music. Three of the band’s own top ten hits became top ten hits (two became #1 hits back to back on the Billboard Hot 100), namely “Crimson And Clover” by Joan Jett, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” by Tiffany, and “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol. The fact that these artists range from solid rock & roll artists worth considering for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction themselves (especially Idol) to a teen pop princess suggest that the band itself straddled some pretty stark lines. Still, the fact that their influence could remain through songs that are still played from the 1960’s as well as from the 1980’s remakes. Such an influence that is enduring as well as massive ought to ensure a Hall of Fame induction for Tommy James and his late 60’s version of the Shondells.
Why Tommy James And The Shondells Should Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
There are a few reasons why Tommy James and the Shondells should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Chief among them is the fact that the band and its music has remained enduringly popular not only in its original versions, but also in remakes. Not only that, but even after the Shondells broke up for the third time, Tommy James had success writing for other bands, and even had a big solo hit of his own with “Draggin’ The Line,” which occasionally pops up on soundtracks to this day . Even without considering this work for other artists, which makes the case for the band even better, the band on its own had enough success between 1966’s release of the #1 hit “Hanky Panky” to merit induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with two #1 hits (the other one was “Crimson And Clover”) along with several other top 10 hits (“I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mirage,” “Mony Mony,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion”) along with several other top 40 hits (at least seven of them). Career success like that, even in a short time, with a lasting reputation and songs that are continually remade by other artists would appear to be an obvious sign that one’s career had a massive influence on other artists.
Why Aren’t Tommy James And The Shondells In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?
It’s a mystery to me. There are certainly bands and artists that are more mystifying omissions than Tommy James and the Shondells , but the fact that they were popular in the 1960’s, were invited to Woodstock because of their influence on psychedelic music, and the fact that their music is still well known and well-played to this day both in original and cover versions suggests a worth that is at the upper level of their peers. Their forays into bubblegum music as well as their short career shouldn’t be held against them, a career that was shortened, lamentably, by Tommy James’ drug use (he was pronounced dead in 1970 before being revived). It would seem rather hypocritical of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to punish someone because their career was shortened from drug use, because there would be precious few rock & roll bands and artists who could claim to be immune from such problems.
Verdict: Put them in. How they have made it this long without induction is still a bit of a mystery.
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 See, for example: