Tommy James and the Shondells are an American rock and roll group whose period of greatest success came in the late 1960s. They had two No. 1 singles in the U.S. — “Hanky Panky” (1966) and “Crimson and Clover” (1969) — and also charted 12 other Top 40 hits, including five in the top ten: “I Think We’re Alone Now“, “Mony Mony“, “Crystal Blue Persuasion“, “Mirage“, and “Sweet Cherry Wine“.
The band formed in 1959 in Niles, Michigan, first as the Echoes, then under the name Tom and the Tornadoes, with Tommy James, then only 12, as lead singer. In 1964 James re-named the band The Shondells because the name “sounded good.” At this time, the Shondells were composed of Tommy James (vocals and guitar), Larry Coverdale (lead guitar), Larry Wright (bass), Craig Villeneuve (keyboards) and Jim Payne (drums). Later that year, the band recorded the Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song “Hanky Panky” (originally a B-side by The Raindrops). Released by a local label, Snap Records, James’s version sold respectably in the South Bend, Indiana, market of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, but Snap Records had no national distribution. Although the band toured the eastern mid-west, no other market took to the song. The single failed to chart nationally, and The Shondells disbanded in 1965 after graduating from high school.