Me, The Mob, and the Music
One Helluva of a Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells
By Tommy James with Martin Fitzpatrick
225 pp, Scribner
Tommy James', Me, the Mob and the Music isn’t quite a tell-all, which may come as a relief to afficianados of 60's pop/rock. Despite the title, you shouldn't expect any sketches of the inner-workings of the Genovese crime family or lurid details about what James may have witnessed or overheard—it’s mostly an occasionally troubling story about Tommy the barely post-pubescent babe in the woods’ dealings with the so-called Godfather of the music business, that Bully of Broadway (or thereabouts) Morris “Moish” Levy.
For almost a decade James was a veritable hit-making machine for Levy’s Roulette Records, really the only winner in the Roulette stable. As the tape unwinds though, James emerges as the hardest working serf on Levy’s manor, locked in a bizarre mentor/tormentor relationship with Moish that drives him to heavy drinking, pill-popping, a penchant for guns and therapy.
Despite my day-to-day guise as a verile, pugnacious, veritable man-of-the-people Union leader, you don’t have to slip slide yer footwear into one of my dark alley hideaways in order to discover my not-so-secret lifetime vocation as a certifiable Doctor of Igology, as a perpetual pupil forever steeped in The Ways of the Stooge, as a knee-bending pulpiteer awash in the dirty but divine light of The Bleeding Church of Raw Power.