James has seen the industry progress through numerous technologies and eras. “I see the music business from a historical perspective more than anything else,” he said. “Studio equipment, for example, has changed so drastically that, I don’t think it would even be recognized by people in the ‘60s as recording equipment.”
“The technology on the stage has drastically improved, too,” he added. “There are so many more things we can do onstage now. Radio has drastically altered, too; it’s all done on the internet now.”
Long-play albums and 45s were the order of the day when James started out. Those were mostly phased beginning in the ‘80s by CDs, which are themselves becoming obsolete with the explosion of internet downloading. “The record business is being replaced by the internet,” James said.
Tommy James and the Shondells have maintained an exhaustive tour and recording schedule throughout their career, too, taking a break only twice since first signing with Roulette in 1966.
And despite all the upheaval in the business over the years, for James, one thing has remained constant. “The music and excitement at concerts hasn’t changed,” he said. “Concert crowds generally don’t change.”
At least one thing about the crowds HAS changed over the years, though – over the decades. “I look out over our crowds now,” James said, “and I see, literally, three generations of fans.”
The sheer number of artists who have done cover versions of James’ music attests to his band’s cross-generational appeal. According to James, there have been more than 300 cover versions of his songs, with a diverse range of musicians offering unique interpretations of his playbook, including Billy Idol, Tiffany, R.E.M., Prince, Dolly Parton, Tom Jones, Cher, the Boston Pops and many others.
Doubtless, come 8:55 p.m., Saturday, at Mill Race Park, Columbus, there will be numerous others offering up their own cover versions as they groove and sing along to the nearly fifty-year soundtrack of Tommy James and the Shondells.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011