As a musician, the business will either make you or break you. Either way, they will try to screw you. That was one part of the curriculum for Tommy James when he learned how the succubus known as the music business functioned. The rock ‘n’ roll veteran dialed into the CBS-FM Star Phone this morning to talk with Scott Shannon about the lessons learned while growing up as a young musician, which is also detailed in his book: Me, The Mob, And The Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells.
“I got this amazing education in the record business that I couldn’t have gotten any other way,” says James, who began learning about the industry and how it functions in high school. “First with working in the record store where I could promote my band at the same time. I learned all the labels, and I learned the publishers… the trade papers, and so forth.”
And how did he pay for this education? By getting the typical music label screw job.
“That was the price for the education,” says James who, along with the Shondells, has sold over 100 million records. “In the end, I get to tell the story. So what goes around, comes around.”
“It ended being a book about the entire affair,” he adds “It’s all true, unfortunately.”
James’ book will be adapted for the big screen, produced by Barbara De Fina (GoodFellas, Casino, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Grifters) and is expected to hit theaters sometime in the next 18 months.
James will also be performing Bergen PAC in Englewood on May 17th and the NYCB Theater at Westbury on November 22nd. Tickets are available at tommyjames.com.
Listen to Scott Shannon’s full interview with Tommy James below.