Borders hosted Tommy James (who is not Tommy (Lee) Jones, who doesn’t play Jazz, and whose last name is not actually James) this weekend. Working up to the signing, I didn’t know much about Mr. James. In fact, I couldn’t get his name right. I told customers he was Tommy Jones. No one corrected me. Another customer told me he was a Jazz musician, and I believed him and started spreading that rumor as well. A fellow employee (and Tommy James fan) berated me. “You don’t know who Tommy James is??” She was incredulous. “The Shondells?” I shrugged my shoulders. It was only when his agent came in with a copy of a CD for our store to play that I realized who exactly I was dealing with. If you need a refresher like I did, please follow this link and enjoy.
Before signing his co-authored book, Tommy and Martin Fitzpatrick explained the roller coaster that was his career. Originally from Michigan, Tommy recorded a few songs with the Shondells only for their music to surface two years later in Pittsburgh. The book chronicles his rise to stardom and his relationship with Morris Levy, “the godfather of the music business”. Tommy James and Martin Fitzpatrick were very animated about the story that they were finally able to put on paper, and happy to stay and answer questions both about the book and Tommy James himself. Some tidbits I learned: his last name is actually Jackson, Crimson and Clover was their big personal and literal hit, Tommy James is very religious, and he’s playing at Westbury Music Fair in October 2010. To learn more, click a pic!
As I said in my Jay Mohr post, it’s hard to know what’s ok and what’s not ok when you go to shoot photos at an event like this. I figured since there was a discussion beforehand, I could take as many photos as I liked and just pick and choose later. However, my camera was a little loud for our small group. I should have brought my f/2.8 lens. Despite the signing being in the middle of the day, it was still a little too dark for anything less than ISO 800 and a shutter speed of 60. The great news is I was able to take a name and e-mail from the agent that brought Tommy, so I can see if they can use the photos I took! I’ll keep you posted on that!
UPDATE: The photos are going to be put into a book that Tommy James has of all the signings he’s gone to. Still pretty sweet 🙂