Tommy Sands Biography

27 August 1937, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Tommy Sands’ father was a pianist, and his mother was Grace Lou Dixon, a singer with the Art Keassel Band. He sang in a local folk music television series, Lady Of The Mountain, when he was only five years old, and made his first recording, ‘Love Pains’, on Freedom in 1949, when aged only 12. In 1952, with help from his new manager, Colonel Tom Parker, he joined RCA Records as a country artist. In the early and mid-50s Sands played many country shows including some with Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. His big break came when he secured the role of a rock ‘n’ roll star in NBC’s The Singing Idol, a part that was originally offered to Elvis Presley. The show was a smash hit, and its main song, ‘Teen-Age Crush’, attracted over half a million advance orders and shot to number 2 in the US charts. The television show was snapped up by Hollywood and was adapted to become Sands’ first film, Sing, Boy, Sing (1958). The first of his five albums on Capitol Records, Steady Date With Tommy Sands, and Sing Boy Sing both made the US Top 20, and he was tipped by some as likely to replace Presley. However, of his other eight singles that charted, only ‘Goin’ Steady’ made the US Top 40 in 1957. That same year in the UK he was the subject of BBC Television’s This Is Your Life. He made a string of films including Mardi Gras with Pat Boone, Love In A Goldfish Bowl with Fabian, Babes In Toyland with Annette, the star-studded The Longest Day, and None But The Brave with his father-in-law Frank Sinatra (he was married to Nancy Sinatra from 1960-65). Together with his group the Raiders (aka the Sharks), which included the future top session drummer Hal Blaine, he later recorded on ABC Records, Paramount, Imperial Records and Liberty Records without further chart success. In the late 60s he moved to Hawaii and opened a club. He tried to make a comeback between 1974 and 1979, and again in 1987. He played his first UK dates in 1990.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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