Hanky Panky by Tommy James and The Shondells

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Hanky Panky by Tommy James and The Shondells

Hanky Panky Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James recalls, “One night I was playing for 20 drunks in a bar in Michigan, and the next night I’m playing for 10,000 screaming fans in Pittsburgh. It was literally overnight. It was very unexpected, one of those winning-the-lottery type stories.”

Tommy James & the Shondells formed in 1959 as Tom and the Tornadoes, with the then 12-year-old Tommy as lead singer. In 1963 he renamed his band The Shondells, after his favorite guitarist Troy Shondell.

Meanwhile, world-class hit songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich were recording a group called The Raindrops and realized they had forgotten to write a B-side for the single “That Boy John.” They sat down in the studio and within 20 minutes came up with “Hanky Panky.” It was released as a B-Side to an unsuccessful record and consigned to obscurity, except….

Sixties garage rock bands throughout the country discovered the song. It had a hot beat, was easy to understand, and (best of all) had only a few chords. And one night Tommy James heard it played in an Indiana club. He decided to record it with The Shondells. James recalls “I really only remembered a few lines from the song, so when we went to record it, I had to make up the rest of the song.” So the record was made and, lacking distribution, was consigned to obscurity, except…

In 1965 Pittsburgh disc jockey “Mad Mike” discovered the record in a pile of old singles and began playing it on the radio. The switchboard lit up, and “Hanky Panky” was a smash hit in Pittsburgh. James decided to re-release the song and traveled to Pittsburgh where he hired a local band, The Raconteurs, to be the new Shondells.

After appearances on TV and in clubs in the city, James took a master of “Hanky Panky” to New York, where he sold it to Roulette Records. “The amazing thing is we did not re-record the song,” recalls James, “I don’t think anybody can record a song that bad and make it sound good. It had to sound amateurish like that.” It was released and quickly went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in July 1966.

Tommy James has written a book called Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells in which he describes various types of record business “hanky panky.”

Here are the lyrics (such as they are) for “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and The Shondells:

“My baby does the hanky panky
Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
Hey, my baby does the hanky panky.

My baby does the hanky panky (yeah)
Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky
Hey, my baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky.

I saw her walking on down the line (yeah)
You know I saw her for the very first time
A pretty little girl standing all alone
Hey baby, baby, can I take you home?
I never saw her, never really saw her (oh, yeah).

My baby does the hanky panky
Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky.

Ah, let’s move it out.
Let’s go!
Oh, yeah!

I saw her walking on down the line (yeah)
You know I saw her for the very first time.
A pretty little girl standing all alone
Hey baby, baby, can I take you home?
I never saw her, never really saw her.

Okay, we’re low on time, hold on.

Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky
Hey, my baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky pankyMy baby does the hanky panky.

Let’s knock em dead one time, let’s go.

Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
Yeah, my baby does the hanky panky.”

(Poetry!)

For other songs by Tommy James and the Shondells: “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Mony Mony.”

Check Out The Groove Pad for More 1960s Music

The Pass the Paisley Groove Pad is a resting stop, a place to┬áchill out and listen to the featured song on the┬ástereo. If the mood strikes you, click on the juke box to access and listen to the 50+ free online songs there. The TV has several channels, with selections updated twice a week. Every now and then, Pass the Paisley hosts an all-request of 1960s and 1970s songs for a Be-In at the juke box in the Groove Pad. Keep on truckin’. Hope you enjoyed “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells.

 

4 Comments

  1. […] If you are interested in reading about and listening to another song by Tommy James and the Shondells, please click here for “Hanky Panky.” […]

  2. […] click here for “Hanky Panky,” if you are interested in reading about and listening to another song by Tommy James and The […]

  3. […] other songs by Tommy James and The Shondells: “Hanky Panky,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Mony […]

  4. […] by Tommy James and The Shondells, please click here for “Crimson and Clover,” “Hanky Panky,” and “Mony […]

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