Billy Idol Sneers at Tommy James on ‘Mony Mony’ – Cover Clash
Back in the mid-1960’s, Tommy James and his group the Shondells could do no wrong. They were topping the chart with hit after monstrous hit and rivaling the Beatles for chart supremacy.
Tommy’s “Mony Mony” was a favorite request to radio stations all over the country by excited teens. Even mom and dad couldn’t help but tap their toes to it’s infectious beat! If they had only known the sinister history behind this “bubblegum” pop record, they may have plugged their kids ears and banned the Shondells for eternity.
According to SongFacts.com:
Amphetamines and the Mafia played a surprising role in this classic. Roulette Records was run by The Mob, as James explains in our interview. As for the drugs, Kenny Laguna, a producer who played keyboards and sang with The Shondells, told us: “We used to do a lot of amphetamines, they were very popular with people trying to succeed, so we’d spend all day and night ‘up’ making records, and not worrying about getting paid. It was perfect for the record companies, who would supply us with amphetamines.” James added: “The record company didn’t have anything to do with that. That was probably us. That was our decision, that wasn’t their decision.”
But, what about the name of the song. How did they come up with it and why?
Tommy told SongFacts:
“We had most of the words to the song, but we still had no title. And it’s just driving us nuts, because we’re looking for like a ‘Sloopy’ or some crazy name – it had to be a two-syllable girl’s name that was memorable and silly and kind of stupid sounding. So we knew what kind of a word we had, it’s just that everything we came up with sounded so bad. So Ritchie Cordell, my songwriting partner and I, are up in my apartment up at 888 Eighth Avenue in New York. And finally we get disgusted, we throw our guitars down, we go out on the terrace, we light up a cigarette, and we look up into the sky. And the first thing our eyes fall on is the Mutual of New York Insurance Company. M-O-N-Y. True story. With a dollar sign in the middle of the O, and it gave you the time and the temperature. I had looked at this thing for years, and it was sitting there looking me right in the face. We saw this at the same time, and we both just started laughing. We said, ‘That’s perfect! What could be more perfect than that?’ Mony, M-O-N-Y, Mutual of New York. And so we must have laughed for about ten minutes, and that became the title of the song.”
Tommy James & the Shondells with the original 1968 version:
Billy’s 1987 version:
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