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Widely perceived as one of the archetypal bubblegum artists of the late '60s, Tommy Roe cut some pretty decent rockers along the way, especially early in his career -- many displaying some pretty prominent Buddy Holly roots. In fact, Roe's initial pop smash, 1962's chart-topping "Sheila," was quite reminiscent of Holly's "Peggy Sue," utilizing a very similar throbbing drumbeat and Roe's hiccuping vocal. The singer had previously cut the song for the smaller Judd label before remaking it in superior form for ABC-Paramount. The infectious "Everybody" -- another hot item the next year -- was waxed in Muscle Shoals at Rick Hall's Fame studios, normally an R&B-oriented facility (it's not widely known that Roe wrote songs for the Tams, a raw-edged soul group from his Atlanta hometown). Once Roe veered off on his squeaky-clean bubblegum tangent, he stuck with it for the rest of the decade. His lighthearted "Sweet Pea" and "Hooray for Hazel" burned up the charts in 1966, and he was still at it three years later when he waxed his biggest hit, "Dizzy," and "Jam Up Jelly Tight."
Thomas David "Tommy" Roe (born May 9, 1942, Atlanta, Georgia) is an American pop music singer-songwriter.
Best-remembered for his hits "Sheila" (1962) and "Dizzy" (1969), Roe was "widely perceived as one of the archetypal bubblegum artists of the late 1960s, but Roe cut some pretty decent rockers along the way, especially early in his career", wrote the Allmusic journalist Bill Dahl.
Roe was raised in Atlanta where he attended Brown High School. After graduating, he landed a job at General Electric soldering wires.
He had a Billboard number 1 hit in the U.S. and Australia in 1962 with the track "Sheila". A build up of global sales of "Sheila" meant that the R.I.A.A. did not present the gold record until 1969. When "Sheila" became a hit, ABC-Paramount Records asked him to go on tour to promote the hit. He was reluctant to give up his secure job at GE until ABC-Paramount advanced him $5,000.
However in March 1963, the UK music magazine NME reported that he and Chris Montez had both been upstaged by The Beatles and their fans on a 21-day UK tour. Late that year Roe scored a Top 10 hit with "Everybody", which reached US number 3 and UK number 9, and "The Folk Singer" (number 4 UK) written by Merle Kilgore was also popular.
Following a more successful tour of the United Kingdom by his friend Roy Orbison, Roe toured there and then moved to England where he lived for several years. In 1964 Roe recorded a song written by Buzz Cason entitled, "Diane From Manchester Square." It was a story in song about a girl called Diane, who worked in an upstairs office at EMI House, when it was based in London's Manchester Square. Sales of this single in the UK were poor, and it failed to chart. In 1965, Roe teamed up with Jerry Lee Lewis and Orbison to create an album for the Pickwick International label. During the 1960s, he had several more Top 40 hits, including 1966's number 8 "Sweet Pea " (number 1 Canada) and number 6 "Hooray for Hazel" (number 2 Canada). In 1969, his song "Dizzy" went to number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, number 1 in Canada, as well as number 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. This transatlantic chart-topper sold two million copies by mid-April 1969, giving him his third gold disc award.
In 1969, Roe guest starred in an episode of the American sitcom, Green Acres, called "The Four of Spades".
His final Top 10 single, a track co-written with Freddy Weller, "Jam Up and Jelly Tight", was his fourth gold record, peaking at number 8 in the U.S. and number 5 in Canada.
A resident of Beverly Hills, California, he is married to Josette Banzet, an actress from France who won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Award for her performance in the 1976 television mini-series, Rich Man, Poor Man.
In 1986, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Although his style of music declined in popularity with the 1970s mass market, he maintained a following and continued to perform at a variety of concert venues, sometimes with 1960s nostalgia rock and rollers such as Freddy Cannon and Bobby Vee.