Tommy Sands (American singer)

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Tommy Sands
Tommy Sands 1957.JPG
Tommy Sands in 1957
Background information
Birth nameThomas Adrian Sands
Born (1937-08-27) August 27, 1937 (age 83)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Country, Countrypolitan, Rockabilly, pop music
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1949–present
Labels RCA, Capitol, Buena Vista, Vista, ABC, Liberty, Imperial, Superscope

Thomas Adrian Sands (born August 27, 1937) [1] is an American pop music singer and actor. Working in show business as a child, Sands became an overnight sensation and instant teen idol when he appeared on Kraft Television Theater in January 1957 as "The Singin' Idol". The song from the show, "Teen-Age Crush", reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on Cashbox. [2]


Early life

Sands was born into a musical family in Chicago, Illinois; his father, Ben, was a pianist, and his mother, Grace, a big-band singer. [1] [3] He moved with the family to Shreveport, Louisiana. He began playing the guitar at eight and within a year had a job performing twice weekly on a local radio station. At the beginning of his teen years, he moved to Houston, Texas, where he attended Lamar High School and joined a band with "Jimmie Lee Durden and the Junior Cowboys", consisting of Sands, Durden, and Billy Reno. They performed on radio, at county fairs, and did personal appearances. [1] He was only 15 when Colonel Tom Parker heard about him and signed him to RCA Records.


The Singin' Idol

Sands's initial recordings achieved little in the way of sales but in early 1957 he was given the opportunity to star in an episode of Kraft Television Theatre called "The Singing Idol". He played the part of a singer who was very similar to Elvis Presley, with guitar, pompadour hair, and excitable teenage fans.

On the show, his song presentation of a Joe Allison composition called "Teen-Age Crush" went over big with the young audience and, released as a single by Capitol Records, it went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart and No. 1 on the Cashbox chart. [1] It became a gold record.

His track, "The Old Oaken Bucket", peaked at No. 25 on the UK Singles Chart in 1960. [4]

He released his debut album Steady Date with Tommy Sands (1957).

Sands' sudden fame brought an offer to sing at the Academy Awards show. He did another episode of Kraft Television Theatre, "Flesh and Blood" (1957) playing the son of a gangster. He also made "The Promise" for Zane Grey Theatre (1957) playing the son of Gary Merrill.

20th Century Fox

Sands' teen idol looks landed him a motion-picture contract with 20th Century Fox to star in a 1958 musical drama called Sing, Boy, Sing , the feature film version of "The Singin' Idol". Fox had enjoyed success with films starring other teen idols such as Elvis Presley and Pat Boone but Sing, Boy, Sing was a financial failure.

Sands appeared on CBS Television on January 9, 1958 in an episode of Shower of Stars , and played another singing star in "The Left-handed Welcome" for Studio One in Hollywood (1958).

Sands supported Pat Boone in a musical for Fox, Mardi Gras (1958), which was a moderate hit. He also released the albums Sands Storm (1958), This Thing Called Love (1959), and When I'm Thinking of You (1959).

Sands appeared in the 1960 episode of Wagon Train titled "The Larry Hanify Story, and also a later Wagon Train' episode in 1963, "The Gus Morgan Story." His later albums included Sands at the Sands (1960) and Dream with Me (1960). From May to November 1960, he served in the United States Air Force Reserves. [5]

Later films

Sands' second lead role in a feature was in the teen comedy Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) with Fabian Forte, which was not a success. More popular was a fantasy musical he made at Disney, Babes in Toyland (1961), co-starring with Annette Funicello. That year he and Funicello sang the Sherman Brothers' title song from the Walt Disney release of The Parent Trap .

Sands guested starred on "The Inner Panic" for The United States Steel Hour and was one of several pop stars who played US Rangers in Fox's The Longest Day (1962).

Sands had married Nancy Sinatra whose father Frank offered Sands a role in Come Blow Your Horn but he turned it down. Sands studied acting in New York. [6]

Sands appeared alongside Fred Astaire in "Blow High, Blow Clear" for Alcoa Theatre (1963). On May 14, 1963, Sands appeared, along with Claude Akins and Jim Davis, in "Trapped", one of the last episodes of NBC's Laramie western series. [7] In the story line, series character Slim Sherman (John Smith) finds an injured kidnap victim in the woods, portrayed by Joan Freeman. Dennis Holmes, as series regular Mike Williams, rides away to seek help, but the kidnappers reclaim the hostage. Slim pursues the kidnappers but is mistaken as a third kidnapper by the girl's father, played by Barton MacLane. Sands plays the girl's boyfriend, who had been ordered by her father to stop seeing her. [8]

Later in 1963, Sands made several appearances on Wagon Train including "The Davey Baxter Story", "The Gus Morgan Story" (with Peter Falk), and "The Bob Stuart Story". [9]

Sands had a support role in the feature film Ensign Pulver (1964) at Warners. He guest starred on Slattery's People ("Question: Why the Lonely?... Why the Misbegotten?") and had a support role in the war feature None But the Brave (1965), starring and directed by Frank Sinatra.

Sands guest starred on Kraft Suspense Theatre ("A Lion Amongst Men", which earned him good reviews [10] ), Combat! ("More Than a Soldier"), Valentine's Day ("For Me and My Sal"), Mr Novak ("Let's Dig a Little Grammar", "And Then I Wrote..."), Branded ("That the Brave Endure"), Bonanza ("The Debt"), and Hawaii Five-O ("No Blue Skies").

Career decline

Sands divorced Nancy Sinatra in 1965. "The doors to Hollywood seemed to slam shut after the divorce from Nancy", he said. "I couldn't get acting roles, my singing career on TV and in films was over." [11]

His last feature to date was The Violent Ones (1967) in which Sands had a supporting role. He moved to Hawaii in 1967. [ citation needed ]


In Hawaii, Sands operated the Tommy Sands Nightclub Tour for five years, opened the Outrigger Main Showroom and ran a clothing distributorship. He married a second time and became a father.

Sands' later appearances include more episodes of Hawaii Five-O ("Hit Gun for Sale", "A Sentence to Steal"), and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ("Mystery on the Avalanche Express"). He occasionally returned to the mainland to work, appearing in dinner theatre.

Sands returned permanently to the mainland of the US in 1981, settling in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He toured regularly performing concerts. [11]

Personal life

Nancy Sinatra and Tommy Sands, 1962 Nancy Sinatra and Tommy Sanda Stump the Stars 1962.jpg
Nancy Sinatra and Tommy Sands, 1962

Tommy Sands and singer Nancy Sinatra married in 1960 and divorced in 1965. [12] His career had declined significantly by 1965, triggering speculation that Frank Sinatra had him "blacklisted" in the entertainment industry after their divorce. [13] Such reports were denied by both Sands and Sinatra. [14] In 1974, Sands married Sheila Wallace, a secretary, in Honolulu, where he had relocated in an attempt to revive his career. [15] He continues to make occasional public singing appearances.



1958 Sing, Boy, Sing Virgil Walker
1958 Mardi Gras Barry Denton
1961 Love in a Goldfish Bowl Gordon Slide
1961 Babes in Toyland Tom Piper
1962 The Longest Day U.S. Army Ranger
1964 Ensign Pulver John X. Bruno
1965 None but the Brave 2nd Lt. Blair
1967 The Violent Ones Mike Marain


“That the Brave Endure”, “Branded” Bain

Year Title Role
1957 The Singin' Idol as himself
1957 "The Promise", Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre Jace Rawlins
1957 The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford [16] as himself
1960 "The Larry Hanify Story, Wagon Train [17] Larry Hanify
1963 "The Gus Morgan Story", Wagon TrainEthan Morgan
1963 "Trapped", Laramie Tad Henderson
1964 Slattery's People Jed Haskell
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Eddie Riccio
1965 "The Debt", Bonanza Wiley Kane
1965 Combat! Private Jim Carey
1968 Hawaii Five-O Joey Rand
1975 "Hit Gun For Sale" Hawaii Five-0 Joey Cordell


US singles discography

U.S. LP discography

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