Tommy West (producer)

Last updated
Tommy West
Birth nameThomas Picardo Jr.
Born(1942-08-17)August 17, 1942
Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
DiedMay 2, 2021(2021-05-02) (aged 78)
Genres Popular music
Occupation(s)Producer, singer-songwriter
Instruments keyboards, piano, guitar, vocals
Years active1968–2021
Associated actsCashman & West
The Buchanan Brothers

Thomas Picardo Jr. (August 17, 1942 – May 2, 2021), known professionally as Tommy West, was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. [1]


Early career

Thomas Picardo Jr. was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. [2]

West's career as a performing artist began in 1958 when he co-founded the doo-wop group The Criterions with Tim Hauser, a classmate of his at St. Rose High School in Belmar, New Jersey. [3] In 1959, the group hit the pop charts with "I Remain Truly Yours".

West is a 1963 graduate of Villanova University. While attending Villanova, he became student conductor of the school's glee club, The Villanova Singers. West formed a sub-group of the Singers called The Villanova Spires, a 12-man group who performed folk songs with guitar accompaniment. Tim Hauser, also now a student at Villanova, joined the group. In 1961, West auditioned fellow student Jim Croce for The Spires and an enduring friendship was formed.

After graduating in 1963, West became a radio announcer and music director of WRLB (FM) in Long Branch, New Jersey. In 1966, he left the station and began work for ABC Records in New York, where he met Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli, songwriters at the company. This trio, Cashman, Pistilli and West, began a writing and performing collaboration. In 1967, they recorded an album titled Bound To Happen.

West became a session singer and sang back-up vocals on albums by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Sammy Davis, Jr., Connie Francis, and Mitch Ryder. He was a jingle singer for radio and television commercials.

Capitol Records

In 1968, Cashman, Pistilli and West signed with Capitol Records and recorded an album titled Cashman, Pistilli & West, produced by Nik Venet. Simultaneously, they recorded under the pseudonym Buchanan Brothers. This trio is remembered for the single "Medicine Man". Also that year, they formed the publishing companies Interrobang Productions, Blendingwell Music, and Sister John Music. They signed folk duo Jim and Ingrid Croce and secured a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1969, turning production duties over to Nik Venet for their album Jim & Ingrid Croce . The album was released, but was not well received.

In 1969, Cashman, Pistilli and West were introduced to a talented young musician, Maury Muehleisen. Soon after they signed Muehleisen, Pistilli left the partnership and became a founding member of The Manhattan Transfer, joining up with West's lifelong hometown friend Tim Hauser and West's then wife, Pat Rosalia. [4]

Cashman and West produced Muehleisen's album Gingerbreadd, released by Capitol Records in November 1970. This critically well received album brought together Muehleisen and Jim Croce, who for a short time accompanied Maury on guitar for live performances.

Cashman and West began an association with producer Wes Farrell and composed eight songs that were recorded by The Partridge Family: "She'd Rather Have The Rain", "Only A Moment Ago", "Every Song Is You", "One Day At A Time", "Come On Love", "Sunshine Eyes", "It Sounds Like You're Saying Hello", and "It's Time That I Knew You Better".

Success with Jim Croce

In 1971, Cashman and West signed as artists with ABC-Dunhill and produced the first of three Jim Croce albums, You Don't Mess Around With Jim . Recorded in the fall of 1971 and released in April 1972, this album produced three hit singles. Simultaneously, Cashman and West were on the charts with their first single, their tribute to New York City, the "American City Suite".

In 1973, Cashman and West produced Croce's Life and Times and I Got a Name albums. [2] They received five gold records for their work on Jim Croce's hits - No. 1 singles "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle", and three albums (You Don't Mess Around With Jim, Life and Times, and I Got A Name), and all three now have reached platinum status. Croce and Muehleisen perished in a small plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana on September 20, 1973.

Cashman and West went on to record two more albums for ABC-Dunhill, Moondog Serenade and Lifesong.

Tommy West recorded the solo single "I Know" which reached No. 114 in Record World and No. 30 in Billboard's "Easy Listening" Top 50, early 1977. The song was a remake of a 1960 tune by the Spaniels.

Career as a producer

In 1974, Cashman and West produced records by Jim Dawson and Mary Travers. In 1975, they formed Lifesong Records and recorded singer-songwriter Henry Gross, who in 1976 had a million-selling single "Shannon". West also recorded Hometown Frolics, his solo album. In 1978, Cashman and West produced Dion's "The Return of the Wanderer". West began recording in Nashville in 1978, producing an album by Gail Davies and beginning a five-album collaboration with Ed Bruce.

In 1984, West entered into a partnership with Mary Tyler Moore's MTM Records, based in Nashville. [2] Production credits during this time include recordings by Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, and Girls Next Door and The Metros from Minneapolis. West produced two No. 1 country singles - "You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had" with Ed Bruce (MCA Nashville) and "Until I Met You" with Judy Rodman (one of two number ones on MTM Records).

In 1992, Tommy West launched High Harmony Records. Its initial release, Through The Raindrops, by harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio, remained on the Billboard New Age chart for nine months. The album made the Top Twenty New Age year-end chart in Billboard and launched Bonfiglio's success on the QVC Network, where his appearances generated over 200,000 units. In 1993, West teamed up with Anne Murray and produced Croonin' , a collection of classic pre-rock songs of the fifties. The album achieved double platinum status in Canada and had a substantial run on the American charts as well. Croonin' received a Juno Award as best engineered pop recording of 1993. In 1994, West produced Kindred Spirits with New Age pianist Andy Wasserman. In 1996, West produced Always On My Mind, a collection of pop standards with Robert Bonfiglio for Time-Life Records. In 1997, West produced Healing In The Dark with acoustic rock duo Blonde on Blonde. He produced a Bonfiglio Christmas TV special for PBS called "Home For The Holidays". In 1998, he produced Playing God with singer-songwriter Bob Hillman. A second album, Welcome To My Century, was recorded in 2000. In 1999, West again teamed up with Anne Murray and produced What a Wonderful World , a two CD collection of inspirational and secular "message songs". This recording reached No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Christian chart, achieving double platinum status in the United States.

In 2000, West produced Susan Piper's album, The Truth Comes Out. In 2001, West produced eight Christmas songs with Anne Murray as part of a project entitled What a Wonderful Christmas . In 2002, West produced Country Croonin' a thirty-song double CD of timeless country classics, which was certified gold in 2004 by the RIAA. In 2004, West produced All of Me with Anne Murray, a collection of pop standards from The American Songbook.

West focused on new singer-songwriters and recorded many of his projects in his state of the art studio, "Somewhere In New Jersey". Most recently he teamed up with former RCA recording artist Jim Dawson and former Cashman and West tour manager, John Battiloro to produce the anthem "Back Together Again" for The Global Medical Relief Fund at his New Jersey studio.

Related Research Articles

Jim Croce American singer-songwriter

James Joseph Croce was an American folk and rock singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and numerous singles. During this period, Croce took a series of odd jobs to pay bills while he continued to write, record, and perform concerts. After forming a partnership with songwriter and guitarist Maury Muehleisen his fortunes turned in the early 1970s. His breakthrough came in 1972; his third album You Don't Mess Around with Jim produced three charting singles, including "Time in a Bottle", which reached No. 1 after his death. The follow-up album, Life and Times, contained the song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", which was the only No. 1 hit he had during his lifetime.

The Manhattan Transfer American vocal music group

The Manhattan Transfer are a Grammy award-winning jazz vocal group founded in 1969 that has explored a cappella, vocalese, swing, standards, Brazilian jazz, rhythm and blues, and pop music.

Tim Hauser

Timothy DuPron Hauser was a singer and founding member of the vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. He won 10 Grammy Awards as a member of The Manhattan Transfer.

<i>Jim & Ingrid Croce</i> 1969 studio album by Jim Croce

Jim & Ingrid Croce is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce and his wife Ingrid, released in 1969. The album has been rereleased with alternate titles such as "Bombs over Puerto Rico", "Another Day, Another Town", and "Approaching Day".

<i>You Dont Mess Around with Jim</i> 1972 studio album by Jim Croce

You Don't Mess Around with Jim is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released in April 1972.

<i>Life and Times</i> (Jim Croce album) 1973 studio album by Jim Croce

Life and Times is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released in 1973. The album contains the No. 1 Billboard chart hit "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". Croce was nominated for two 1973 Grammy awards in the "Pop Male Vocalist" and "Record of the Year" categories for the song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". It is his final album to be released during his lifetime, as he was killed in a plane crash two months after its release.

<i>I Got a Name</i> 1973 studio album by Jim Croce

I Got a Name is the fifth and final studio album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released on December 1, 1973. It features the ballad "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song", which reached number 9 in the US singles chart, and the ballad "Salon and Saloon", the last song Croce recorded in his lifetime. The song was written by his guitarist Maury Muehleisen and was included on the album as a gift to the writer. The song is noted for its sparse piano-only vocal backing. This would be Croce's final album recorded during his lifetime, as Croce died in a plane crash on September 20, 1973, the day before the album's title song was released, leaving wife Ingrid Croce and son Adrian J. Croce. The title track, the theme from the film The Last American Hero, was another posthumous hit for Croce, reaching number 10 in the US singles chart.

<i>Down the Highway</i> 1980 compilation album by Jim Croce

Down the Highway is a compilation album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released in 1980 on Lifesong Records as LS 8030.

Terry Cashman is a record producer and singer-songwriter, best known for his 1981 hit, "Talkin' Baseball". While the song is well recognized today, it was all but ignored by typical Top 40 radio during its chart life, making only the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

Henry Gross American singer-songwriter (born 1951)

Henry Gross is an American singer-songwriter best known for his association with the group Sha Na Na and for his hit song, "Shannon".

Crack the Sky American progressive rock band

Crack the Sky is an American progressive rock band formed in Weirton, West Virginia, in the early 1970s. In 1975, Rolling Stone declared their first album the "debut album of the year", and in 1978, Rolling Stone Record Guide compared them to Steely Dan. Their first three albums charted on the Billboard 200. In 2015, their debut album was ranked number 47 in the Rolling Stone list of "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time ". The band continues to release albums and perform to a small but devoted fan base to this day.

<i>Safety in Numbers</i> (Crack the Sky album) 1978 studio album by Crack the Sky

Safety in Numbers is the third studio album by American rock band Crack the Sky, released on LP in October 1978 by Lifesong Records. It is the band's highest charting release on the Billboard album chart, peaking at No. 126.

The Chevrons

The Chevrons were a United States pop group who recorded the hit record "Lullabye" in 1960. The band featured lead singer Terry Cashman, best known for his baseball songs, notably "Talkin' Baseball", then known as Dennis Minogue. The group disbanded when John "Marty" Trautman, co-founder of the group, was drafted by the U.S. Army on December 11, 1962.

Nick Venet was an American record producer who began his career at age 19 with World Pacific Jazz. He is best known for signing The Beach Boys to Capitol Records and producing the band's earlier material including Surfin' Safari. Brian Wilson has credited Venet with helping him learn the craft of production.

Chain Gang (song) 1960 single by Sam Cooke

"Chain Gang" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released on July 26, 1960. The song became one of Cooke's most successful singles, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, behind both "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" by Connie Francis and "Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne On the Hot R&B Sides chart, the song peaked at number two as well. Overseas, "Chain Gang" charted at number nine on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Cooke's first top-ten single there.

Maurice T. "Maury" Muehleisen was an American musician, songwriter, and artist best known for his studio work, live accompaniment, and impact on the music of Jim Croce. He died in the same plane crash that killed Croce.

<i>Jukin</i> 1971 studio album by The Manhattan Transfer

Jukin' is the debut album by The Manhattan Transfer. Released on Capitol Records in 1971, it was also the only album by the first version of the group, which consisted of Tim Hauser, Erin Dickins, Marty Nelson, Gene Pistilli, and Pat Rosalia.

<i>The Faces Ive Been</i> 1975 compilation album by Jim Croce

The Faces I've Been is a posthumous double album by Jim Croce, released in 1975.

<i>Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour</i> 1989 live album by Jim Croce

Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour is a live album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, originally released in 1989, roughly 16 years after his untimely death at age 30 in a plane crash on September 20, 1973. Recorded on the 1973 tour, the album features in-concert performances of some of Croce's biggest hits, peppered with stories and banter between songs, adding the inspiration for some of them. Two other songs, "Ball of Kerrymuir" and "Shopping for Clothes," were never released on Croce's studio albums. This live album has been re-released several times.

<i>Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live</i> 2006 live album by Jim Croce

Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live is a live album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released in 2006, over thirty years after his death. The album is a companion to a DVD released in 2003 of Jim Croce's performances. The recordings were taken from different television programs that Croce appeared on. Two of the tracks on the DVD, "Time in a Bottle" and "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" were cut from the CD release because they were not live performances.


  1. "Tommy West, Producer for Jim Croce & Others, Dies". Best Classic Bands. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 "Tommy West, co-producer of Jim Croce albums, dead at 78". AP News. May 4, 2021.
  3. Warner, Jay. "American Singing Groups: A History from 1940 to Today", p. 135. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006. ISBN   0-634-09978-7. Accessed June 20, 2011. "16-year-old SPANIELS-influenced Tim Hauser and several friends went to see FRANKIE LYMON AND THE TEENAGERS perform at the Convention Center but instead wound up in a near riot.... Then in February 1958 a classmate at St. Rose High School named Tommy Picardo, who had heard about the encounter with his idol Frankie Lymon, came over to Tim in the schoolyard."
  4. [ dead link ]