If you think The Rolling Stones and Willie Nelson have endured as entertainers, you need to check out The Tams at Celebration 2015 on July 3 at Martinsville Speedway.
The Tams have been playing their refreshing, fun style of beach and soul music for more than 55 years. Of course names and faces have changed, but The Tams’ music and style have remained the same: absolutely entertaining.
“We have been blessed,” Albert ‘Little Red’ Cottle, the group’s lead singer and son of founding member Charles Pope said from his Georgia home this week. “For over 50 years either my dad or I have been with this group. It’s all been pretty amazing.”
The Tams will headline Celebration 2015, taking the stage at 8 p.m. on July 3. Fuzzy Logic will open the music portion of the free event at 6 p.m. Carnival rides, 18 in all, will begin at 3 p.m. The fireworks display will start after The Tams’ performance.
The Tams formed in 1960 and took their name from the Tam o’shanter hats they wore on stage. They hit the top 20 the first time in 1962 with “Untie Me” and then hit No. 1 in 1964 with “What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I am).”
While the band continued to record and have one platinum and three gold records to their credit, they became wildly popular for their shows at clubs and festivals, especially beach music festivals. For many years they performed over 300 shows annually; today that number still tops 100.
The demographic of a Tams’ fans is wide in scope, from 70-somethings who heard them for the first time in the 1960s to college kids who may have been introduced to the band’s music by parents or grandparents.
“I’ve been on the road with the group since I was about six,” said Cottle, who was referred to as a “little Tam” when he touring as a child. “I hear so many stories from people who say ‘I remember you when you were little,’ or ‘I remember you when you had the big afro.’ It’s really a legacy thing for us now.”
The Tams have remained true to their music over the years, the music, Cottle says, fans expect to hear.
“Some groups have changed their music, and we do play some newer music. But we keep it old school beach music, especially when we’re playing for passionate beach music fans. We all are used to hearing it the old way; we still need that,” Cottle said.
Big crowds like the one Celebration 2015 will attract are nothing new for Cottle and his band mates – they have toured with the likes of Jimmy Buffet. In fact, it is the crowds that keep this timeless group young.
“I still just love it. When the music starts, when I see the fans, then it’s all about the show,” said Cottle. “It’s been like that since I started when I was six and this is my 40th year. I just feel so much love. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”