Tams History

In 1962 producer Bill Lowery agreed to cut one demo of the Tams, “Untie Me“. To his surprise the record gained much regional success allowing him to negotiate a major recording contract with ABC Records.
In 1963 our first album with ABC records produced a string of hits…”What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am“, which reached #6 on Billboard. “Lied To Your Daddy” and “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” (gold in Europe in 1971) #40 USA Billboard, “Laugh It Off”, “I’ve Been Hurt“. In 1968 “Be Young, “Be Foolish, Be Happy” reached #26 in Billboard magazine and were the last hits in the USA. They in 1992 “There Ain’t Nothin’ Like Shaggin” reached #3 on the UK Top 30.

was given to us by a former member of the group, Willie James Rutherford, now deceased, who bought the first outfits for the group, red sweaters and blue tams(o’shanters) and that became our trademark. The Tams travel with a five piece band called “Old School” and and play around 100 dates a year.


The Tams originally formed in 1960, and took their name from the Tam o’shanter style of hat, that the group choose to wear on stage. By 1962, they had a hit single on Arlen Records. “Untie Me”, a Joe South composition, became a Top 20 US R&B success. Follow-up releases largely failed until 1964, when “What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)”, reached the Top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song spent three weeks at number one on the Cash Box R&B chart.

“Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” was also a modest US hit the same year. The Tams had a further major US hit (in 1968) when “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”, peaked on the Billboard R&B chart at #26, and subsequently made the UK Top 40 in 1970.

The tam 1965 recording “I’ve Been Hurt” was their biggest regional hit (based on sales and airplay) prior to 1980.

However, The Tams stunned many by flying to the Number one slot in the UK Singles Chart in September 1971, with the re-issue of “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me”, thanks to its initial support from the then thriving UK Northern soul scene.

The Tams charted again sixteen years later, when a further UK Top 40 entry came about because of the band’s association with a regionally-popular dance known as the Carolina shag, which featured heavily in the subsequent 1989 film, Shag. It secured a further lifeline to the group, giving The Tams a No. 21 UK hit with their song, “There Ain’t Nothing Like Shaggin'”. However, the track was subject to an airplay ban by the BBC because the word “shag” means “to have sexual intercourse” in colloquial British English.

Still quite popular in the Southeastern United States, they continue to record new music and perform at well-attended concerts.

The Original Members of The Tams were:

Joseph Pope – born Joseph Lee Pope, November 6, 1933, Atlanta, Georgia — died March 16, 1996
Robert Lee Smith – born March 18, 1936
Horace Key – born April 13, 1934, Atlanta, Georgia
Charles Pope – born August 7, 1936, Atlanta, Georgia — died July 11, 2013
Floyd Ashton – born August 15, 1933 (1960–1963)

R.L. Smith is the only surviving member of the original lineup of  The Tams aka The Mighty Tams

Chart hits

“Untie Me” (1962) – US R&B No. 12, US Pop No. 60
“Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” (1964) – US Pop No. 41
“It’s All Right (You’re Just in Love)” (1964) – US Pop No. 79
“Silly Little Girl” (1964) – US Pop No. 87
“What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)” (1964) – US Pop No. 9 (ABC-Paramount)
“You Lied to Your Daddy” (1964) – US Pop No. 70
“I’ve Been Hurt” (1965)
“Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” (1968) – US R&B No. 26, US Pop No. 61
“Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” (1970) – UK No. 32
“Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” (1971) – UK No. 1 – (Probe)
“There Ain’t Nothing Like Shaggin'” (1987) – UK No. 21 – (Virgin)[6]

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