The Tams: Higher & Higher

Tams live at Charleston Beach Music Love Train

Welcome To Northernsoultrain


The Tams, sometimes billed as "The Joe Pope Tams" are an American vocal group from Atlanta, Georgia, who enjoyed their greatest chart success in the 1960s, and the 1970s, and most improbably in the 1980s. Two separate versions of the group continue to perform and record. One version features original member R. L. Smith - The Original Tams w/R.L. Smith, and the other under the leadership of Charles Pope, brother of founder Joe Pope.

They were originally formed in 1960,Tams and took their long lasting 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 Swan Records. "Untie Me", a Joe South composition, became a Top 20 U.S. 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 U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

"Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" was also a modest US hit the same year. The Tams had only one further major U.S. 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.

Their 1965 recording "I've Been Hurt" was their biggest regional hit (based on sales and airplay) prior to 1980. To show the importance of regional sales and airplay, fellow beach music stars Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs have an RIAA Gold Record for Williams' song "May I", that never made the Billboard Hot 100. Many radio stations and DJs consider "I've Been Hurt" to be the biggest selling and most played Tams song, even though it was primarily popular in the southeast (and not recognized as a national hit by Billboard).

However, the group stunned many (including themselves), 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

They were destined to not chart again until sixteen years later, when a further UK Top 40 entry came about because of the band's association with a dance craze 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 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. In 1999, they were featured performers with Jimmy Buffett on his CD, Beach House on the Moon, and also toured with him around the country.

Main personnel

    Joseph Pope - born Joseph Lee Pope, 6 November 1933, Atlanta, Georgia — died 16 March 1996
    Robert Lee Smith - born 18 March 1936
    Horace Key - born 13 April 1934, Atlanta, Georgia
    Charles Pope - born 7 August 1936, Atlanta, Georgia
    Floyd Ashton - born 15 August 1933 - joined 1960 - left 1963

Chart hits

    "Untie Me" - (1962) - U.S. R&B chart 12, U.S. Hot 100 chart 60.
    "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" - (1964) - U.S. R&B chart 41.
    "It's All Right (You're Just in Love)" - (1964) - U.S. R&B chart 79.
    "Silly Little Girl" - (1964) - U.S. R&B chart 87.
    "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" - (1964) - U.S. Hot 100 chart 9 - (ABC-Paramount).
    "You Lied to Your Daddy" - (1964) - U.S. R&B chart 70.
    "I've Been Hurt" - (1965) - did not chart, Southeast regional hit
    "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" - (1968) - U.S. R&B chart 26, U.S. Hot 100 chart 61.
    "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" - (1970) - UK chart 32.
    "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" - (1971) - UK chart 1 - (Probe).
      "There Ain't Nothing Like Shaggin'" - (1987) - UK chart 21 - (Virgin).

Back to the ARTISTS page
Contact Info

The Tams: I Love Music @ '08 BB&T Party in the Park


Velours - I'm Gonna Change

5 Stairsteps And Cubie Stay Close To Me

Jump aboard the train for a trip back to the home page