The Tams

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For other uses, see Tams (disambiguation).
The Tams
Tams LP Cover Scan.jpg
Background information
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres R&B, Soul, Beach music
Years active 1960–present
Labels Arlen Records, ABC-Paramount, Probe, Virgin
Members Robert Lee Smith
Little Red
Past members Joseph Pope
Horace Key
Floyd Ashton
Charles Pope

The Tams are an American vocal group from Atlanta, Georgia, United States, who enjoyed their greatest chart success in the 1960s, and the 1970s, and most improbably in the 1980s. Two separate versions of the group continued to perform and record. One version features original member Robert Lee Smith - 'The Original Tams with R. L. Smith', and the other was under the leadership of Charles Pope, the brother of co-founder Joe Pope.


The band formed in 1960, and took their name from the Tam o'shanter hats they wore 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 only one 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.[1]

Their 1965 recording "I've Been Hurt" was their biggest regional hit (based on sales and airplay) prior to 1980.

However, the group 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 song also went to number one in Ireland, making the group the first black soul group to top the Irish Charts.

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 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.[2]

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.

The American singer-songwriter, Tameka Harris, was born in 1975, to Dianne Cottle-Pope and Charles Pope in College Park, Georgia.[3]

Charles Pope died on July 11, 2013, at the age of 76.[4]

Main personnel[edit]

  • 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)
  • Little Red - son of Charles Pope[1]

Chart hits[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 140. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ "h2g2 - The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words". Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  3. ^ Miller, Zell (1996). They Heard Georgia Singing. Mercer University Press. p. 285. ISBN 0-86554-504-9. 
  4. ^ Doc Rock. "July to December". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 549. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]