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The Tams

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The Tams
OriginAtlanta, Georgia, U.S.
GenresR&B, Soul, Beach music[1]
Years active1960–present
LabelsArlen Records, ABC-Paramount, Probe, Virgin
MembersRobert Lee Smith
Little Red
Past membersJoseph Pope
Horace Key
Floyd Ashton
Charles Pope

The Tams are an American vocal group from Atlanta, Georgia, who enjoyed their greatest chart success in the 1960s, but continued to chart in the 1970s, and the 1980s. Two separate lineups of the group continue to perform and record. One lineup, called 'The Original Tams with R. L. Smith', features original member Robert Lee Smith, and the other lineup is under the leadership of Little Red, the son of longtime member Charles Pope and the nephew of group co-founder Joe Pope.


The band formed in 1960, and took their name from the Tam o'shanter hats they wore on stage.[2] By 1962, they had a hit single on Arlen Records. "Untie Me", a Joe South composition, became a top 20 on the Billboard R&B chart.[2] The 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.[2] The song spent three weeks at number one on the Cash Box R&B chart. Many of their popular hits were written by Ray Whitley.[2]

"Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" was also a modest US hit the same year.[2] The Tams had only one further major US hit (in 1968) when "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy", peaked at #26 on the US R&B chart, and subsequently made the UK top 40 in 1970.[3]

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

The group reached 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 topped the Irish Singles Chart, making them the first African-American group to have a number-one single in Ireland.[4]

The group did not chart again until 1987, when their song "There Ain't Nothing Like Shaggin'" reached #21 in UK, propelled by a regionally-popular dance known as the Carolina shag, which featured heavily in the subsequent 1989 film, Shag.[2] However, the track was banned by the BBC because the word "shag" means "to have sexual intercourse" in colloquial British English.[5]

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.

American singer-songwriter Tameka Harris, born in 1975, is the daughter of Dianne Cottle-Pope and Charles Pope.[6] Charles Pope died from Alzheimer's disease on July 11, 2013, at the age of 76.[7]

Later years[edit]

In recent years the group has been led by Albert "Little Red" Cottle Jr., the son of former member Albert Cottle.[8]


  • 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, died 1995)
  • Charles Pope (born Charles Walter Pope, August 7, 1936, Atlanta, Georgia; died July 11, 2013)
  • Floyd Ashton (born August 15, 1933) (member from 1960 to 1963)
  • Little Red aka Lil' Red (born August 2, 1969)[3][9][10]



Year Title Chart positions

1962 "Untie Me" 60 12
1963 "What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)" 9 1
1964 "You Lied to Your Daddy" 70 27
"It's All Right (You're Just in Love)" 79
"Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" 41 10
"Find Another Love" 87
"Silly Little Girl" 87
1965 "I've Been Hurt"
1968 "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" 61 26 32
"Trouble Maker" 118
1971 "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" 87 1
1987 "There Ain't Nothing Like Shaggin'" 21
1988 "My Baby Sure Can Shag" 100 91
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Hey Girl Don't Bother Me![edit]

This was the group's first album in 1964. It has the single of the same name.

Hey Girl Don't Bother Me!
Studio album by
GenreRhythm and Blues
Singles from Hey Girl Don't Bother Me!
  1. "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me"
    Released: June 1964
  2. "Silly Little Girl"
    Released: October 1964
Side One
1."Weep Little Girl"Mac Davis2:21
2."Go Away Little Girl"Goffin-King2:13
3."What Kind of Girl Are You"Ray Whitley1:55
4."Hey Little Girl"Buddy Funk2:31
5."Why Did My Little Girl Cry"Harry Middlebrooks2:11
6."Hey Girl Don't Bother Me"Ray Whitley2:25
Side Two
1."Silly Little Girl"Joe South2:36
3."My Lady Elaina"Judy Thomas2:08
4."Melancholy Baby"Morton-Burnett2:21
5."She's Funny That Way"Whiting-Clark2:50
6."Anna (Go to Him)"Arthur Alexander2:45

Other albums[edit]

  • 1964: Presenting the Tams
  • 1967: Time for the Tams
  • 1968: A Little More Soul
  • 1969: A Portrait of the Tams
  • 1970: Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
  • 1970: Best of the Tams
  • 1982: Reminiscing
  • 1982: Precious Moments
  • 1983: Beach Music from the Tams
  • 1999: Steppin' Out in the Light
  • 2004: Comin' at Cha!

See also[edit]


  • The New Musical Express Book of Rock, 1975, Star Books, ISBN 0-352-30074-4


  1. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on February 21, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 1161/2. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 549. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ "The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words". BBC. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  6. ^ Miller, Zell (1996). They Heard Georgia Singing. Mercer University Press. p. 285. ISBN 0-86554-504-9.
  7. ^ Doc Rock. "July to December". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Archived from the original on October 4, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  8. ^ "Love of the Music Has Kept Tams Going Strong". Martinsville Speedway. June 22, 2015. Archived from the original on October 29, 2015.
  9. ^ Shaw, Michelle E. (July 17, 2013). "Charles Pope, 76: Original member of R&B group the Tams". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on August 23, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Tams Biography". Archived from the original on March 7, 2003.
  11. ^ a b "The Tams (US)". Music VF. Archived from the original on September 21, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 304. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "The Tams (UK)". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.

External links[edit]