The Tams are a veteran R&B/soul vocal group from Atlanta, Georgia that became famous beginning in the early 1960s. Formed in 1960 by Charles Pope (August 7, 1936 - July 11, 2013) along with his brother, Joseph Pope (November 6, 1933 - March 16, 1996), other original members included Floyd Ashton, Horace Kay, and Robert Lee Smith, with a number of personnel changes over the years. Best known for their soulful yet upbeat, danceable songs as well as their signature tam o'shanter hats, The Tams have long been among Carolina beach music's most popular acts, and they also amassed a loyal fan base in the U.K. beginning in the early 1970s as part of the then-emerging Northern Soul scene.
The Tams debuted on both the Pop/Rock and R&B charts in 1962 with the Joe South-penned "Untie Me" and their fame took off the following year with "What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am)," which made the Top 10 on both charts and became the group's greatest hit. The Tams' many other hits also included "You Lied To Your Daddy" (1964), "It's All Right (You're Just In Love)" (1964), "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" (1964), "Silly Little Girl" (1964), and "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" (1968). Other songs for which The Tams are well known include their cover of the Ray Whitney-penned "I've Been Hurt" which became a top regional hit in 1965. A number of the group's hits later re-emerged on the U.K. charts: "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy," which made the Top 40 in 1970, and "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me," which topped the charts in 1971. The Tams later had another Top 40 U.K. hit in 1987 with "There Ain't Nothing Like Shaggin'" based on a regionally popular dance in the U.S. known as the Carolina shag.
Two incarnations of The Tams have continued to perform and record to the present day. One lineup known as R.L. Smith & His Original Tams features original member Robert Lee Smith. The other lineup, formed under the leadership of the late Pope brothers, was known as The Joe Pope Tams and now goes by the original group name.
- For more info about the history of The Tams and current projects, visit thetams.com.
- For more info about R.L. Smith & His Original Tams and booking arrangements, visit beyoungbefoolish.com.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution remembers Charles Pope.
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- What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am) 1963
(This song later also became a hit for Bill Deal (1969).)
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