Troy Shondell, who had a single top ten hit in 1961 with This Time, died at a nursing home in Picayune, MS on Thursday at the age of 76. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Born Gary Wayne Schelton in Ft. Wayne, IN, he began as a songwriter seeing one of his songs, which he wrote at the age of 14, recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials. Fascinated with music and performing, he learned to play five different instruments and released his first single, My Hero, in 1958 under the name Gary Shelton.
Later in the year, Shondell released Kissin’ at the Drive-In which, although not a charting hit, became popular in outdoor movie houses around the mid-west.
Troy next put together a sixteen week run at the Brass Rail in Chicago, a club that had never booked rock acts in the past, leading to his signing with Mark Records in 1959 and the release of a couple of regional hits, The Trance and Goodbye Little Darlin’ but it was in 1961 that Troy finally made it nationally with the release of This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up). The record also started out regionally on the Gaye label before being picked up by Goldcrest Records in Los Angeles. Within three months of its original release, This Time was rereleased on Liberty Records and went to number 6 in the U.S. and number 22 in the U.K.
Followup records did not share the success of This Time and Troy eventually stopped recording, becoming a songwriter for Acuff-Rose Music in Nashville in 1968. A year later, he became the Assistant Regional Director for ASCAP’s office in Music City.
He remained in the music field, writing and producing, while continuing to occasionally perform. In the early-2000’s, he started singing as a member of the Masters of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Jimmy Clanton, Ronnie Dove and Ray Peterson.
While Shondell only had one national hit, his influence and popularity could be seen in others work. Tommy James named his band the Shondells as a salute to Troy. Chicago’s The Ides of March also were originally known as the Shon-dells.
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