Tom King

Tom King  (July 13, 1942 – April 23, 2011) was an American songwriter, guitarist, and arranger.  He founded the 1960’s rock band The Outsiders, and co-wrote the band’s biggest hit song, “Time Won’t Let Me”.   (More from Wikipedia)
Back in 1958, Tom King, at the tender age of 15, started things off with a rhythm and blues band that he formed called the Starfires.  Their repertoire was mostly instrumentals, with occasional vocals by King; they were local favorites, playing up to six shows per week, and had a minor local hit based on the popular TV commercial, Stronger than Dirt for Ajax laundry detergent.  (Ajax had basically invented advertising jingles years earlier).  When King began to lose his voice, he brought in Sonny Geraci and his brother Mike Geraci; and the band quickly began to transition to the more modern sounds being ushered in by Motown and the nascent British Invasion.  Their legacy as a hard-working R&B band helped them successfully compete against the Brits.

Tom King and his brother-in-law Chet Kelley came up with a gem called “Time Won’t Let Me”, a near-perfect amalgam of Motown and Merseybeat that even 45 years later is one of those songs that I never get tired of hearing.  Under pressure from Capitol Records, the band changed its name to the Outsiders and had a string of Top 40 hits over the mid-1960’s like “Girl in Love” and “Respectable” that, sadly, are almost completely overshadowed by their biggest hit.  They released a total of four albums in the 1960’s, all quite good; even the fake “live” album somehow works.  Until Chicago came along with their Roman numeral series, the Outsiders had perhaps the most boring series of album names of the time:  Besides the first that was named for their hit song, Time Won’t Let Me – and was originally going to be called simply The Outsiders – the others were Album #2, The Outsiders In and Happening Live!.  Their recordings had judicious use of horns and paved the way for other bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Buckinghams and Chicago that were more heavily dominated by their brass sections.

The Outsiders broke up at the end of the decade but almost immediately reformed – actually, there were two bands called the Outsiders for a time:  one in Los Angeles headed by Sonny Geraci, and the other back in Cleveland led by Tom King.  King won the lawsuit over the use of the name, so Geraci changed his band’s name to Climax
(February 2010)
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Last edited: March 22, 2021