Whatever happened to ... Tommy Vann

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... ?

April 19, 2008|By Jacques Kelly

Singer Tommy Vann, who opened what seems like 100 acts at the old Civic Center, lives in Abingdon. He's getting a new CD ready, Captured by the Sound. He's also recording a doo-wop album and another of Christmas music. He is 69.

"Everybody thinks I was born in Baltimore, but I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.," said Vann, whose real name is Thomas Stauch. In the 1960s, while on leave from his Marine Corps barracks in Quantico, Va. (he was already first tenor in a doo-wop group, the Emblems), he went to a party in Parkville. There he met his wife, Beryl. They've been married for 46 years.

In 1963, Tommy Vann and the Echoes made its debut. It was a six-member group and played Four Seasons, Temptations and Four Tops numbers. He appeared at Hollywood Park in Essex, the Palms on Ritchie Highway, the Rhapsody in Westport, Club Casino on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Wishing Well in Parkville and Club Venus on Joppa Road. When he started, he and his band members got $5 a night.

Vann's version of "Too Young" was a 1966 hit and sold 650,000 copies. Over the years, Vann and his groups, the Echoes and the Professionals, recorded for both Academy and Capitol Records.

In 1970, he joined the Admirals, then a popular band, and performed at President Richard M. Nixon's 1973 inaugural party at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue. He'll never forget that night: The Glenn Miller Orchestra was in one adjacent room, Lionel Hampton in another, Kenny Rogers in one more.

He also sang the 1973 "Feeling Free" Pepsi jingle.

By 1977, his career was beginning to slow down and he moved to Morris, N.Y., where his family lived. He ran a sporting goods store and tended bar at a friend's restaurant but decided to return to Maryland 15 years ago. He set up Tommy Vann Productions and remains a singer, disc jockey and karaoke host. He appears one night a week at Tulley's on Belair Road and has a number of weddings booked this spring and summer.

As to life in Harford County: "It's quiet. I love living here."

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