In early 1968 “Mony Mony” by Tommy James and the Shondells hit number one in the UK and peak at number three in the US. Until this track, the band had only hit it big with the very funky “Hanky Panky” in 1966.
“Mony Mony”, along with “Crimson and Clover" six months later , began an incredible two-year run of legendary late 60s pop music: “ I Think We're Alone Now", “Mirage”, "Sweet Cherry Wine", "Crystal Blue Persuasion" and "Draggin' the Line".
The title was inspired by Tommy James's view of a MONY sign atop the Mutual of New York Building from his Manhattan apartment. He says that he had the track done before he had a title. He wanted something catchy like "Sloopy" or "Bony Maroney," but everything sounded so stupid. Then he walked out to the terrace, looked up and saw the Mutual of New York building which has its initials illuminated in red at its top. He said to himself: "That's gotta be it! It's almost as if God Himself had said, "Here's the title."
“The idea was to create a party rock record; in 1968 that was pretty much of a throwback to the early '60s. Nobody was making party rock records really in 1968, those big-drum-California-sun-what-I-sing-money-type songs. I wanted to do a party rock record. We went in the studio, and pasted this thing together out of drums here, and a guitar riff here. It was called sound surgery."
When they recorded it the group considered a throwaway B-side and had no idea it would become a huge hit. There was no drummer, so the recording engineer went out there, but he could only get through 2 bars. Before there were loops or anything else, the band copied the 2 bars of drums 44 times and spliced them together, and that's the track. It was an early loop before there was looping.
“We had our usual studio band, but we also dragged in people off the street, we had secretaries come downstairs. This was in the 1650 Broadway Building, the basement of 1650 was a big music industry building. All the writers and publishers were there, so we invited them all downstairs, and it was really a party that got captured on tape. There were all these serious guys out there having lunch, and we said, 'You want to sing on a Tommy James record?'"