PHOTO: L-R: Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Tommy C.
Tommy C has lived in Detroit his entire life, where decades of musical success took root and continued to grow into the lucrative career he has now. Influenced by various types of musical styles, from Motown to rock ‘n’ roll, he started delving into the music world at the age of 7 and never looked back.
In the span of his extensive career, Tommy C served as the musical director for Chubby Checker for 10 years. He also played on stage with a number of musical legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Conway Twitty, Fats Domino, The Temptations and the Four Tops, among others. Over decades being influenced by the greats, who he credits for giving him the edge on how real rock ‘n’ roll should be performed, Tommy C now describes his personal sound as “a tribute to the greatest era of rock ‘n’ roll.”
I had the pleasure of speaking to Tommy C last week, and after just a few minutes I got the sense that he was a genuine, whole-hearted man with a strong passion for life. His evident love of music is exuberant and explosive, and you can just tell that he lives each day to the fullest.
Now, however, Tommy C shares the dedication he devotes to his craft with something else – his family; more specifically, his adult son, Tommy Clufetos, daughter-in-law, Casey, and 2-year-old granddaughter, Juney Bee. So much so, in fact, that he has decided to pack up his life in Detroit and make the move to Santa Clarita in order to be close to the family members who live here.
When Tommy C starts to talk about his family something in his voice changes. The professionalism of this music man is still very much there, but you can sense that it slowly starts to melt away until you are left with a new Tommy C – father and grandfather. The love he expresses for his family is heartwarming, especially when he’s discussing his little granddaughter, who is already displaying musical talent of her own.
His son is no stranger to the world of music either; he started playing drums in his dad’s band at the age of 11 and had the
opportunity to accompany him on tour. Now a drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, the younger Clufetos has molded a successful musical career for himself based on his father’s guidance and influence. And Tommy C could not be prouder.
Upon making the decision to leave Detroit for California, he quickly started putting together a new group of guys with some help from his son, which came to be called Tommy C and the Black Widow Grease Band. This team of talented Los Angeles musicians, who he describes as “highly adrenalized, high-octane rockers,” is ready to take the local music scene by storm, fronted by Tommy C’s Detroit Motor City style of rock ‘n’ roll.
They will be releasing a new studio album in May of 2020 titled “Hidden Treasures,” which Tommy C says will feature songs he loves, songs that hold a special place in his heart, along with some original music from the new group. The band will also be touring the West Coast, starting with a debut performance at the Canyon in Valencia on January 10, 2020.
What can we expect from a Tommy C and the Black Widow Grease Band show?
“If you see us, your kids will love it, you will love it and your grandparents will love it. Just come and forget your worries. You will leave smiling,” he says.
He truly believes that in order to put on a great show there has to be a lot of audience interaction, because “it’s all about the people – without them, there’s nothing.”
Tommy C is overall a charming man whose musical prowess is sure to elevate the already growing music scene in Santa Clarita. If his new sound and stage presence is anywhere near as energetic as my conversation with him, and as animated as he is when he talks about Juney Bee, we are all in for a performance of a lifetime.
For more information on Tommy C and the Black Widow Grease Band visit www.tommycbwgb.com.