Born Thomas David Roe in Atlanta, his family moved to Alpharetta while he was a young boy. In the late '50's he formed a band, the Satins and recorded the first version of Sheila, which did not sell. In 1962, as a single artist recording for Paramount, he re-recorded the song and released it as the 'B' side on a 45rpm. It became his first #1 hit.
Shiela and other early hits did nothing to conceal Tommy's strong ties to deceased rocker Buddy Holly, both from a vocal and musical point. He continued through the decade with an impressive string of hits. However, It was Tommy's underlying contributions to the creation of the wildly crazy, albeit brief "Bubblegum Rock" craze in the late 1960s that earned him a prominent position in rock and roll history.