Best-remembered for his hits “Sheila” (1962) and “Dizzy” (1969), Roe was “widely perceived as one of the archetypal bubblegum artists of the late 1960s, but cut some pretty decent rockers along the way, especially early in his career,” wrote the Allmusic journalist Bill Dahl.
He had a Billboard number 1 hit in the U.S. and Australia in 1962 with the track “Sheila“. A buildup of global sales of “Sheila” meant that the Recording Industry Association of America did not present the gold record until 1969. When “Sheila” became a hit in ’62, ABC-Paramount Records asked him to go on tour to promote the hit. He was reluctant to give up his secure job at GE until ABC-Paramount advanced him $5,000.
However, in March 1963, the UK music magazine NME reported that he and Chris Montez had both been upstaged by the Beatles and their fans on a 21-day UK tour. Late that year, Roe scored a Top 10 hit with “Everybody“, which reached US number 3 and UK number 9, and “The Folk Singer” (number 4 UK) written by Merle Kilgore was also popular.
Following a more successful tour of the United Kingdom by his friend Roy Orbison, Roe toured there and then moved to England where he lived for several years. In 1964, Roe recorded a song written by Buzz Cason entitled, “Diane From Manchester Square” about a girl who worked at EMI House, when it was based in London’s Manchester Square. Sales of this single in the UK were poor, and it failed to chart. During the 1960s, he had several more Top 40 hits, including 1966’s number 8 “Sweet Pea” (number 1 Canada) and number 6 “Hooray for Hazel” (number 2 Canada).
In 1969, his song “Dizzy” went to number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, number 1 in Canada, as well as number 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. This transatlantic chart-topper sold two million copies by mid-April 1969, giving him his third gold disc award.
Although his style of music declined in popularity with the 1970s mass market, Roe maintained a following and continued to perform at a variety of concert venues, sometimes with 1960s nostalgia rock and rollers such as Freddy Cannon and Bobby Vee. In 1986, Roe was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Roe’s autobiography, originally published in 2016, named From Cabbagetown to Tinseltown and places in between, was co-written with Michael Robert Krikorian.
On February 7, 2018, Roe officially announced his retirement on his Facebook page (@TommyRoeOfficial) with this statement: “Today I am announcing my retirement. I have so many great memories of the music and of my fans who have supported me through the years. Fifty five years to be exact. What a gift it has been for me to share this time with you. I hope my music will continue to bring a smile to your hearts and joy to your life. …I will stay in touch through our Facebook page. But for now I am stepping out of the spotlight from scheduled concerts and interviews. Thank you again for your loyal support. I love you all, and may God Bless you. Tommy”
A resident of Atlanta, Georgia and Beverly Hills, California, he is married to Josette Banzet, an actress from France who won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Award for her performance in the 1976 television mini-series, Rich Man, Poor Man. He has a daughter named Cynthia and three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who all live in Georgia.