Though best known for producing the classic hits of singer/songwriter Jim Croce, the team of Terry Cashman and Tommy West also enjoyed successful performing and composing careers in their own right. Cashman was born Dennis Minogue in New York City on July 5, 1941; while playing minor league baseball in the Detroit Tigers' farm system during the late 1950s, he simultaneously fronted the Chevrons, scoring a handful of minor pop hits and even appearing on [RoviLink="VW"]American Bandstand. However, as both his baseball and performing careers waned, in 1964 Cashman joined the promotions staff of ABC Records; there he eventually teamed with songwriter Gene Pistilli to author the lovely "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," a Top Ten pop hit for Spanky and Our Gang during the summer of 1967. In time the duo joined forces with fellow tunesmith Tommy West, born Thomas Picardo, Jr. on August 17, 1942. Like Cashman, West began his career as a performer, co-founding the New Jersey-based vocal group the Criterions in 1958; after a handful of unsuccessful singles, they adopted the name the Troubadours. West concurrently attended Villanova University, joining the collegiate vocal club and befriending fellow member Croce.
As Cashman, Pistilli, and West, the threesome recorded a series of singles and a pair of LPs, 1967's Bound to Happen and the following year's For Love of Ivy, to little notice; under the name the Buchanan Brothers, however, they notched a hit in mid-1969 with "Medicine Man." Meanwhile, at West's urging, Capitol signed his old friend Croce and wife Ingrid to a record deal; Cashman, Pistilli, and West also produced the resulting LP, 1969's Approaching Day, but when the record failed to generate much interest, the Croces were dropped from their contract. Soon after, Pistilli dissolved the partnership to join the Manhattan Transfer; Cashman and West continued as a duo, recording as Morning Mist before issuing 1972's A Song or Two under their given names and scoring a Top 30 hit with "American City Suite." When Croce signed to ABC in 1972, Cashman and West resumed production duties, and as the album You Don't Mess Around With Jim launched a pair of hit singles, "Operator" and the title cut, they divided their time between their own career (issuing Moondog Serenade in 1973) and Croce's (helming Life and Times and I Got a Name).
In the wake of Croce's tragic death in a September 20, 1973 plane crash, Cashman and West issued one more LP, Lifesong, before ending their recording partnership, although in 1975 they founded their own label -- also dubbed Lifesong -- scoring a Top Ten hit the following year with Henry Gross' "Shannon." Also in 1976, West recorded his debut solo album, Hometown Frolics. Cashman issued a self-titled effort of his own around the same time; in 1981, he returned to his roots with the cult hit "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey and the Duke)," a nostalgic ode to the national pasttime heartily embraced by the sport and its fans. Sports remained the dominant theme of Cashman's work in the years which followed; in 1982, he released two Talkin' Baseball collections (one for the American League, the other for the National League), and in 1994 issued Passin' It On--America's Baseball Heritage in Song. Three years later, he also wrote and produced A Champion Forever: The Cry of the U.S. Open, an oral history of the historic golf tournament, in addition to work with cable sports network ESPN. West, meanwhile, launched High Harmony Records in 1992, producing Anne Murray's Croonin' album a year later; he also established his own recording studio, Somewhere in New Jersey. ~ Jason Ankeny
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