Music producer, songwriter, and recording artist Tommy West died on Sunday, May 2, 2021, from complications associated with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.
West is best known for co-producing three Gold-selling albums for his close friend Jim Croce with longtime music and business partner Terry Cashman (Dennis Minogue). Together, they also produced recordings by Dion DiMucci; Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary; and Henry Gross. As songwriters, he and Cashman wrote many songs for The Partridge Family, and as a solo producer, West recorded songs by country artists Ed Bruce, Gail Davies, Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, and Girls Next Door.
Tommy West was born Thomas Ralph Picardo, Jr. on August 17, 1942, in Jersey City, New Jersey. His musical career began in 1958 when he co-founded the doo-wop group, The Criterions, with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hauser. After graduating from Villanova University in 1963, West served in the National Guard, later becoming a radio personality and music director at Long Branch, New Jersey’s WRLB-FM.
He later moved to ABC’s Command Records in New York City, working in promotion. While at the label, West became a first call session singer, recording background vocals for artists such as Frank Sinatra, Mitch Ryder, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Connie Francis, and others. During this time, West also befriended and wrote songs with the label’s head of music publishing, Terry Cashman, and songwriter Gene Pistilli, eventually forming the folk-pop group Cashman, Pistilli & West.
In 1968, the trio moved to Capitol Records, releasing their self-titled album produced by Nik Venet. However, with the departure of Pisitilli, West and Cashman went on to produce projects for Maury Muehleisen, Mary Travers, Jim Dawson, and many others. As songwriters, the duo’s material was recorded by many artists including Cass Elliot, The Manhattan Transfer, Al Martino, Mouth & MacNeal, and more.
West co-founded the Nashville-based MTM Music Group, the record label and publishing company division of actress Mary Tyler Moore’s California-based organization. The MTM label featured mostly West-produced albums and songs, including those by Judy Rodman, Holly Dunn, Almost Brothers, The Voltage Brothers and Girls Next Door. Following MTM, West created his High Harmony Records label, for which he produced Robert Bonfiglio’s Through The Raindrops album, and additional projects for Time-Life and PBS.
Tommy West is survived by his wife Ann Verner Picardo, sister Ann Marie, brother Rick, daughter Cheyenne, stepsons Bradley and Blair Robinson, and three grandchildren, Lila, Amelia and Haley Robinson.
Private services will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
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