March 7, 2008

Tom Austin: From The Royal Teens to Amazing Artist

March 7th, 2008

Tom Austin Art Print

Jim Beckerman of has a terrific feature about Tom Austin, former member of the Royal Teens with Bob Gaudio, who is now a successful artist.

According to Beckerman, Tom Austin has come a long, long way since “Short Shorts.”

Remember “Short Shorts”? If you weren’t around in 1958, when the Royal Teens shot to No. 3 on the charts with one of rock’s most provocative fashion statements (“Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts”), then you probably remember the song from the Nair commercials that, starting in the 1970s, put it back on the radar.

Or perhaps you know it from the hit show “Jersey Boys,” where it appears early in the back story of the lads who become the Four Seasons. Either way, Austin gets royalties.

“It’s funny, because young people think the song was just a commercial,” says Austin, the Ramsey resident who co-wrote the song in 1957. “They don’t know it was a hit song.”

Austin, 68, was one of the original Royal Teens, the Bergen County-based band (Austin of Fort Lee on drums, Bill Crandall from Dumont on sax, Bill Dalton of Fort Lee on guitar, Bob Gaudio of Bergenfield on keyboards) that turned a paean to cutoff jeans into one of rock’s most unlikely hits.

“It’s part of the culture,” he says. “Very rarely does a song stay so popular for 50 years.”

These days, “Short Shorts” still figures in Austin’s life — if nothing else, as a kind of calling card for people who come into contact with him through his Ramsey business, Austin Real Estate and Appraisal Co., or through another of his endeavors, fine art.

“In my art, I like to reconstruct times and places that interest me,” says Austin, who is having his first solo gallery exhibition at Fieldstone Fine Art Gallery in Ramsey from March 13 to April 14. Visit the gallery’s website for more details.

“Short Shorts Season” is among the 16 oils, watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings, created over the last 10 years, that will be on display. Most — not all — are for sale (“Short Shorts Season” is not, though numbered prints are available).

Some of his pieces, like “Gasoline Alley” or “The Riviera” (a famous, defunct Fort Lee nightspot), are the kind of golden ’50s scenes one might expect from a guy who, at age 17, had the privilege of touring with Sam Cooke, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Avalon, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.

Others, like “Amistad” and “Wednesday Night Race,” pay tribute to another of his passions, sailing.

“Music and art are both done to please people,” Austin says. “Artists are always putting their emotions at risk in hopes of entertaining people.”

For the full story of Tom Austin’s career with the Royal Teens and his career as an artist, visit

Tom Austin of the Royal Teens



    Comment by Jody Cardillo — March 7, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  2. I agree with Jody. I want one!

    Comment by Audrey — March 7, 2008 @ 11:56 am

  3. What a great painting! On closer inspection, one can truly feel the excitement of New York City and Broadway! This painting is destined to be as great as “Short Shorts”.

    Comment by Mimi — March 7, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  4. Me too! Where can we get a print? Audrey, are you the second person from the left in front of the theatre? And is that your vintage black Cadillac convertible?

    Comment by Howard Tucker — March 7, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  5. Tom Austin is a wonderful artist who brings historic images to life through his paint brush. Prints of the Short Shorts Season signed by Austin, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio are available at the Fieldstone Fine Art Gallery, Ramsey, NJ 201-962-3636.

    Comment by Naoma Welk — March 7, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  6. What a Beautiful Picture!
    I must have this picture to hang along side my Black/White Jersey Boys Potrait in Tee Shirts.

    Tom, this is a very beautiful picture.


    Comment by Damaris Dugan — March 7, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  7. The picture is beautiful. I want one. The “boys” standing outside the August Wilson are our boys for me whether that was the artist’s intention or not. Just Love It!!

    Comment by GRACE — March 7, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

  8. The background seems reminiscent of Monet, while the foreground has the appearance of light emanating from the theater, reminiscent of Redlin and Kinkade. Not that I’m an Art expert by any stretch of the imagination…

    Comment by Ted Hammond — March 7, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

  9. I just spoke with Mariana Maldonado…Gallery Director at the Fieldstone Fine Art Gallery…in Ramsey, NJ…she relayed some additional information:

    There will only be (50) signed 14X18 unframed prints available at a cost of $1800.00 each; these can be purchased via phone if you are unable to visit the actual gallery. There will also be an exhibition of Tom Austins work from 13 March thru 13 April at the gallery.

    Comment by NewJerseyLasagna — March 8, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

  10. This is an amazing picture; not only for it’s beautiful artistry, but also for perfectly capturing the mood of West 52nd St and our Boys. Tom Austin is clearly a man of many talents. Audrey, the Fieldstone Gallery would make a great addition to the next JB bus tour!


    Comment by Pamela — March 8, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  11. Please note that the 50 prints are numbered and signed by Tom Austin, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio… truly a collector’s item.

    Comment by Fieldstone Fine Art — March 8, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  12. You can purchase them over the phone you don’t have to actually visit the gallery to buy the picture.
    I just purchased mine over the phone and Mariana said the picture will be signed by Frnakie Valli, Bob Gaudio and Tom Austin.

    I can’t wait to hang this up with my collection of Jersey Boys memorabilia.

    Damaris Dugan

    Comment by Damaris Dugan — March 8, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  13. What a talent! 30 years of watching you develop into an incredible artist….I hope you will have prints of your work for our local residents who will surely want them. D.

    Comment by Doris — March 10, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  14. As someone who has worked very closely with Tom, I feel very proud and happy that his wonderful art work is receiving the recognigtion it deserves.

    Comment by Tony DeHayes — March 11, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  15. I have the Jersey Boys painting by none other than Tom Austin. We have been friends for too many years to mention, crossing each other’s paths. He’s still the friendly, tall, ‘blonde’, handsome guy I knew way back then. Continued success, Tom – we luvya!

    Comment by Carol C - nanee — April 15, 2008 @ 8:45 am


    Comment by jim petrecca — August 10, 2008 @ 11:23 pm

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