Born Cliff Thomas Holden, Jr., Tom grew up in a musical family in Texarkana, Texas. His father was an accomplished musician and played piano, slide trombone and always had a barbershop quartet. Tom was hearing four-part harmonies from the womb. His mother had a very pretty soprano voice and was in the church choir and The Sweet Adelines, a female barbershop quartet.

Tommy sang in his first public performance at age five at a minstrel show in Wake Village, Texas, singing a duet with a girl in his Sunday school class. From then on it was in his blood. He played in the school band with his first instrument being the French horn. Always playing around with a pair of bongos with rubber bands stretched across the head was enough to give his father, Cliff, the hint to put a down payment on his first set of drums at age 15. He immediately started taking drum instruction and became a member of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers that same year. He also was first-chair drummer at Texas High School in Texarkana, where he played his drum set in front of the high school band at home games.

Soon Tommy and a few of his friends had started their first band, The Renegades. At the same time he played jazz music at jam sessions with his friend Byron Atkins’ father’s big band, played country with a local farmer, Billy Bohandle and the Wonders, and rock and roll just got in his blood.

As quick as he could get out of town after graduating high school, Tommy moved to Austin, Texas, and joined a band called Pumpkin that played fraternity parties and local rock joints. He soon was hired by Leonard Arnold and Rodney Garrison to play and sing in a band called Phoenix, where eventually Jeff Clark joined, and the original songs started to hit the stage. Leonard and Rodney left the band, so Jeff and Tommy, stumped for a name, started a band called Stump and hired David Frame (one of the old Oak Cliff Dallas boys) to play bass and sing. Stevie Ray Vaughan was the guitarist.  When Stevie Ray left the band, they found Brian Wooten and started to rehearse and write songs together. During that time, Brian introduced Tom and Jeff to his friend and bassist from Beeville, Danny Swinney, who joined the band. These four Texas boys formed Too Smooth and the band became an Austin legend in the mid 1970s.

Tommy was the first member to leave Too Smooth to start his own band called the Cliff Thomas Band, which was his first solo effort. In the ‘80s Tommy started working with several 6th Street bands. He played drums with Special Interest, backing up a group of singers called Hot Wax with Jamie Hilboldt and Joe Morales. Tommy, Jamie and Joe formed a jazz band with Jon Blondel named Joe and the Three Tall White Guys.  At the same time, he played with such groups as Stephen Doster Band, Texas Weather, The Fabulous GTOs, XKE, and wound up in Duck Soup for a few seasons playing the PGA tour after-parties at the 19th hole.

Tommy married a wonderful lady named Donna in 1989 and took a long vacation from the music business from 1993 to 2003 to enjoy married life. They lived several fantastic years together in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, but those days ended unexpectedly with the tragic and sudden death of Donna in January, 2003.  As Tom says, “Thank God above there was a Too Smooth reunion scheduled a few weeks later in Austin for me to throw myself into. What a fantastic time it was reuniting with my fellow band members and getting to see so many friends after so many years!  All of those wonderful friends helped me greatly during that time of grief.”

At that reunion Tom saw an old friend, Dan Wallace, who had a band called the Danotones in the Huntsville/Conroe area. Tom loved the Danotones, so he joined the band and kicked his drumming back into gear. They played all over Texas and soon added his old bandmate, Scotty Crooks. This got Tommy’s juices flowing even more, and shortly thereafter, he and Scotty got together with Jimmy Umstattd and Jamie Hilboldt to form Tom's band, Holden On. He had a chance to play with Joe Forlini and Mike Cross of Forlini and Cross and the three of them put out some great music together. Through Mike, Tommy met David Murray of Murray Music Studios. Tommy and David put together a band named Tommy and the Troublemakers with several other musicians in a rotation of players that come in and out of performances. He and David formed a songwriting team and they were thrilled to place one of their songs in next season’s final episode of tv's Friday Night Lights.

“It is such a pleasure to work in Austin with artists who have the ability to let the music matter more than their egos or the drama that goes on in and around this business. I am very thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead. I’m just thankful to be on the grassy side of the dirt.” --  Tommy





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