Tom Sadge


2012 is shaping up to be a pretty incredible year for Tom Sadge.

He’ll be returning to some theater stages where he has in previous years entertained sold out audiences…

He’ll be a part of shows with Legends in Concert and travelling with his own band…

And he’s begun the celebrations of his 16th anniversary performing his tribute to Neil Diamond… with a voice so pure and authentic that Neil Diamond once offered: “This guy sounds just like me.”

Yes, 2012 is shaping up to be quite a successful, thrilling, fun, travel-filled year for Tom.

Tom should be congratulated for that. He has worked very hard and made many sacrifices to earn that success and to enjoy the rewards that go along with it.

The funny thing is… in trying to organize my thoughts while assembling this piece, two words kept coming back to me, and neither one seemed to involve being on a stage.



Let me explain.

Tom and I met in December of 2010, during a run of shows with Legends in Concert. Our paths would cross every so often over the course of the month, and we discussed the possibility of working on a few projects. Ultimately those discussions developed here at In My Backpack into this interview and a photo gallery. (And I hope that they may develop into even more endeavors in the future.)

During those days, I began hearing about a routine he was following where he would finish a show on Sunday afternoon and then head home to enjoy some of that evening and the day off with his family before returning on Tuesday.

Understand… this man delivers an incredible tribute performance as Neil Diamond. From the first lyrics he sings, he will capture an audience and hold them spellbound and dazzled. His voice is amazing, and his talents run deep.

The thing is… I can’t shake the feeling that if you asked Tom what he is most proud of, his professional career wouldn’t be an immediate answer. Instead, I’m convinced you’d hear him talk about being a husband, a father and a grandfather. Heck… quick side story, and this is 100% accurate…

Tom was raised in Pennsylvania. He literally went around the world, part of that proudly serving in the United States Navy, before returning to Pennsylvania. And it was after leaving his small town origins, going around the world, and then returning to his home state that he met his wife. Marion also comes from a small Pennsylvania town. She is an important part of his life, and a significant contributor to his professional career as well.

Yes… home. That’s a major part of understanding Tom.

Ever since we met, Tom has stayed in contact with me. We speak perhaps once a month or so. Not necessarily long calls… at times just to say hello, catch up on a few recent events, and promise to speak again soon. In a very real way, enough to know that someone is thinking of you and wanted to see how you were doing.

So yes… friendship.

It’s that combination of words that I think defines Tom quite well. He’s thoughtful, considerate and personable. He cares. He places a high value on his family and friends, and through little gestures he lets you know he remembers you and appreciates your part in his life.

It was my sincere pleasure to get to know Tom, and I am proud to consider him a friend. I hope through this effort I can share a bit of what makes him so special… and perhaps encourage you to get out and see him perform should you ever have the chance to do so.

(Please note – This interview is a result of several conversations and e-mails. Portions were conducted in December of 2010. Tom has since performed with several productions as a part of Legends in Concert casts. Over the years, he has been a member of notable production efforts throughout North America. And he often also performs his tribute efforts internationally and on cruise ships.)

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The story of Tom Sadge performing his tribute shows actually begins long before his work as a tribute artist. We need to go back about three decades professionally, and even a bit before that to get a glimpse of his entertainment origins…

Tom hails from a town all of us have heard of before… Avoca. That would be Avoca, Pennsylvania. (For those looking to find Avoca, you need to use reference points such as Pittston, Scranton, and perhaps even the New York state line.) It was there that growing up he would sing in the glee club at school, while also receiving encouragement from his mother – a very talented singer in her own right.

After serving in the U.S. military and traveling a bit along the east coast, Tom returned to his home state and began to carve out a place for himself in the entertainment world. He worked as a DJ and performed in local bars and clubs. Over time, he developed a steady and loyal following.

His singing voice allowed him to cover a great deal of ground during shows. He was known for singing songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The reaction to his performances was more than delight and applause, as audiences also were stunned by the range of his voice and his ability to sing the songs virtually note for note exactly like the original performer.

In particular, his looks matched up nicely with Englebert Humperdinck and Neil Diamond. And when he would deliver renditions of songs by either of these performers, he would leave on-lookers amazed.

His gift for singing and abilities to do incredible vocal impressions worked well with his efforts as a DJ. He became known as a singing DJ, and he even plays an interesting game modeled around his talents. The game is based on a stump-the-caller idea, where a contestant will be asked whether the music played is Tom Sadge singing or a clip of Neil Diamond. It has almost always been Tom singing… and the contestant almost always loses when they guess it’s Neil.

Tom has at times performed a tribute act as Engelbert Humperdinck that has been endorsed by Engelbert. He has even opened concerts for Engelbert, as well as Kool and the Gang and many others. And to this day, he continues to offer The Tom Sadge Show as a live concert.

As Tom himself says: “It always came back to Neil though.” And for our story, we have arrived at the time frame of 1995 to 1996.

Tom’s wife, Marion, had learned about a production show called Legends in Concert that featured tribute performances for well-known celebrities. Tom’s parents had also returned from Las Vegas, where they personally saw several tribute acts. Those around him were providing evidence and encouragement that the looks didn’t need to be perfect… the voice, the mannerisms, and in essence the full package was to be considered. And of the package, it was the voice that mattered the most. For Tom, his speaking and singing voices are dead-on Neil Diamond.

Marion and Tom decided to craft a full tribute show based on Neil Diamond. They took a year to make costumes, watch performances, rehearse Tom’s mannerisms, and overall perfect Tom’s approach. While perhaps only slightly more than vaguely similar in facial features, the entire combination of his voice, stage presence, and visual appearance is remarkable. In 1997, Tom brought the “Tom Sadge As Neil Diamond” to a concert at the University of Western Ontario. He’s been busy ever since.

Tom quickly caught on with a touring group called Legends Alive! Tom was the only American member of this primarily Canadian cast and crew. Since then, he has been a part of production shows while also successfully delivering full sets with his own band. He frequently performs at large venues throughout America and Canada, and has several times performed in Europe.

Tom credits the Neil Diamond performances for providing some of the most exciting moments of his career. And, he is thrilled about how much of his work involves Marion. Often while he travels, she is making arrangements for the next shows, answering requests, phone calls and e-mails, and generally handling the off-stage end of their business.

For Tom, everything begins and ends at home. And the successes of his efforts are that much sweeter because they involve his family.

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Are you going to be bringing “Sweet Caroline” to our stage?

(Laughs) I have to around here, don’t I?

Actually, it will be great performing it. I’ve sung that song in New England before, in fact not too far from here in New London for a baseball game. And then there was a game up in Portland where I came out and sang it. It’s got a great connection with the audience and is a lot of fun. I’m also going to do “I’m a Believer,” which most of the kids know from the Shrek movies.

Having that kind of recognition for the material really helps, since every element of the show combines to create that Legends atmosphere. Do I look exactly like Neil Diamond? No. I don’t. But when an audience is familiar with the material, it helps me make that connection because I’ve done my homework and practice on the moves, and I have a good voice.

How long have you been with Legends?

This is my first run with Legends in Concert, and I’m very proud to be working with them. They are a group of true professionals, and everything is really good. I hope it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship.

What is the biggest draw for you to the stage and entertainment as a profession?

My biggest draw to the stage is that I like to please people. My talent makes that possible.

Performing is in my blood. My mother sang as a young woman and had aspirations – and offers – to make singing her career but ended up opting for family life.

Tell me a bit about music in your family. I know your mother influenced you… has that love of music and performing been passed down to your children?

Both of our children are musically inclined. Fred, my 27 year old son, plays both the guitar and keyboards in addition to being a very good vocalist. He likes to sing like Johnny Cash, not Neil Diamond. Fred’s been in working bands for most of the past 13 years.

Our daughter, Therese, is talented, as well. She plays the guitar, ukulele and is now taking on the piano/keyboards. She has a very amazing voice – quite unlike any other popular singer.

Both of the kids inherited an athletic ability from my wife's side, as well.

What kind of background brought you into working as a tribute artist?

I had been disc jockey for about twenty years. As part of that, I developed a lot of characters and impersonations. (At this point, Tom stopped his answer and offered a dead-on rendition of Rodney Dangerfield: “Well I tell ya, I get no respect.”)

Frank Sinatra and Englebert Humperdinck were other impersonations I did, and I’ve even performed with Englebert before as well.

It always came back to Neil though. When I spoke and when I sang, I kept getting told I sounded just like him.

I’m stunned by all of it. Sometimes I feel like I do need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. And one of the great things for me is being able to work so closely with my wife on it. She does the web site for us, and every day is just great.

Bring me through a bit of your work as a singer. When did it begin in general for you? And, how did your work performing specifically as a tribute artist develop?

My professional singing career began during my late teens when I left home and went to New England with a band. I just continued on from there eventually performing as a Singing DJ during the eighties and nineties.

During that time I was much in demand as a mobile DJ who sang the voices of not only Neil Diamond but Sinatra, Elvis, Engelbert and a few others.

In the mid-nineties my wife suggested I focus more on the Neil Diamond voice and look. Around that same time, my parents had gone out to Las Vegas and they came back with all sorts of information about celebrity tributes they had seen. It was really encouraging for me because I thought you had to be a perfect look-alike to perform like this. The reality is the look-alikes don’t always perform. They go to meetings and shake hands. To be successful on stage it’s the entire package, from stage presence to the vocal abilities to connecting with the people watching you. And when it works, it’s an amazing thing.

We worked very hard on putting the package together before I debuted the “Tom Sadge As Neil Diamond” act in late 1997. I’ve never looked back.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced that you weren’t expecting? Were there other elements that surprised you along the way? Any crazy or funny stories you might be willing to share?

Oh, there are always challenges and unexpected things that happen. One time I actually stepped off the stage at the Sands. The proper marks were not on the stage and I was blinded by the spotlights. It was a bit scary to feel nothing under my feet but, amazingly, I landed in between the stage and front seats.

Do you find that you have a knack for picking up voices of other people? I know Neil Diamond is the one you keep coming back to… but it seems like you have a very diverse group of people and your impersonations of them all are incredible.

Doing voices has always come easily to me. I’ve always mimicked others and loved entertaining people with this talent.

The first time my wife and I met was during the period where I was singing as others and DJing. That first night she listened to me perform Engelbert Humperdinck, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra and a few others. She later confessed that during the first few weeks of dating she was determined to learn how the “trick microphone” worked because she didn’t believe that any one singer could sound “so much like all those great singers.” We still laugh about that trick microphone.

Neil Diamond, in my opinion, has a different kind of material than many singers and songwriters. Not sure if I can explain it, but if you look at his work in the movie The Jazz Singer… or consider such great songs as “I Am… I Said” or “Forever In Blue Jeans”… it feels not only as if autobiographical for him, but almost biographical in so many ways for all of us. He really seems to connect with the feelings all of us share. The good, the bad, the everyday, and so on. And his lyrics are incredible (“Love on the Rocks” being a terrific example of this). Just a great songwriter. What is it about his material that appeals to you?

I also believe that most of Neil’s compositions are autobiographical. He’s gone on record saying as much, and has called “Brooklyn Roads” the most personal of all his autobiographical material.

But if you research, you’ll find that just about all of his songs have a very personal inspiration. For example “Beautiful Noise” was inspired by a phrase his then very young daughter used to describe the sound of Manhattan traffic far below the Sherry-Netherland’s hotel room where the Diamond family stayed on a regular basis.

I think I enjoy performing Neil’s music because each song does tell a story about a particular time and situation in life which we all seem to experience at some point.

What are some of the most memorable moments you’ve had in performing? And, what are some of the things people have said to you after a show that have been special or memorable for you?

Choosing just one memorable moment isn’t possible for me because there have been so many during my performances.

I’d say the most memorable thing anyone has ever said to me came from Neil Diamond himself during a performance at State College in 2002. I was in the front row and had been performing as him for about 5 years already. I knew he knew who I was and of my work because his band members had seen me perform on at least one occasion, and I’d heard they’d carried the word back to him. Well, during the State College show Neil spotted me, bent over, held the microphone down and allowed me to sing a few bars of “Forever in Blue Jeans,” and then shouted to the audience, “This guy sounds just like me.” I’ll never forget the thrill of hearing his approval in front of 20,000 people from my home state.

I’ve actually had a chance to meet Neil on three different occasions since then, and he’s a very nice guy.

Do you find when speaking to people after a show that they have a certain connection to specific songs or your performance?

Most dedicated Neil fans have a favorite song or two. Often it’s a song that reminds them of a landmark event in their life – falling in love, for example. Sometimes people tell me a Neil song helped them weather a rough patch in their life.

What are some of your favorite songs to perform?

“Sweet Caroline” is a favorite of mine to perform because there is always audience recognition from the first notes and, more importantly, people – even young people – love to sing along with the song and also fill in with the “so good, so good, so good” after I sing those words. It’s a lot of fun.

I also love “America” because it touches the lives of most audience members as well. It makes a great finale song.

Is there a certain period of Neil’s career that you feel more closely associated with?

I enjoy the music from The Jazz Singer and beyond era.

Is it possible to swing into a version of “Mr. Bojangles” (a Jerry Jeff Walker classic that Neil has recorded)? Obviously between the writing he’s done for himself and others, there’s plenty of material to select a set list from. I’m just wondering if there are some favorites of yours that an audience might not be expecting, will be happy to hear, and you can weave them in and out of rotation to change things up every so often.

I normally stick to the Neil classics. That’s what the audience expects.

What kinds of things do you do to keep your performance fresh and exciting for you?

I don’t really need to do much to keep it fresh. Every audience is a new one and that makes it an exciting and new experience every time I perform.

What kinds of differences do you find in audiences? In one respect, I’m wondering about when you may be part of a show and one of five or so tribute artists performing. Also though, you’ve experienced a tremendous range of performing venues, including being on cruise ships and also traveling internationally.

A tribute show with other impersonators usually comes with an audience that is easy to please. After all, there are up to five other impersonators so you don’t carry the whole responsibility of a good show entirely on your shoulders.

The most challenging audiences tend to be an audience made up of mostly of the very young – people in their teens and twenties. Mainly I find that this age is not familiar with the majority of Neil’s hits from 1966 thru the early 80s, and mostly want to hear only the mega-hits such as “Sweet Caroline” and “America.”

If someone asked you for advice in pursuing a musical career, what are some of the things you feel would be important for them to know or do?

Advice for those contemplating a career? Make sure you really want this because there is a lot more hard work behind the scenes, a lot of time on the road, and a lot of rejection before you finally get your career in gear.

Also, I’d say remember who you are and where you came from. All the applause will end someday, so make sure you nurture those in your personal life as well as building a following of fans.

About how many shows do you perform each year? And what can we expect to see from you in the next year or so (and how can people keep track of where you’re performing)?

My schedule can be different from year to year. Sometimes I will be heavily booked for private shows (birthday parties, conventions, etc.) to which the general public is not invited. Other times I may be busy performing for weeks at a time in a production show, and those usually involve about 6 shows per week. So the number of shows I perform each year varies.

For instance, if I have a year where I perform regularly in a production show – which I have done in the past – those six shows each week can be for an average of two weeks out of every month, or roughly about 156 performances during a busy year. And that’s without doing some of my own shows or private dates.

Because the private shows are almost always not advertised, it’s not possible to tell people exactly where they can catch my show. The best thing to do is to visit my site,, because Marion keeps a blog and frequently mentions upcoming public shows.

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Trying to express my gratitude to Tom (and Marion) for all of their help with this project is just next to impossible. We had been taking our time in developing it, when all of a sudden I spotted a potential deadline I hoped to make. Their response? To provide anything and everything I needed to make certain I made my deadline.

They are a terrific couple, and terrific people. I hope you’ll take the time to seek Tom out and catch one of his shows. If you can with a group like Legends in Concert, fantastic. See if you can find a full show from Tom though… I guarantee you will happy you did.

The official web site of Tom Sadge

The Tom Sadge photo gallery at In My Backpack

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at