Where did the baby name Shondell come from in 1968?

The Tommy James and the Shondells single "I Think We're Alone Now" (1967)
Tommy James and the Shondells single

The unisex baby name Shondell first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the late 1960s:

  • 1971: 22 baby girls and 12 baby boys named Shondell
  • 1970: 13 baby girls and 8 baby boys named Shondell
  • 1969: 15 baby girls and 5 baby boys [debut] named Shondell
  • 1968: 7 baby girls [debut] named Shondell
  • 1967: unlisted

In fact, lots of Shondell-like names (such as Shondel, Shandell, Shandel, Shawndell, Shawndel, and Chandelle) debuted in the late ’60s.

What was the inspiration?

Rock band Tommy James and the Shondells. Their biggest hits — which include “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” and “Crimson and Clover” — came out during the last half of the 1960s.

The band name was coined by lead singer Tommy James (born Thomas Jackson). He’d borrowed “Shondell” from the name of a solo singer he admired, Troy Shondell.

Troy Shondell (born Gary Schelton) had this to say about his stage name:

I didn’t want to be associated with all the tracks that Mercury still hadn’t released on me so I changed Shelton to Shondell, but there was already a Chantels; and Troy Donahue was a popular actor. I figured I’d might as well go with the best.

Interesting that he was inspired in part by The Chantels, as they had influenced the baby name charts in a similar way a decade earlier.

Which name do you like better, Chantel or Shondell?


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