Tommy James and the Shondells: Rotary Club concert aims to ‘End Polio Now’

After half a century of touring the country and recording music, Tommy James will be making a stop in Ridgefield next Friday night.

The rock producer and songwriter will be performing with his band, the Shondells, at the Ridgefield Playhouse April 13 to help raise money for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s End Polio Now campaign.

“The polio virus is spread person to person, typically through contaminated water. Polio mainly affects children under age 5,” the Gates Foundation said in a press release. “It can attack the nervous system, and lead to paralysis. There is no cure, but polio is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.”

The Rotary Foundation has been worldwide leader in fighting polio for more than 50 years and the proceeds of this concert will go to eliminate it.

With the support of governments and other organizations, the Gates Foundation and Rotary International have helped vaccinate 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.let

“Polio is on the verge of becoming only the second human disease (after smallpox) ever to be eradicated,” the release added. “Bill Gates said ending polio would be one of the world’s greatest achievements.”

The Gates Foundation has been working in association with Rotary International, whose Ridgefield chapter helped woo James to town.

James has sold over 100 million records worldwide and he is currently in the studio working on a new album. He rose to fame in the mid-60s with his hit song Hanky Panky.

The End Polio Now concert producer is Ridgefield resident Brad Joblin, who first produced concerts with Tommy James in 1974, when he was 19 years old.  

“It’s not often you go to a concert and every song the band plays is a hit record,” Joblin said.  

Tommy James has 23 gold records, including hits Crimson and Clover, I Think We’re Alone Now, Crystal Blue Persuasion, and Mony Mony. Opening the show will be Alive ’N Kickin’ in a rare reunion performance with Tommy James. Its 1970 No. 1 hit Tighter and Tighter was written and produced by Tommy James.

Doors are slated to open at 7 p.m. The concert starts at 8 p.m.

“We’re very lucky to have Tommy help promote this great initiative,” Joblin added.

“Last year, Rotary International made a commitment to raise $50 million per year over the next three years, and the Gates Foundation pledged a 2-to-1 match. It’s something to marvel at,” said Robert Herber, president of the Ridgefield Rotary. “This expanded agreement will translate into $450 million for polio eradication activities, including disease surveillance, responses to any outbreaks, and the vaccination of more than 400 million children annually.”

Sounds of the 60s

James, who debuted his own show, Gettin’ Together with Tommy James, on  Sirius XM Radio’s Channel 6 this winter, was recently awarded by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) for having his music played more than 21 million times on air.

A member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, James has also been awarded the Pittsburgh Legend Award.

He’s the author of the book Me, the Mob, and the Music, which is on Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Best Music Memoirs List and is being made into a Hollywood film.

Despite 51 years in the business, James still tours, and he is currently in the studio working on a new album.

He rose to fame in the mid-60s with his hit song Hanky Panky.

The song, recorded in 1964, didn’t find its audience immediately but was rediscovered a few years later — in time for James and the Shondells to earn an invitation to the legendary Woodstock concert in 1968, a gig the band turned down.

Later on, he recorded another major hit, Mony Mony, which cemented his status in the business.

“Many artists have and continue to cover his songs such as Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Carlos Santana, Kelly Clarkson, Cher, Tom Jones, Dolly Parton, and even the Boston Pops,” Carol Ross, James’s longtime manager, told The Press. “His music is heard in 47 films to date, TV shows such as Breaking Bad, The Simpsons, The Goldbergs, and Criminal Minds, along with numerous commercials.”

Community support

Addessi Jewelers is one of 30 local companies and individuals lending its support to the charity performance April 13.

“We are delighted to be sponsoring this event for such an important cause. Nothing moves me more than bringing about change through community events and action. … I love seeing people that I’ve lived and worked with for so many years come together for a mutual supportive cause,” said Wayne Addessi.

Other sponsors include Fairfield County Bank, RVNA, Ridgefield Supply Co., Jesse Lee Church, Liz and Steven Goldstone, Alison and Jon Stockel, and Anita and Nick Donofrio.

For a night of music, go to or call 203-438-5735.

To learn more about Ridgefield Rotary, its mission, people and upcoming events, visit

To learn more about James and his band: