The brisk weather couldn’t dampen the energy coming off the street in Huntington when celebrities walked the red carpet at The Paramount for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Thursday night. New York Avenue lit up like Hollywood Boulevard as limos pulled up one-by-one dispensing honorees such as members of Billy Joel’s Band, Debbie Gibson, rapper Kurtis Blow, record producer Steve Thompson and Harry Chapin Award recipient rapper DMC.
BILLY JOEL BAND
The Billy Joel Band was reunited and excited to hit the stage together after decades apart. “We rehearsed and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” said saxophonist Richie Cannata. “It’s pretty insane.”
Drummer Liberty DeVitto was confident about the performance. “I think the magic is still there,” he said. “They say you can’t go home anymore but here we are.”
Peggy Stegmeyer, mother of the late bassist Doug Stegmeyer, feels her son would have reveled in the moment.
“Doug would have been proud of the friends he had and how far they’ve come,” she said. “I have a message for all the mothers who have kids with long hair playing music in the garage -- be patient! You don’t know how they are going to work out.”
Gibson arrived after spending the afternoon shopping at the Walt Whitman Shops with her boyfriend.
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW
“I was like, ‘Wow! This is not the mall I grew up with,’ ” she said surprised at all the new renovations.
In regard to new music, Gibson is ready to start releasing material soon.
“I’m sitting on songs that I’ve been waiting to release for years. I didn’t want to put out anything meaningless and mediocre,” she said. “I wanted to wait until I felt like I did when those songs from the first album came. It’s that moment again for me and it’s exciting.”
Thrilled to be inducted when she was “still young,” Gibson felt very connected to other members of the Class of 2014.
“I’m in amazing company,” she said. “The late great Doug Stegmeyer actually played on some of my records at my home studio in Lloyd Neck for many years. Ron Delsener promoted concerts of mine. Everyone knows and loves Clive Davis.”
Gibson was very heartfelt about returning to her roots.
“Long Island and the arts shaped so much of who I am and why I do what I do,” she said. “To be back here ... I’m just overwhelmed. I’ve cried three times today.”
Blow, who just got back from a world tour, was all smiles when he started thinking about his days on Long Island.
“Roosevelt was a big spot for me performing back in the day,” he said. “I love it here -- lots of memories.”
Currently, he’s working on a new album called “Legends of Hip-Hop” with Kid ‘N Play, Grandmaster Melle Mel and his 27 year-old son Kurtis Blow Jr. “He’s even better than me!” he declared.
Thompson, who lived in Centerport from 1986 to 2004, recalled when he brought Guns N’ Roses to Long Island while he was mixing their legendary debut album, “Appetite For Destruction.”
“I had Slash and Axl Rose out to my house in Centerport,” he said. “They got a good taste of Long Island and they loved it.”
Thompson was inducted by his buddy, David Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar, who he hugged on the red carpet.
“This is the person I did my first production with on the Belouis Some project in 1984,” Thompson said. “David Bowie is the reason I got into this business. I got to work with David because of Carlos. I love this guy!”
When asked if he’s heard from Bowie, who has been out of the public eye for the last 10 years, Alomar said, “We speak on occasion. He’s doing just fine. I love his new album (“The Next Day”). David is doing his own thing in a way that’s typically David. He’s always changing the playing field and rightfully so.”
DMC, who was receiving Harry Chapin Award, spoke of how much Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle” meant to him.
“When I was a little kid, for some reason it was my favorite song,” said DMC, who was set to perform a new version of the tune ("Just Like Me") with Chapin’s daughter Jen. “When I found out I was adopted, it all started to make sense.”
The rapper said he always had different tastes from the guys he grew up with.
“All my friends were into Michael Jackson and James Brown wearing high heels and Afros,” he said. “I didn’t care anything about that. For me it was always about Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Doobie Brothers, Bob Dylan and John Fogerty.”