Billy Joel credits his band, which was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Thursday night, with helping put "The Long Island Sound" on the map.
"After 'The Stranger' was released, people began to recognize that the 'Long Island Sound' wasn't just a body of water," Joel said in a statement to the Hall of Fame to honor the Billy Joel Band -- saxophonist Richie Cannata, drummer Liberty DeVitto, guitarist Russell Javors and bassist Doug Stegmeyer.
However, this year's class of inductees showed how truly wide-ranging the area's music scene is, as artists and executives from across the musical spectrum were celebrated.
Few areas can boast talent as eclectic as rapper Kurtis Blow, record label exec Clive Davis, concert promoter Ron Delsener, singer-actress Debbie Gibson, songwriter Gerry Goffin, and producer Steve Thompson, as well as the Billy Joel Band.
To punctuate the diversity, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Hall of Fame inductee and the year's Harry Chapin Award winner, performed "Just Like Me," a hip-hop/folk/metal mash-up of "Cat's in the Cradle," with Chapin's daughter, Jen. "I receive this award for everyone who tries to make a change in the world -- that's what Harry means to me," DMC said in his acceptance speech.
The red carpet matched that eclectic mood as well. Moments after Blow was rapping on the red carpet, Gibson was singing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" as a tribute to Patti LuPone, who was originally set to be inducted this year but was unable to attend the event due to her work schedule.
There were emotional moments as well. 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 was thrilled to return to her roots and even made a confession, saying that she was really only 12 when she entered Newsday's teen talent contest. "The only time I used a fake ID was to sing," she said. "I just wanted my songs to be out in the world."
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In addition to welcoming its newest members, the Hall of Fame also announced that it planned to build its museum in Wyandanch, becoming a centerpiece of the Wyandanch Rising project and a high-profile role in what Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said could be "a great Renaissance" for the area. "It will become a destination for Suffolk County residents and visitors throughout the metropolitan region," Bellone said. They even unveiled a new Long Island Rail Road sign, renaming the Wyandanch stop to the "Wyandanch -- Long Island Music Hall of Fame" stop.
The anticipation for the reunion of the Billy Joel Band, who were set to play together for the first time since 1989, was high. "We rehearsed and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up," Cannata said. "It's pretty insane."
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."
With David J. Criblez