Alvin Toney, an influential music producer and manager, was remembered for his generosity in mentoring hip-hop recording artists and also for working with young athletes as a longtime youth football coach in his Wyandanch hometown and beyond.
"He was a great guy who gave back to the community," said DuWayne Gregory, a Babylon Town Board member who formerly served as presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature before stepping down last year.
Gregory said he and Toney "go way back," recalling their days as children playing PAL football in Wyandanch. As an adult, Gregory said, Toney would coach boys in that league. Toney "believed in kids [and] gave them plenty of opportunities," Gregory said.
"He had six years undefeated as a coach," Gregory said of Toney. "There are several kids that have gone through his program that have gotten football scholarships in college. ... He was a special person."
Toney died suddenly April 8 at his Wyandanch home, said Renee Foster, of Renegade Public Relations. He was 54.
Toney was quoted in a November 1997 Newsday article as he watched a local high school football game that featured a nephew and other players he once coached: "Oh, this is a great feeling of satisfaction. It's really something to see kids you started in football rise to this level. I had those three kids when they were 7 and 8 years old. Even back then, you could see they were going to be a special group when they got to high school."
The story noted Toney did more than introduce football to young players. "When they get older, I help them get summer jobs, I talk to them, I try to set them on the right path," he said.
Rakim, an acclaimed rap artist and record producer, said in a statement about his friend Toney: "Every neighborhood needs an Alvin Toney. We grew up a block apart and from our days on the PAL football team through the launch of my career, and the 30 years since, he was the consummate connector, mediator and the greatest of friends. He’ll always remain a Long Island icon."
Toney mentored others in the entertainment field.
"He was a music legend," said Foster, who is also director of communications for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx. She cited Toney's discovery of Long Island rapper Craig Mack. Toney produced Mack's 1994 platinum hit "Flava In Ya Ear," which was nominated for a Grammy Award. Mack died in 2018.
Foster, in a statement, said of Toney: "His remarkable contributions to his community and to the sports and entertainment fields, especially hip-hop culture, cannot be underestimated. He was a trusted adviser, and a champion to his community who put his compassion into action on behalf of the residents of Wyandanch, Wheatley Heights, Amityville, Central Islip and Brentwood."
Following a viewing Friday evening, a reception was scheduled for the Bisou Event Space at 132 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, from 6 until 10 p.m.
A funeral is planned for Saturday at the In the Word Ministries Church in West Babylon, but capacity is restricted due to COVID-19 protocols.
However, the Town of Babylon has granted the Toney family use of a municipal parking lot at 18th Street and Garden City Avenue in Wyandanch Saturday starting at 7 p.m. for the Alvin Toney Friends & Family Drive-In Movie Night. There will be a preview screening of a short documentary film by Alvin Toney’s Lost City Productions, among his final works in progress.
Said Gregory: "The thought was, there’s going to be a lot of people wanting to go the funeral, but because of COVID restrictions, that would not be allowed. But the family wanted to give the community an opportunity to show their respect and share their grief … [they] wanted to show part of this documentary Alvin had worked on."
Interment will be at Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum in Pinelawn.