It's been five years since Vanilla Fudge was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. But the inventive 1960s rock band has no plaque at the hall -- because there is no hall.
That's why lead guitarist Vince Martell drove Thursday to the hall of fame's future home in Port Jefferson from his house in Cherry Hill, N.J. He had broken rock star tradition, rising before dawn to watch Town of Brookhaven officials turn over a century-old building to hall organizers, who will create a museum there.
"I had to get up early to get here, but this is beautiful," Martell said of the Richardsonian Romanesque structure at Main and East Main streets that formerly housed the First National Bank of Port Jefferson. "I can't wait for them to fill it up."
Thursday's lease-signing ceremony marked the end of a long, frustrating search by hall of fame organizers, who since 2006 have inducted 73 members -- including Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, The Ramones, Mariah Carey, Guy Lombardo and Beverly Sills -- while looking for a home.
The nonprofit hall will lease the building from the town for at least 15 years for a token one-time rent payment of $10.
The vacant building, which over the years also has been a hotel and town tax office, needs extensive renovations.
"The great musicians of Long Island and the rich musical history of Long Island will finally have a home," said hall of fame chairman James Faith, pumping his fist as he addressed a crowd outside the building. "It's about time, Long Island. This is it."
Faith said after the ceremony that he didn't know when the museum will open. The hall's board is working to raise as much as $1.5 million for renovations, he said.
Besides Martell, inductees at the ceremony included brothers Peppi and Mickey Marchello of The Good Rats, disc jockey Denis McNamara, and Carole Demas and Paula Janis, the stars of the 1970s children's TV show "The Magic Garden."
Demas and Janis, both 71, sang their tune, "The Hello Song," to help christen the hall.
Janis noted that their show debuted on WPIX / 11 "a long, long time ago."
"You know how long ago it was when you're in a museum," Janis said.