Long Island is the home (or at least the summer home) of several celebrities — but there’s also a group of locals who, while not recognized as international superstars, are big deals in Nassau and Suffolk homes.
Meet some of the big fish who swim in our relatively small pond. And if you know of people we should add to this list, send suggestions to email@example.com.
Indie/Alternative group Amboy won Newsday's Battle of the Bands 2017 thanks to their radio-ready sound. The Ronkonkoma-based group, consisting of Michael Milillo, Chris Moraitis, Mike White and Mike Brasile, will be the opening act for a still-to-be-named group at the Paramount in Huntington later this year.
Merrick native Buddy Casimano is best known for his time as a backup dancer to Debbie Gibson, who he once beat in a high school talent show at the age of 17. Since then, he has danced in several broadway shows, including "Miss Saigon," "Hercules Live on Broadway" and "That's Christmas."
Casimano now teaches dance and fitness classes in Wantagh and still occasionally performs with Gibson. This Nov. 6, 2013 photo shows Casimano instructing students during a jazz class at Techniques Dance Studio in Wantagh.
Oak & Ash
Pop-rock outfit Oak & Ash is best known as the winner of Newsday's inaugural Battle of the Bands contest in 2016. The group's lead singer, Rich Tuorto, hails from New Hyde Park, and the band recently opened for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden in April.
Michael "Eppy" Epstein
Rockville Centre native and local entrepreneur Michael "Eppy" Epstein built his local fame from the days when he founded the now-defunct music venue "My Father's Place" in Roslyn, a hall that famously hosted performances by icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, U2, The Ramones and (not surprisingly) Billy Joel. My Father's Place was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010; Epstein still brings live music to Long Island, with ongoing shows from My Father's Place Productions currently held at Lighthouse Waterfront Cafe in Glen Cove.
Clifford the giraffe
A current resident at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville, Clifford the giraffe is one of Long Island's better-known animals, standing at 17 feet tall and available for guests to feed.
Family musician Darlene Graham wasn't born on Long Island (she moved here from Canada in her 20s), but she has become a fixture as her concerts for children -- held frequently around LI with her group Shades of Green Band -- are usually heavy draws. Formerly an elementary school music teacher in the Huntington school district (from 2001-07), she's since released two family CDs, "Everybody Dance" and "Big Hugs for Mama."
Singer-songwriter Jeff LeBlanc is a Center Moriches native who has opened for such artists as Boz Scaggs, Chris Isaak, Duncan Sheik, Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw and Luke Bryan.
Musician Danny Kean, a Farmingdale native, started playing piano at the age of 2 despite being blind since birth. He gained attention for his appearance on the first season of Fox's "American Idol," was inducted into the Long Island section of the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2013 and still performs locally on a regular basis.
A Commack native, Atlas may not be a nationally recognized celebrity, but she plays a large number of gigs in the Hamptons throughout the year, including at popular venues and large fundraisers and summer events (she's opened shows in the Hamptons for such artists as Jimmy Buffet and Elvis Costello).
The Good Rats
Since first forming in 1968, this rock band (whose lineup includes Long Island natives) scored national attention and critical praise (Rolling Stone magazine described the band in 1969 as "right behind the Rascals and the Velvet Underground as far as New York groups go"), but have always remained local heroes. The band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008. The Good Rats are still playing local gigs, although original lead singer Peppi Marchello died in July 2013.
(Pictured: The original members of The Good Rats in an undated photo (top, from left to right) and in 2009: Lenny Kotke, Mickey Marchello, John Gatto, the late Peppi Marchello and Joe Franco.)
Ernie's Auto Body jingle singers
Have you caught yourself with the Hicksville body shop's commercial ditty repeating in your head? "Ernie's Auto Body, / He'll get you back on the road real fast. . ." We don't blame you if you do.
The Suffolk County-based band's motto is "country with a kick," and for years they've brought that sound to twang-starved Long Islanders during pub shows, winery appearances, volunteer fire department events and other venues. Music Row may have more of a foothold in the area now, but SixGun gets credit for bringing country to Long Island when country wasn't cool. Here, the band plays at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead on Feb. 23, 2013.
Eddie McGee, "Big Brother"
Eddie McGee of Commack won $500,000 for being the last person standing on the first season of CBS' "Big Brother" in 2000. He went on to appear on "Hollywood Squares," "Law & Order" and "Desperate Housewives," as well as several films.
Montauk's Frank Mundus (1925-2008) was a sports fisherman best known as a shark hunter. He was widely considered the inspiration for the "Quint" character that appeared in the novel and film "Jaws."
Massapequa's Justin Johnes had already found attention on YouTube, where his videos received thousands of views, but made a bigger splash after appearing on the NBC performance reality program "The Voice."
Based and filmed in Hauppauge, "Ghoul-a-Go-Go" is a long-running public access TV show that has achieved local cult classic status. Airing since 2000, it's shown weekly every Saturday on Cablevision Channel 20. With a horror theme, the program features skits, vintage music videos, live musical performances and children's dance segments--and stars hosts, left to right, Vlad Tsepis, Creighton Agogo and The Invisible Man.
Joseph Murena, "American Idol"
Joseph Murena, who grew up in Smithtown, was a season 4 finalist on "American Idol" in 2005. He released his debut album, "After the Storm," in September 2010.
New Life Crisis
The band New Life Crisis (from left, Jeff Allegue, Paul Mahos, and Steve O'Brien) is a popular act on Long Island, especially in the Hamptons during the summer season. The band's music has been used by such TV shows as "Laguna Beach" and "Guiding Light," as well as on the 2001 MTV compilation CD "Party to Go Remixed."
The father of the American suburb began his experiment on Long Island. His assembly line homes gave thousands of World War II veterans a place to live at a fair price in Levittown. His work led to Time magazine naming him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Merrick's Robbie Rosen is best known for appearing on the Fox program "American Idol." Rosen didn't win the competition, but has regularly performed around Long Island ever since.
Greenlawn's Chris Algieri racked up an impressive resume of titles as a professional fighter, including that of ISKA and WKA World Champion (kickboxing) and WBO junior welterweight champion (boxing). His pro boxing career piqued in a losing effort to iconic champion Manny Pacquiao in China in 2014.
Leroy Grumman, a Huntington native, made Long Island a critical part of winning World War II. Grumman's famed company, Grumman Aeronautical Engineering Co., was the workplace for scores of Rosie the Riveters who pieced together warbirds for U.S. forces.
Younger Long Islanders may only know the name Robert Moses from the parkway of the same name. But Moses was one of the most influential architects in New York history whose designs helped keep the city afloat after a devastating Depression.
Gus Scutari, of Syosset, is famous in VFW halls across the North Shore and to generations of young parade participants. The longtime Syosset Memorial Parade coordinator is now in his 90s, has survived a heart attack, and still manages to keep marchers in line like in his Navy days.
Jay Fiedler, of Oceanside, played for five NFL teams from 1994-2005, including the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. In 2015, he was a member of the inaugural class of the Nassau High School Hall of Fame.
The Grucci Family
While the name Grucci is synonymous with fireworks across the globe, on Long Island, it's the name of another successful family business and product of the American dream. Angelo Lanzetta, founder and great-grandfather to Felix Grucci, Sr., started it all in 1850. The family and their business have remained on Long Island since then and are led by a third generation of Gruccis.
Craig "Speedy" Claxton played seven seasons in the NBA for five teams. A native of Hempstead, Claxton played basketball at Hofstra from 1996-2000. In 2013, he returned to Hofstra as an assistant coach.
Joe Satriani of Westbury is a guitar player who was Mick Jagger's lead guitarist in Jagger's first solo tour in 1988, and has also toured with the bands Chickenfoot and Deep Purple.
Levittown's Kevin Covais represented Long Island on season 5 of "American Idol." Nicknamed "Chicken Little," Covais was 16 years old when he burst onto the stage and competed with the likes of Chris Daughtry, Katharine McPhee, and Kellie Pickler.
Theodore Roosevelt impersonator Jim Foote
Nearly a century after President Theodore Roosevelt died, Long Island native Jim Foote has been wowing crowds with his presidential impersonations. Foote has been shouting "Bully!" for the crowds since 1979.
Francis Crick and James Watson
Everyone learns about the DNA double helix in science class. However, you may not know who discovered it unless you took a field trip to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in fourth grade. Scientists Francis Crick and James Watson made the discovery at the Long Island laboratory and published their findings in 1953.
East Islip native DJ Theo (AKA Theo Pisani) is an esteemed remix producer, and a celebrity DJ on the NYC dance circuit, also working in other East Coast cities and across the Atlantic in clubs on the Spanish island Ibiza, known for its night life scene.
Michael DelGuidice of Sound Beach had spent years performing as part of Big Shot, a Long Island-based band that specialized in Billy Joel covers. Billy Joel eventually made DelGuidice a member of his band in 2013. Today, DelGuidice travels the world performing with Joel but also works with Big Shot locally.
John Theissen, a 1989 graduate of MacArthur High School, formed the Wantagh-based nonprofit John Theissen Children's Foundation after a long struggle with a brain tumor that started at age 17. Collecting toys for sick and underprivileged children, the Theissen Foundation also donates recreational and therapeutic equipment.
Joe Valentine, a 1997 graduate of Deer Park High School, pitched for the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers during his Major League Baseball career, as well as playing twice for the Long Island Ducks. Valentine currently works with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization that promotes LGBT awareness at colleges and high schools -- work inspired by his upbringing by two women.
Quackerjack, the mascot for the Long Island Ducks, makes trips to Central Islip for home games worthwhile regardless of the final score.
Kim Sozzi, a 1994 graduate of Half Hollow Hills East, is best known her career as a dance music vocalist, with such Billboard Top 10-charting tracks as "Secret Love," "How Did You Know" and "Feel Your Love."