Sunday 15 September 2019

Springsteen escorts Van Zandt into New Jersey Hall of Fame

The Boss made a surprise appearance at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall.

Steven Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen
Steven Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen

By Wayne Parry

Oh what a night: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons have been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, but it was Bruce Springsteen who stole what could have been Meryl Streep’s show.

The Boss made a surprise appearance at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall to introduce his long-time friend and guitarist Steven Van Zandt into the hall.

Springsteen himself was admitted a decade earlier.

The two joined forces onstage and played I Don’t Want To Go Home, trading vocals and eventually welcoming the entire class of inductees — and many family members — onstage to close the show.

“We did the impossible: we made New Jersey hip,” said Van Zandt.

Steven Van Zandt thanks the audience

Referring to his surprising second career as an actor in the hit HBO series The Sopranos, in which he played mobster Silvio Dante, Van Zandt quipped: “I had the experience of witnessing New Jersey become fashionable twice in one lifetime. Thank you, New Jersey, you have been very, very good to me.”

Springsteen introduced the erratically clothed Van Zandt as “the only man I know besides Hugh Hefner who has figured out how to spend his whole life in his pyjamas. Though born in Boston, Massachusetts, there is no purer distillation of the Jersey ethos than Little Stevie Van Zandt”.

Debbie Harry walks the red carpet

Meryl Streep who was named to the hall in its first year in 2008 but has yet to appear at an induction ceremony, had to miss it again due to a production conflict with her hit HBO series Big Little Lies. Because of that, she has not yet officially entered the New Jersey hall.

Comedian and actor Joe Piscopo, who introduced former Mets and Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, said the event was “so New Jersey that I had to pay a toll to get in”.

Other performers getting the nod included Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry, who said that while on tour, she gets sad if she misses tomato-ripening season in New Jersey, and that she has long wanted to name an album Jersey Tomato, but never did.

Disco queen Gloria Gaynor turned the hall into a giant dance party as audience members leapt from their seats and boogied to her hit I Will Survive.

Gloria Gaynor sings I Will Survive

Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons bandmates Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long were also inducted, along with astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Olympic football gold medallist Carli Lloyd, author Harlan Coben, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen, and TV’s Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro.

PA Media

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