Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, The Smithereens, George R.R. Martin, Jason Alexander Shine at Star-Studded NJ Hall of Fame Inductions

Jon Bon Jovi may have grown up with the music of Bruce Springsteen, but deep down he always wanted to be an Asbury Juke.

“Without Southside Johnny there will not have been a Jon Bon Jovi,” said the rocker, who was on hand to induct his friend Southside Johnny Lyon into the New Jersey Hall of Fame at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday night (Oct. 27).

 

Photo by: Mike Roszkowski

“Those guys made Asbury Park, New Jersey a place where the impossible seemed  possible,” he said. “Coming to Asbury Park was like going to church, and seeing a Southside Johnny show was like witnessing a tsunami of sound, lead by a singer that delivered every song like it would be the last one he’d ever sing.”

Bon Jovi spoke reverently of his friendship with Lyon, recalling how he first produced demos with his early band, The Rest, calling him a “mentor, a friend, a bad influence and sometimes a crazy son of a bitch.”

Accepting his award, Lyon told the crowd that when he was starting out it was difficult for a New Jersey band to be accepted anywhere, including New York and Philadelphia. Even “Tonight Show” host cracked jokes about the Garden State, and Lyon  had a “ax to grind.”

“I wanted to prove that New Jersey was as good as any state as far as music was concerned,” he said. “And that made me stronger, more aggressive, and work my ass off. So thank you, New Jersey.”

Lyon and Bon Jovi–backed by the Kings of Suburbia–then performed a spirited version of “I Don’t Want to Go Home.”

E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent was on hand to induct Carteret’s The Smithereens into the Hall, saying he discovered the group as a fan watching the Uncle Floyd Show. Tallent spoke with admiration of how the band is soldiering on after the death of front man Pat DiNizio. “Lesser bands would have thrown in the Rock and Roll towel,” he said.

Smithereens guitarist Jim Babjak read letters from DiNizio’s  daughter, Liza, and mother, who said her son would have been “thrilled and honored” to be inducted with bandmates Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken.

The Smithereens closed the show performing the hits “Blood and Roses,” “A Girl Like You” and a cover of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” with vocalists Marshall Crenshaw and Robin Wilson of The Gin Blossoms.

Other highlights included a speech by Martha Stewart, inducted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recalled babysitting for the children of Yankees Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle; Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin regaling the audience with tales of writing fictional stories about monsters, his battling pet turtles and imagining faraway lands watching the “big ships” sail away as a child in Bayonne; and “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander’s hilarious, Jersey-centric speech covering the smells of Elizabeth, his first job at Spencers, and joking about following Martin (“He has an Emmy… I lost eight times,” cracked Alexander.).

Additional honors went to Olympic gymnast and “Dancing With the Stars” champion Laurie Hernandez, the youngest person to be inducted into the Hall; restaurateur, musician and philanthropist Tim McLoone, who was inducted by Darlene Love; and a posthumous honor for “Jaws” author Peter Benchley.

Whoopi Goldberg was on hand to induct celebrity photographer Timothy White and Love opened the show with Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High” and Steve Van Zandt’s “Among The Believers.”

The Hall will be moving to the American Dream retail and amusement center at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, officials said.

Watch Bon Jovi induct Southside (video courtesy of Howie Chaz)

Watch Southside and Bon Jovi Perform:

Watch Garry Tallent induct The Smithereens:

Watch Jason Alexander’s hilarious acceptance speech:

Watch Michele Amabile on the red carpet with Jim Babjak:

1071 The Boss mid-day host with George R.R. Martin on the red carpet:

1071 The Boss mid-day host Michele Amabile with Major League Star and Toms River native Todd Frazier:

1071 The Boss mid-day host Michele Amabile with legend Darlene Love:

 

1071 The Boss mid-day host Michele Amabile asks Harry Carson what the Giants need to do this season: