By GREGORY ZELLER //
If you’re not too busy New Year’s Eve, maybe you’d like to hang out with Billy Joel, LL Cool J and Joan Jett.
Your seat is reserved, with the Long Island Music Hall of Fame hitting the pause button on its biannual induction ceremonies and presenting instead “The Long Island Music Hall of Fame Best of the Awards Galas,” a 90-minute highlight real of past induction ceremonies hosted by guitar master Randy Jackson, longtime frontman for heavy metal mainstay Zebra.
The LIMHOF has welcomed new members every other year since 2006, opening its doors to dozens of standout musicians with Long Island connections. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still rewriting live-entertainment protocols, the Melville-based organization has opted to forego a 2020 induction ceremony and instead relive the highlights of induction galas past – a clip show assembling the best speeches, performances and special moments from the seven ceremonies held since 2006.
Jackson – a Louisiana-born guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist – rocked with Zebra when they opened for Aerosmith, Journey, ZZ Top, REO Speedwagon and other circa-1980s major-leaguers, and also toured with Jefferson Airplane.
An inductee of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, he said the opportunity to host the “Best of the Awards Gala” special – featuring past moments with Joel, Cool J and Jett, plus Public Enemy, Lou Reed, Little Anthony, Twisted Sister, Taylor Dayne and many others – was an unexpected honor.
“I was very surprised and flattered to be asked to host,” Jackson said Wednesday. “The talent highlighted in this show far exceeds any other ‘regional’ Hall of Fame, in both diversity and worldwide appeal.
“Back in 2006, I was asked to induct one of my idols, George Gershwin, into the first class of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame,” the rocker added. “It is an honor to be back again to help present this retrospective.”
Presented by Jovia Financial Credit Union, the “Long Island Music Hall of Fame Best of the Awards Gala” TV special is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Dec. 31 on News 12 Plus (Optimum Channel 61) and Verizon Channel 530, while simultaneously streaming on News 12 Long Island’s Facebook Live platform.
“We are thrilled to present many highlights from our past induction ceremonies in this 90-minute presentation,” Long Island Music Hall of Fame Chairman Ernie Canadeo said in a statement. “It is a testament to Long Island’s diverse musical heritage with appearances and performances by so many world-renowned rock, folk, jazz, blues, hip-hop and classical artists.
“This New Year’s Eve presentation represents a finale to 2020 and a new beginning to live events in the new year.”