Call it an unlikely Million Dollar Jersey Quartet.
The unlikely grouping of Tony Orlando with Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and Patti Scialfa of the E Street Band sang backup for Freedom Bremner and Mark Rivera on the Beatles’ classic “With a Little Help from My Friends” Sunday, Oct. 29 at the New Jersey Hall of Fame Class of ’23 induction ceremony. It went down at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
Asbury Park rocker Glen Burtnik was the musical director. About half of the crowd had left as emcee Danny DeVito said farewell after Scialfa was inducted, then the music started. Bremner started singing and Springsteen, Van Zandt and Scialfa were on stage. Orlando then came out and joined the E Streeters. Hall of Famers emerged from backstage and what was left of the crowd rushed to the edge of the stage to get a closer look and snap pics.
The Smithereens, who were inducted in 2019, and basketball star Sue Wicks, one of Sunday’s inductees, were among those who came out from backstage.
“Not in my waking hours,” did Wicks, a former Rutgers University hoops standout, ever imagine that she’d be on stage with Springsteen and Orlando performing a song. “Everyone was so gracious and beautiful, just like all Jersey folks, backstage.”
The moment was Springsteen’s first time performing on a stage since Sept. 3 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. After that show, he postponed E Street Band concerts for the rest of the year toe undergo treatment for peptic ulcer disease.
Inductee Orlando of Union City brought Scialfa, a Deal native, out to the front of the stage after the performance to take a bow.
“Music is powerful,” said Scialfa in her induction speech. “It can inform you. It can resonate back to you — to your heart — who you are, who you’d like to become. I was fortunate to work and meet with so many brilliant musicians and artists and find a piece of that world, a little piece of that world, for myself. I’m so deeply grateful to the many people I have worked with who have reflected back to me the beauty and transformative power of music.”
More:Now on the radio, music and TV star Tony Orlando is going into the NJ Hall of Fame
Springsteen inducted Scialfa, who wore a black top with sparkly skirt pants and silver boots.
“It’s so cool to be here tonight for my baby!” Springsteen said. “I met Patti at the Stone Pony — where else! She was sitting in with the house band, Cats on a Smooth Surface. I heard that voice of hers and I wondered, ‘Who is that girl?’ We went and got cheeseburgers at the Inkwell.”
Springsteen then listed Scialfa’s albums and musical accomplishments.
“If she hadn’t been married to some suck-the-air-out-of-the-room attention whore, they would be much more widely known,” quipped Springsteen about Scialfa’s albums.
Van Zandt, a star of the “The Sopranos,” inducted show creator David Chase, a native of Clifton and North Caldwell.
“What does he want to do? He wants to make movies, the industry he single-handedly made irrelevant (due to the success of ‘The Sopranos’),” Van Zandt said “But that’s the kind of guy he is. Uncompromising, unrelenting, innovative, idealistic, romantic to a fault, and yes, a cynical, self-destructive contrarian. In other words, my kind of guy.”
More:There was a surprise guest at a Monmouth U. symposium on Springsteen — the Boss himself
Orlando said that he’s retiring in 2024. He first hit the charts in 1961 as a 16-year old with “Bless You” and “Halfway to Paradise.” He was inducted by Dionne Warwick and a Clive Davis video message.
“Honest to God, I can never repay you and honest to God I will miss you,” said Orlando to his fans in his speech. He then sang his classic, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”
Giants running back Tiki Barber, entrepreneur Finn Wentworth; ADP head Josh Weston; Newark politician Steve Adubato Sr.; former New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison; statesman George Shultz; sculptor George Segal; librarian Dorothy Porter Wesley were also inducted. Adubato Sr., Edison, Shultz, Segal and Porter Wesley were inducted posthumously.
Anna Diaz-White and Michael Fux were honored as Unsung Heroes.
Gov. Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy participated in the festivities. Performances included “I Will Survive” by Green Brook’s Gloria Gaynor; “Behind the Wall of Sleep” by the Smithereens of Carteret, who were joined Marshall Crenshaw and Graham Maby; “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It),” by Rolling Stones backup singer Lisa Fischer; and Billy Joel’s “The Time to Remember” by Rivera, who plays sax in Joel’s band.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment and Learning Center will open in the spring of 2024, said Hall chairman Jon Hanson. The center was originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.
“It’s long overdue but good things come to those who are patient,” said Hanson from the stage.
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; firstname.lastname@example.org