The inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame this year included Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Gloria Gaynor, The Four Seasons, and the E Street Band and The Sopranos‘ own Steven Van Zandt. At the ceremony in Asbury Park–hosted by West Orange resident Whoopi Goldberg–Bruce Springsteen put in an appearance to induct Little Stevie, his longtime partner-in-crime, into the Hall.
“Though born in Boston, Massachusetts, there is no pure distillation of the Jersey ethos than Little Steven Van Zandt,” Springsteen said. “Roaring into New Jersey at seven years old, baptized at 13 in the Holy Spirit of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the Stones on Hollywood Palace, Steve’s vocation–rock & roll–chose him early.”
“One look at Steve, I knew we both drunk the same Kool-Aid,” Springsteen continued. “This all culminated in a brotherhood in the E Street Band. Steve served as playing, singing, producing as my irreplaceable lieutenant and our lifetime friendship.” He also called Van Zandt “one of the greatest living white soul performers we have” and “the sole creator of the male babushka.”
“We did the impossible. We made New Jersey hip,” Van Zandt observed.
The two men subsequently sang together, performing “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” a song Van Zandt wrote in 1976 for his former band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which also featured other future members of the E Street Band like Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg, and more. The full assembly of awardees and presenters joined them onstage.
In other news, Debbie Harry recalled her New Jersey upbringing during her acceptance speech, mainly the fact that she yearned to lave New Jersey the majority of the time she lived there. However, she did note: “I really hate to miss tomato season in New Jersey.” Gloria Gaynor sang the song one might expect her to sing: “I Will Survive.” Other inductees included “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, Harlan Coben, Anna Quindlen, and Meryl Streep (who could not make the ceremony because she was filming the second season of Big Little Lies).
Watch footage of Springsteen and Van Zandt’s performance below.