Last night was the beginning of the end of another wonderful summer on Point Pleasant Beach. Sure, it’ll formally end tonight with a fireworks display. But the culmination of another summer really happens with the Finals of the Big Joe Jersey Talent Show. Big Joe, who dubs himself as the only disc jockey big enough to be visible from outer space, was up on stage last night introducing amateur talent form all over the Great Garden State to compete in front of a panel of celebrity judges. Any idea who the smiling judge in the hat is?
Why that’s Gene Cornish, of course. What? You mean you don’t know who Gene Cornish is? Well after this you will. Let me give you a hint. Ever here of Steven Van Zandt? That’s Little Stevie, of Bruce Springsteen’s “E Street Band”, a Jersey Shore musician at the core. (You may also be familiar with Little Stevie in his role as Silvio on The Sopranos, another iconic Jersey show biz undertaking.) Turns out Little Stevie was a huge fan of a ’60s rock n’ roll band called The Rascals (who debuted in 1965 as The Young Rascals), of which Gene Cornish happens to be a founding member. Us boomers happen to associate Felix Cavaliere’s name with the band, but Cornish was the brilliant guitarist who helped give the band its signature sound. Here’s Cornish on stage two years ago, showing he can still handle the guitar licks from their first big hit, “Good Lovin'”.
I hadn’t realized back in the day that Good Lovin’ wasn’t an original Rascals hit, but was recorded a year earlier in 1965 by The Olympics – absent Cornish’s slick guitar, naturally.
Steven Van Zandt almost single-handedly campaigned to have Cornish and The Rascals inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and gave their induction speech in 1997.