Long Island has inspired so many musicians over the years that the region established the Long Island Music Hall of Fame that has inducted dozens of music artists since 2006.
And while LI’s many music makers have created tunes spanning a broad spectrum of genres, there are but a handful that stand out from the pack.
These are the five greatest musicians from Long Island.
Carey during a concert of her Caution World Tour at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 14, 2019. (Photo by Filipe Vicente / Setor VIP)
Only the Beatles have had more No. 1 hits than this Huntington native, who has the most chart-toppers — 18 — for a solo artist. Since her 1990 self-titled debut album she has also spent the most weeks at No. 1 than any other artist. The latest addition to her long list of accolades is the Guinness Book of World Records recently certifying “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the highest charting holiday song. There’s certainly no doubt that Carey has cemented her place in the annals of pop music history.
Steve Vai on tour in Asia last year (Photo by Ferdie ArQuero.)
This Carle Place native is one of the guitar world’s most influential figures. The industry has commemorated his contributions in the form of an Ibanez signature guitar with some of the models even utilizing Vai’s trademark DiMarzio pickups and an EDGE tremolo system. Guitar World magazine voted him 10th Greatest Guitarist in 2015. The three-time Grammy winner has played with Frank Zappa, Spinal Tap, Ozzy Osbourne, and many more in addition to establishing himself as a solo artist.
“Piano Man” Billy Joel bids Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum farewell on Aug. 4, 2015.
If selling more records than Michael Jackson or Madonna doesn’t get you on this list, then we don’t know what will. To add to this staggering feat, the Hicksville native and Centre Island resident has also enjoyed a five-year residency at Madison Square Garden, playing more than 110 mostly sold out shows. Classics such as Piano Man, She’s Always a Woman, and We Didn’t Start The Time have proven timeless. There’s simply no other hit maker still active in the business that’s anywhere close to achieving what Joel achieved.
Iconic Rap Vet Rakim (Photo: Manny Faces / Birthplace Magazine)
When you’re simply known as The God among your fans and peers you must have done something right. The Wyandanch native and his long-time collaborator Eric B. changed the game of hip hop with the release of Paid in Full back in 1987. So much so that The Source magazine voted him No. 1 on its list of 50 Top Lyricists of All Time and MTV ranked him No. 4 on its list of Greatest MCs of All Time.
L to R: Lou Reed in his later years and in his Freeport High School yearbook photo.
While Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground may not have the industry stats to back up inclusion in this list, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more influential figure in the music industry. A famous anecdote attributed to Lou Reed is that the first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years but everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band. And while this claim is an exaggeration, there’s no denying Reed’s influence on the bands that have followed in the footsteps. U2’s Bono has even claimed that every song they’ve ever written was influenced by Reed, which is high praise coming from the frontman of one of the world’s biggest rock bands.