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Many of us who have lived or were born and raised in New Jersey proudly carry a Jersey moniker of a Jersey Guy or a Jersey Girl. In order to boast of such royalty you need to have lived a significant amount of time here in the Garden State.

This Week in Music History
Mike Coppola
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There’s one person who can claim exemption to living or being born in New Jersey while still allowed to officially carry the Jersey Guy Card and that person is Gary U.S. Bonds. He gets an exemption because he has been a part of the Jersey music scene for over 40 years. He has lent his powerful voice and entertained hundreds of thousands of fans while raising millions of dollars for New Jersey based charities. You’d be very hard pressed to find another entertainer not from New Jersey who has given more of himself to the well being of the people of New Jersey.

Gary U.S. Bonds will be celebrating a birthday June 6th, his 83rd. Most gentlemen his age are quietly enjoying their well spent years. Not Gary. Gary’s a Rock n Roll icon who has enjoyed a couple of surges of stardom throughout his historic music career. It was in the 60’s when his big hit New Orleans led to a number one hit with Quarter to Three. Touring with legends Sam Cooke and B.B. King he was taught by Sam Cooke to use his dynamic personality on stage instead of just standing there and performing. Sam Cooke’s advice paid off very well.

Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven Stevie Van Zandt
ARCHIVE 2016: Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen & Stevie Van Zandt perform in LA (by Kevin Winter, Getty Images)
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He serves as honorary New Jerseyan after Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Van Zandt in a chance meeting in 1980 led to not only a great friendship but solid music collaboration with his album Dedication and big hits with This Little Girl is Mine, Out of Work, Jolie Blon and more

Big Joe Henry
Big Joe Henry
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I met Gary years ago at Bobby Bandiera’s Hope Concert held at The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. Each year of the Hope Concert, a charity concert that ran for ten years and raised millions for New Jersey based charities, Gary, Southside Johnny and I shared Bobby Bandiera’s dressing room. I hosted the concert and we’d have a few beverages and the stories would start flowing. Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce would pop in and the camaraderie was so strong and the stories were both historical and hysterical. I always enjoyed those times, great conversations and the music stories made you feel that you were in the middle of music history. Gary and I became fast friends because of his genuine kindness, sense of humor and of course love of music.

He was kind enough to donate his time to my Big Joe Holiday Extravaganza for Jersey Kids and we’d see each other many times throughout the summer at different music events. Gary called me up and asked me to host his 75th birthday party bash at B.B. Kings in New York. It was an honor to be among so many legends paying tribute to Gary. Gary continues to perform here in Jersey, including a performance last weekend. If you get a chance see a rock and roll legend crank out his hits. You’ll have a great time.

Big Joe Henry - Townsquare Media
Big Joe Henry - Townsquare Media
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In honor of his birthday I wanted to post the video and interview from my TV show with Gary on The Big Joe Henry Variety Show. He was awesome and such a pleasure to interview. Check out the interview above. Thanks Gary and happy birthday!

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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