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Long Island music hall of fame is ‘not just a Billy Joel museum,’ founders say

As far as New York’s mainstream cultural institutions go, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, or LIMEHOF, has flown under the radar.

However, LIMEHOF’s founders expect that to change as new visitors flock to its newest exhibit: “Billy Joel: My Life, A Piano Man’s Journey.”

The show features objects from throughout the singer’s life, including memorabilia, awards and of course instruments — including a grand piano that turns slowly on a revolving stage.

“When you say you have the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, the first thing people say to you is ‘What is it, a Billy Joel museum?’” said Kevin O’Callaghan, the hall of fame’s creative director and designer of the exhibit.

But he said there’s so much more to Long Island, and to the museum, than Billy Joel. He noted the museum has more than 120 inductees.

And yet … he gets the preoccupation with one of Long Island’s favorite sons.

“Billy Joel is someone everybody seems to have a story about,” O’Callaghan said. “Everybody ran into him at the gas station. Everybody ran into him at the bagel shop. So to do a Billy Joel show was a no-brainer.”

LIMEHOF was founded in 2004 as an online museum, but opened a physical location last year in a commercial cul-de-sac in Stony Brook, New York.

Its first exhibit was dedicated to legendary Long Island rock clubs of yesteryear, a list O’Callaghan said includes venues like Hammerheads, Rum Bottoms and the Oak Beach Inn.

“There is no area in the world that has created as much music talent than Long Island,” said LIMEHOF Chairman Ernie Canadeo. “I challenge anyone.”

LIMEHOF’s honorees include acts from beyond Nassau and Suffolk counties, including acts traditionally associated with the boroughs of New York City, including Run-DMC, Simon and Garfunkel, and Richie Havens. (edited)

“From the beginning, we determined that Long Island, geographically, is from Kings County all the way to Montauk, and that’s how we represent it,” Canadeo said.

He said about half of the museum’s current inductees hail from Nassau and Suffolk counties, while the other half hail from Brooklyn and Queens.

“Hip-hop really developed from Long Island,” Canadeo said. “And the Bronx, of course, but from Long Island.”

When asked whether iconic Brooklyn rappers such as Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls would be inducted into LIMEHOF, Canadeo said “we’ll see.”

In the meantime, he said, the Billy Joel exhibit has proven wildly successful and has sold thousands of tickets in less than a month since its opening.

“This is the largest tourist attraction Long Island has ever seen,” Canadeo said.

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