Concert raises $112,000 for slain officer's family

Asbury Park Press, 1998-02-01, by: Wayne Perry
The greatest roster of home-grown rock 'n' roll talent ever assembled under one roof re-created more than 20 years of Jersey Shore rock memories last night, as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and a host of others gave a concert that raised more than $112,000 for the family of a murdered Long Branch police sergeant.

The concert, titled "Jon Bon Jovi and Friends Come Together," was held at the Count Basie Theatre in honor of Sgt. Patrick King, who was killed Nov. 20. The all-star jam featured a near- reunion of Springsteen's E Street Band, with former members "Little Steven" Van Zandt, Clarence Clemons and Max Weinberg joining The Boss on stage for some of his most memorable songs, including "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Promised Land" and "Two Hearts."

Tickets, priced at $125 each, had sold out almost instantly, creating an added feeling of exclusivity in the 1,400-seat theater. The audience watched a history-making night of collaborations involving just about anyone who was anyone in the Jersey Shore rock 'n' roll scene. "Not only am I sure this is worth the price of admission, but you guys are really doing a good deed tonight," said Bon Jovi.

King was slain Nov. 20 by a fugitive who knew he was about to be arrested for a Massachusetts stabbing and vowed to kill a police officer before killing himself. A 45-year-old father of two young boys, King was the most highly decorated officer in the history of the Long Branch Police Department. He served on the department for 21 1/2 years, earning the respect even of drug dealers he had arrested. King once bought an ice cream cone to calm down a young boy whose parents he had just arrested during a drug raid. "That's the kind of man he was," said Long Branch Public Safety Director Louis Napoletano, one of King's closest friends and the godfather of one of King's two sons. "He treated you with respect and dignity, whether you deserved it or not."

Within days of King's death, monetary donations started rolling in to Long Branch police headquarters, prompting the department and a local law firm to set up a tax-exempt memorial fund to handle contributions to King's family. The concert was set up to raise money for the fund; organizers hoped to raise more than $100,000 through ticket sales. Donations to the Pat King Memorial Family Fund should be sent to the Long Branch Police Department, c/o Capt. Kenneth Walker, 344 Broadway, Long Branch, N.J. 07740.

Concert promoter Tony Pallagrosi said he and members of the Long Branch Police Department both wanted to do a fund-raising concert to aid King's family. Pallagrosi called Bon Jovi, who eagerly agreed to organize the show. "He went out, called his friends, and the show came together," Pallagrosi said. "Everyone wanted to do it. Everyone said yes on the first call." "They're good people that just want to help," said Ann Bell, the sister of King's widow, Maureen.

Mrs. King and her two young sons, Patrick, 11, and Todd, 10, did not attend the show last night, but went to a private rehearsal Friday night at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, where they met the musicians and their families. The sons' ages were reported incorrectly in an article in the Asbury Park Press yesterday. About 50 Long Branch police officers attended the concert. "We needed the rest of them to cover the city," said Detective Lt. Patrick Joyce.

The show began with Asbury Park native Danny DeVito pumping up the crowd. "Are you ready?" he yelled. "You better be ready, because 'This Time It's for Real.' " As he said the words, a white screen rose from floor to ceiling, and Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, Little Steven and Bobby Bandiera tore into the old Asbury Jukes favorite of the same name. The crowd went wild, and Bon Jovi and Springsteen fell to their knees at the first note.

Springsteen wore a red beret, a black T-shirt and pants; Bon Jovi wore a black jacket, gray silk shirt and black pants. Southside wore a gray suit and tie, and Van Zandt wore one of his trademark bandannas. Bon Jovi particularly seemed to enjoy himself, grinning from ear to ear as he watched Springsteen and Van Zandt trade choruses at the same microphone. He looked for all the world like an awestruck fan who had just been plucked from the audience, given a Fender Stratocaster, and led on stage to play guitar with his idols.

Springsteen yelled out a forceful "One, two, three, four, one, two," introduction to the second song, "Two Hearts," and Bon Jovi followed with one of his own songs, "Bad Medicine." The concert resembled a giant rock 'n' roll volleyball game, with musicians rotating in and out with each song. On any given number, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora might be on stage with drummer Max Weinberg, Bandiera, Southside or any combination thereof. Often, Springsteen, Southside and Bon Jovi took turns singing verses of each others' songs.

Springsteen paced the stage as the band played an extended introduction to "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and the crowd erupted as the song kicked into high gear. In a perfectly timed bit of choreography, Clemons strolled onstage with his saxophone just as Springsteen sang the line "and the Big Man joined the band." Clemons then proceeded to belt out sax lines as thick as a Sea Bright fog. Bon Jovi drew shrieks from the female fans as he began his hit "You Give Love a Bad Name." Springsteen sang the second verse and played the beginning of the guitar solo. Sambora then took over the second half of the solo at breakneck speed.

At times you could be forgiven for thinking it was a dollar-a-shot Tuesday night at the Fast Lane in the early 1980s with Bon Jovi, or a cold January night in the mid-'70s at the Stone Pony as Springsteen and the E Streeters played for a small crowd of rowdy rockers. Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" closed out the first portion of the show after two hours and 10 minutes. Springsteen and company roared through "Badlands" for the first encore, followed by Bon Jovi's "Keep the Faith."

The all-star band literally brought the roof down on the Springsteen classic "Born to Run," which knocked small pieces of plaster off the ancient theater's ceiling; security guards had to brush small pieces of it out of their hair after the song. As the show neared the three-hour mark, it became clear that the carefully planned set list had broken down. Bon Jovi, Springsteen and Van Zandt gathered in a circle in the middle of the stage, teaching each other chords to the next song they hoped to play. "We ran outta songs," Springsteen said sheepishly.

But that didn't stop the band. As they struggled to find a tune at least most of them knew, Southside strolled to a microphone and began singing the schmaltzy ballad "You Light Up My Life," and the crowd laughed. Springsteen finally took matters into his own hands, deciding that the closing number of the night would be "Thunder Road." At the end of the song, all the musicians who had participated in the concert took a group bow as the audience roared its appreciation.