Stony Brook, NY – The Illusion, the iconic band that paved the way for many Long Island entertainers, was recently inducted into the Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF). This well-deserved honor marked a historic moment for the band, which also performed together for the first time in fifty-one years. The original Illusion members, hailing from West Hempstead and Franklin Square in Western Nassau, include John Vinci, Mike Maniscalco, Rich Cerniglia, Chuck Alder, and Mike Ricciardella, who now join the illustrious history of Long Island’s musicians and entertainers.
Barry Fisch, General Manager of LIMEHOF, expressed the significance of The Illusion’s induction, saying, “The Illusion has had such a major impact and influence on so many of the performers who later themselves became inductees into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. It is high time they themselves became inductees. Congratulations to The Illusion on being inducted into the LIMEHOF.”
Lead singer John Vinci couldn’t attend the ceremony in person but recorded an acceptance message that was played during the event. Vinci remarked, “Is this cool or what? I would like to thank the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame for recognizing The Illusion’s contribution to the Long Island music scene during the 1960s and 70s when rock was at its infancy. This is a great honor, and I’m proud to be among your illustrious inductees.”
A poignant moment at the induction ceremony was the acceptance of the induction trophy on behalf of the late Mike Maniscalco, who passed away in 2022. His wife, Carol, graciously accepted the honor, emphasizing the band’s significance in Long Island’s music history.
Three original members of The Illusion – Rich Cerniglia, Chuck Alder, and Mike Ricciardella – reunited and performed on stage together for the first time in decades. To fill the gaps left by the absent members, they enlisted a group of talented musicians, including Dennis Folger, Billy Alessi (of Barnaby Bye), Mike Barberich, Vinny Ricciardella, and Jimmy Javino.
The journey to their reunion was emotional and transformative, as Cerniglia recalled, “It started awkward the first day, and each day we got closer and closer, and you remembered what our friendships were, and that’s what bled through until we did it. It was great to rediscover friends who I’ve been friends with for a lifetime.”
Chuck Alder echoed this sentiment, saying, “It was like no time had passed at all. I was right back to being a 20-year-old rocking and rolling; I loved it!”
The Illusion’s impact on the music industry was profound. They were pioneers in the rock music genre, influencing other bands and legendary musicians, most notably Jimi Hendrix. They first crossed paths with Hendrix by chance at a recording studio early in his career and developed a close friendship, frequently performing together at Steve Paul’s Scene Club and opening for Hendrix in Boston Gardens. The Illusion’s performance style and psychedelic outfits were groundbreaking, as Alder recalled, “Nobody was dressing like that, nobody was moving around on stage doing a show, getting the audience participation; that was all new.”
Mike Ricciardella, a two-time LIMEHOF inductee (for Barnaby Bye in 2012 and The Illusion in 2023), emphasized how The Illusion set the tone for Long Island bands that followed. He described their struggle for recognition, saying, “Back in the day, no Long Island groups were acknowledged by anybody, so we had to pretend we lived in Manhattan and come out here and play. Until the Action House opened up, there was nothing going on on Long Island.”
In addition to their musical prowess, The Illusion’s legacy extended to the next generation, as Mike Ricciardella’s son Vinny, a drummer, had the privilege of performing with the band on stage during the ceremony.
Dennis Folger, who played guitar with The Illusion that night and is the son of the band’s longtime manager, Lance Folger, played a pivotal role in organizing the induction. He recognized the historical significance of the band’s contribution to Long Island and the music industry and was determined to ensure The Illusion received the recognition they deserved.
The Illusion’s story is a testament to their perseverance and groundbreaking influence. During a time when Long Island bands struggled for recognition, The Illusion captivated audiences with outrageous stage shows, custom-made clothes, exceptional musicianship, and mesmerizing five-part harmonies. Their partnership with hit-writing producer Jeff Barry led to their first hit, “Did You See Her Eyes?,” which soared up the charts and reached number one in 15 cities. The band released three albums for Barry’s label, with the first selling over 200,000 copies.
The Illusion’s impressive journey also included sharing the stage with legendary acts like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Allman Brothers Band, Chicago, and many others. Their influence extended to renowned artists such as Kiss, Aerosmith, The New York Dolls, and Billy Joel, who cited The Illusion as a major influence.
The induction of The Illusion into the Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame is not only a well-deserved honor for the band but also a recognition of their pioneering spirit and lasting impact on the music industry and the Long Island music scene. Their influence continues to resonate, inspiring generations of musicians and entertainers.
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