One of the greatest nights in the history of the Jersey Shore music scene took place 19 years ago tonight in Red Bank at the Count Basie Theatre.

The occasion was a grim one, a benefit show for the family of murdered Long Branch police Sgt. Patrick King. Sgt. King had been killed that previous November while picking up his dinner at a local restaurant. He left behind his wife and two sons. This senseless act shocked Long Branch and communities all over the Shore and state. Monies raised at the show went to a memorial fund that had been set up for the King family. Learn more about Sgt. Patrick King HERE.

The concert was billed as “Come Together” and the ticket stub simply read ‘Jon Bon Jovi & Friends.’

Photo by Tom Cunningham

Turns out JBJ had some pretty special friends in mind.

You had, Bruce Springsteen and a majority of the E Street Band. You had all of Bon Jovi. You had the illustrious Miami Horns (La Bamba, Mark Pender, Eddie Manion & Joey Stann). You had SNL drummer Shawn Pelton (who been recruited to the East Coast in the mid-80’s by John Eddie), you had multi-instrumentalist Everett Bradley, another John Eddie alum, who went on to tour with the E Street Band, lead the band for Meredith Vieira on her daytime television show and who is now on tour with Bob Jovi. You had Mr. Versatile—Bobby Bandiera. And you even had Asbury Park native Danny DeVito as the guest host.

Tickets were priced at $125 across the board, and everyone who walked in was handed a commemorative t-shirt, and at the end of the night, special posters that were signed by most of the evening’s participants were sold for $75.

Photo by Tom Cunningham

The only other time I’d ever seen Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt, Southside Johnny and Jon Bon Jovi share a stage was at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on 9/26/91, for a video recording celebrating the release of SSJ’s “Better Days” album. But this transcended that in a zillion different ways. There were all sorts of collaborations, even solo turns by Patti Scialfa and Richie Sambora. There was a BIG surprise when an unannounced Clarence Clemons hit the stage early on during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” when “the Big Man joined the band.” It was that kind of night.

As noted below in the set list, there were signature songs from all of the local legends. They’d rehearsed the previous day, and pretty much stuck to the set list, EXCEPT when Southside was persuaded by someone up close to launch into “The Fever” which he ‘reluctantly’ did and then he and Springsteen and Clemons and the great backing players nailed a version for the ages. It was very much that kind of night.

Setlist, photo by Tom Cunningham

In January 1998, Bruce Springsteen was still estranged from the E Street Band. He hadn’t actually played a full on rock show in a number of years at that point. In the following months, work would begin in earnest on what turned out to be a 4-disc retrospective set called “Tracks” (which would be released in November), followed by the announcement that Bruce & The E Street Band would launch a Reunion Tour in 1999. And we haven’t looked back since. I remain convinced that that night in Red Bank helped to expedite those future plans.

Tom Cunningham

I’ll listen to the show in its entirety today like I always do when the 31st of January rolls around. I usually find a different thing or two that’ll blow my mind or jog yet another memory, and I’ll revel in that. It’s a night I’ll never forget. It’s a night that will always remind me that “we take care of our own” is more than just some song title.

I’ll listen knowing that those songs were performed that night for a just cause in honor of a just man.

THIS TIME IT'S FOR REAL (with Southside Johnny, Jon Bon Jovi, and Steve Van Zandt) / TWO HEARTS (with Steve Van Zandt) / BAD MEDICINE (Southside Johnny and Jon Bon Jovi) / UNTIL THE GOOD IS GONE (Steve Van Zandt) / TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT (with Jon Bon Jovi) / BROKE DOWN PIECE OF MAN (Southside Johnny and Jon Bon Jovi) / HARD TIMES COME EASY (Richie Sambora) / LOVES GLORY (Patti Scialfa) / THERE GOES MY BABY (Southside Johnny) / THIS TIME BABY'S GONE FOR GOOD (with Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt) / YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME (with Jon Bon Jovi) / THE PROMISED LAND / ALL I NEEDED WAS YOU (Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt) / SOMEDAY I'LL BE SATURDAY NIGHT (Jon Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny) / BOBBY JEAN / BLOOD ON BLOOD (Jon Bon Jovi) / THE FEVER (with Southside Johnny and Clarence Clemons) / I'VE BEEN WORKING TOO HARD - LITTLE QUEENIE (Southside Johnny and Jon Bon Jovi) / I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME (with Southside Johnny, Jon Bon Jovi, and Steve Van Zandt) / IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME (with Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt) / WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE (with Jon Bon Jovi) / BACKSTREETS / FOREVER (Steve Van Zandt) / LIVIN' ON A PRAYER (Jon Bon Jovi) / BADLANDS / I PLAYED THE FOOL (Southside Johnny and Jon Bon Jovi) / KEEP THE FAITH (Jon Bon Jovi) / BORN TO RUN / ROCKIN' ALL OVER THE WORLD (with all performers) / TREAT HER RIGHT (with all performers) / THUNDER ROAD (with Southside Johnny, Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Van Zandt, et al.) (set list via Brucebase)