Southside Johnny aka John Lyon
Southside Johnny aka John Lyon|Daniel Gonzalez

‘Southside’ Johnny Lyon ready to rock Hard Rock Atlantic City — and the New Jersey Hall of Fame

The longtime Bruce Springsteen pal/protégé will be inducted in October

Chuck Darrow

Chuck Darrow

Folks attending the Aug. 9 concert by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City won’t just be seeing one of the Garden State’s most beloved rock-’n’-rollers. They’ll also be watching one of the newest members of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 27 at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, Southside Johnny, whose real name is John Lyon, will join a roster of distinguished Jersey natives including the members of the acclaimed indie-rock band Smithereens, domestic doyenne Martha Stewart, Seinfeld co-star Jason Alexander and authors Peter Benchley (Jaws) and George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) as a member of the Hall’s Class of 2019.

As Lyon recently told SJ Magazine, while he’s not the kind of person to whom such accolades mean much, he certainly doesn’t discount what they represent.

“I guess it’s a validation of 50 years’ worth of work, but I’m not one of those people who needs that,” he told the magazine. “I just wish my parents were alive. They supported me in being a musician, and I think that’s a good validation of their story, of not trying to force me to be a college grad or teacher or something like that, which they wouldn’t have been able to do. I think they would be very happy about this.”

Lyon’s roots as a performer are shared with those of Bruce Spingsteen. The pair met playing the same circuit of Asbury Park clubs in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. And his close association with “The Boss” (and with Springsteen lieutenant Steve Van Zandt, another member of the Asbury-rocker fraternity) was instrumental in getting Lyon signed to Epic Records, which released I Don’t Want to Go Home, the first of his 27 albums, in 1976.

Springsteen, he explained, “Came and played at the Upstage Club, which was my hangout. I lived a mile away. So, we met, we became friends and then we were in bands together. And you know, the way it happens is you become friends and experiment together with all sorts of different music and listen to all sorts of music.”

One of the lesser-known, but interesting aspects of Lyon’s career was his involvement in the 1977 indie film, Between the Lines, whose cast included (in starring and smaller roles) such future film/TV stalwarts as Jeff Goldblum, Bruno Kirby, Lindsey Crouse, Stephen Collins and Marilu Henner.

Lyon and the band appeared — as themselves — performing in a scene set at a press party celebrating the release of a new album of theirs. But they and the LP were central to plot of the dramedy that was recently released on Blu-Ray. He apparently found the experience quite educational: He learned he disliked making movies.

“I always wanted to be on a movie set. That’s one of the reasons I took the gig,” he said.

“One thing I learned was that you get there and you wait and wait and wait. Then, all of a sudden, everything happens for five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and then stops for 25 minutes to move the lights and cameras. It’s just an awful way to make a living.

“But it’s a good way to learn how to do crossword puzzles.”

Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City, Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue; 9 p.m. Aug. 9; $29 & $24. For tickets, click here.

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