Every arts organization and national institution should get a board member like Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman.
Like this reporter, he loves classic R&B music. The result of him going to an event last year at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater is that he’s now on their board of directors and getting involved.
On Saturday night, Perelman let 250 people into The Creeks, his spectacular East Hampton estate, to raise money for the Apollo Foundation. For $1500 a ticket, guests got to hear a live show in Perelman’s barn state of the art theater featuring “Soul Man” Sam Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, the Roots as house band with special guest Paul Shaffer, and R&B star Chuck Jackson.
In the audience: Richard Gere and Carey Lowell, Christie Brinkley, Lorraine Bracco, Penny Marshall, Kyle Machlachlan, Jake Paltrow, BET’s Debra Lee, and Citigroup chairman and Apollo chairman of the board Richard Parsons. I also ran into Sting‘s manager Kathy Schenker who came with Keith Richards’ manager Jane Rose; publisher Jason Binn and wife Haley; Channel 5’s Rosanna Scotto and her sister; John Sykes, Russell Simmons, Randy Brecker, Scooter Weintraub, and Londell McMillan.
The evening added a much needed $800,000 to the Apollo Foundation’s bottom line and will go directly to education programs run by the theater. The Apollo remains the central arts institution in Harlem, and a beacon of light as the neighborhood prospers.
It was Bon Jovi who suggested to pal Perelman that he have Moore–a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–as the evening’s centerpiece. In 1980, Bon Jovi and his now wife Dorothea went on their first date to a Sam & Dave show in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Thirty years later, Bon Jovi pointed out from the stage, they were all back together in the same room.
Moore and Bon Jovi performed two songs together–“Lookin’ for a Love,” which they had recorded on Moore’s “Overnight Sensational” album; and “Soul Man.” Moore also wowed the crowd with “You Are So Beautiful,” a tribute to the song’s writer and Moore’s late friend Billy Preston. Later, Lorraine Bracco told Sam and wife Joyce Moore, “My first concert was a Billy Preston concert.”
The next generation of Apollo legends was well represented too: John Legend choppered in from Manhattan and did a short set with the amazing Roots–they have an album coming out next month–as well as an impromptu version of “Let it Be” that he should record immmediately.
Mary J. Blige, working now on next spring’s filming of her Nina Simone biopic, was celebrating husband Kendu Isaac’s birthday and also turning up the heat with her signature “No More Drama.”
And so for the Apollo, no more drama for a while, thanks to Perelman and friends.