“Rock and Roll’s Finest Night!”
So said Little Steven in his incredibly eloquent “power of rock and roll” prelude to his induction speech for the Hollies.
The headscarf-wearing former Soprano Steve Van Zandt continued, “The Grammy’s? Nice people, nice show, but they go f*** themselves!”
He was right. If you want an authentic tribute to music so many love, done with respect, and a keen sense of history (you can learn something watching), and some humor like little Stevie’s, there is no other show/event like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It is rock’s most fantastic evening.
While uneven, most of the speeches were both informative and respectful. Trey Anastasio’s induction of Genesis, Jackson Browne’s induction of David Geffen, Geffen’s acceptance speech, Carol King’s induction of songwriters, the Van above Zandt, and surprisingly Iggy Pop’s acceptance were all nearly brilliant. It would be hard to improve on what any of them said.
ABBA’s Benny Andersson shed some light on their Nordic roots, asking everyone to “imagine a world without the members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!” Great question, although most RRHOF critics would think the Hall would be much better without the Scandinavian quartet – whose music pushes almost anyone’s definition of what constitutes rock and roll. What’s next, Phantom of the Opera?
Oh, and if you can’t show up to accept the award in person – unless you are sick and dying – your induction is rescinded. Peter Gabriel couldn’t make it; he was too busy rehearsing for a tour (and what couldn’t change the dates). Neither could two members of ABBA. However, my favorite evening was the drummer and guitarist of the Hollies. Couldn’t they make it? That is some serious WTF?
There were some rambling speeches, but most everyone came prepared, and no one embarrassed themselves as Mike Love did years ago. I think we can rest assured that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The performances were uneven, and the inclusion of current hits makes to shore up the fading vocals of aging inductees who might want to be reconsidered for future inductees. Some people need to sit out. But as Jimmy Cliff proved, age shouldn’t be the qualifier who was arguably the night’s best performer. Maybe marijuana is medicinal, after all!
Many RRHOF naysayers are ticked off that KISS, Alice Cooper, the Moody Blues, Yes, RUSH, Chicago, Todd Rundgren, and a whole list of pet artists haven’t been inducted. They call the hall “a big joke!” and want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They should simmer, take a chill pill and keep hoping the Hall comes to its senses on some of these artists.
Whatever criticism there may be for the RRHOF, it is rock and roll’s finest night.