It was interesting to see some celebrities in the audience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Monday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City I wasn’t expecting. Meryl Streep was there looking fabulous I might add. For a moment I thought this might be another film awards presentation. Yes, I was caught off guard and then realized it was a music show first and foremost. This was my first time watching the induction ceremony from beginning to end. It was four and a half hours in length.
What I liked about this unique music ceremony is everyone gets a chance to make a speech. Apparently there is a time limit, but nothing like it is at the Oscars or Grammys. Also, the inductees perform anywhere from 1 to 3 songs based on their preference. There were three artists that were inducted Monday night whom I felt were worthy of their inducted. Some felt they did not belong there, but I beg to differ. Every year there is an outcry of why this artist or that artist was not inducted. No one is ever going to be happy about it. Joel Peresman, the President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was quoted as saying last year when the inductees were announced “The inductees represent a great cross-section of artists that define the broad spectrum and history of rock ‘n’ roll and people that have contributed immeasurably to our business,” With this in mind here are some of the highlights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies.
Why They Deserve to Be There
The Stooges (Iggy Pop) – I listed the band’s frontman so as not to confuse the reader thinking it was about The Three Stooges. Out of all the inductees they were by far the most deserving. Also known as Iggy and The Stooges, their frontman Iggy Pop, and the band decided to do something outrageously different during the height of the British Invasion and Flower Power music scene that was popular when they formed as a group in 1967. Their music was unlike anything out there. Naturally they sold few records and the crowds were indifferent and hostile to them.
The Stooges, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, were light years ahead of their time. As a result a following obviously emerged with their music over the years. They have become instrumental as well as a pioneer in punk rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, and other subgenres of rock. Iggy Pop and The Stooges were the only American artists to be inducted Monday night. They reunited in 2003 and have been performing ever since. All of the original band members were present, except one who passed away in 2009. Iggy was in full force with his shirtless stage presence. You can see why he has influenced such artists as: The Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth, Kurt Cobain, Jack White, Henry Rollins and many others like them. One of those was Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day who inducted The Stooges into the Rock and Roll Hal of Fame
Jimmy Cliff – He may not be as well known as his fellow countryman, Bob Marley, but his contribution to Jamaican reggae and ska music is extremely significant. In 1972 Jimmy starred in the film The Harder They Come. The soundtrack album from this breakout film introduced reggae to an international audience. The album was also a huge success all over the world. He is known for his mainstream hit songs such as “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “Many Rivers to Cross”, and “Sitting in Limbo.” Jimmy Cliff recorded covers by Cat Stevens and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Cleary Now” that was featured in the film Cool Runnings. His contributions to reggae music are worthy enough to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He gave a very heartfelt and moving speech. His performances were upbeat and got the crowd on their feet. Wyclef Jean had the honor of inducting Jimmy Cliff into the Hall of Fame, even though he is Haitian. Wyclef felt a huge bond with him musically, because of their Caribbean roots.
ABBA – You either love them or you hate them. They have that kind of polarized appeal. That’s why I was not surprised there was disdain for them to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The two married couples that formed this four person vocal group from Sweden are one of the most commercially successful music acts in pop music history. They were only together for ten years, but their legacy lives on to this day, thanks in part to the Broadway musical and film, Mamma Mia! That is based on a story featuring many of their hit songs. Meryl Streep starred in the film version and was there to support ABBA in their induction.
Robin and Barry Gibb inducted ABBA. They gave a shout-out to Meryl. Getting back to ABBA, they have sold over 375 million records worldwide with their unique sound, catchy song hooks, simple lyrics, and multiple harmonies with overdubbing in the recording studio. While on tour they drew huge crowds, especially in Australia. Only two members of ABBA were in attendance. I’m not surprised there wouldn’t be a reunion. The expectations on them would be enormous. Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson were present and gave their speeches. I was especially fascinated by Benny’s speech. He talked about growing up in Sweden and the limited influences on American blues music that wasn’t available there. He truly impressed me the most. Thankfully he played the piano while Faith Hill sang “Winner Takes All”, a great song by ABBA.
Snubs & Surprises
Big Brother and Holding Company are the band Janis Joplin started out with in San Francisco. They were with her during the Monterey Pop Festival that introduced Janis to the whole world. They’ve had success on their own after the split up with Janis. Another one is Alice Cooper who is considered a pioneer in shock rock. His concerts featured guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, and other horror show theatrics. While on the subject of snubs KISS has been constantly overlooked too. Their concerts and costumes are unlike any other rock act before or since. It took The Stooges numerous times before they were finally inducted, so it’s just a matter of time and perserverance really. The surprises for me was the fascinating speech given by David Geffen when he was being inducted with the Ahmet Ertegun Award (which is for non performers). I loved hearing how he got into the music business. He has certainly lived a fascinating life. Another surprise was the induction speech given by Carole King, their individual speeches and the musical tribute to the songwriters. I absolutely loved all of that. However, it was disappointing not to see Peter Gabriel from Genesis or any of the band members present perform their own songs (instead of Phish whom I was not impressed by). Overall, I enjoyed this induction ceremony. I’m not sure if it was the best, but I was definitely entertained by it all.
Listings of the 2010 Inductees into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
Ahmet Ertegun Award (Non-Performers):
Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil