For the first time ever the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was opened to the public. The second I had found out about this amazing opportunity I just had to go. Thanks to Matt at Addicted To Vinyl, he helped make that happen. Last night was amazing to say the least.
Before heading to the event, Matt and I met up with Clevelandrockandroll.com‘s Bear and his son. We met up at the Great Lakes Brewing Company for some eats, drinks, and great conversation. Bear is a great guy and had plenty of awesome concert stories from the past to share at the table. It was really cool meeting him and I will be checking his site out frequently for sure.
Towards the seven o’clock hour we all headed to the famed Public Hall for the event. The traffic was lighter than expected and as we rounded the corner on to St. Clair it was obvious that something big was going on. Media vans, limos, mobile satellites…and this was at the rear of the venue.
As luck would have it Bear and his son followed us to the event so we all took a small hike around the building that once hosted memorable concerts such as the Beatles and Janis Joplin and made our way into the sardine cramped hallways of the Public Hall once we bypassed the red carpet. This was the first time the induction ceremony had been in Cleveland since 1997 and this was the first time that people like me could attend without spending outrageous amounts of money.
None of us dressed formally. We dressed rock causal. After all we were going to a concert right?. I sported jeans, my Adidas (Run-DMC love), a CBGB’s shirt, and a Sage Francis hoodie because that is how I roll. You would not believe how many tuxedo wearing people complimented me on that shirt. I was asked if I had even been then and regretfully I said I had not. Luckily others in attendance wore equal amounts of street clothes so that we did not stick out too much.
Now I’m going to break this post down into a couple of sections just for the heck of it. First I will talk about all the positive aspects of the night, mostly the performances, followed by a few things that really made the night not so enjoyable. Nothing can ever be perfect can it? Well the good news is that the bad things that did happen did not ruin my fun too much and all in all I would say this was one of the coolest things I have ever been to in my life.
Matt and I sat in section 19 row H which is on the left side of the hall to the back rear. We sat in the row that butted up against the rails and walkway so the plus was that there were no people behind us. Of course the rest of our night would be spent shifting our bodies to ease the aches on our necks from looking left, but it was a small price to pay for a great evening.
The place seemed to fill up slowly in regards to public seating. The high rollers who spent one of my car payments for a table seat in the VIP area were engaged in dinner already and were finishing up. Looking around I could see cameras and all sorts of lighting and of course the giant crane like camera in the center that towered over the VIPs.
Mayor Frank Jackson, I’m sorry… Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, had some nice words to say about the ceremony returning to town. I joked with Matt and Said “Cleveland has a mayor?” and got some laughs by the others seated around us. He spoke about the excitement for the induction ceremony as well as hopes to see it return every three years. Next up were some Rock Hall higher ups who had more positive things to say about the night’s event, but seriously I was not there to see high paid people with dream jobs speak, I wanted some music.
At about this time the music was about to begin I took a quick photo (seen right) with my handy iPhone just so I could share it here on the site. Soon the night’s first inductees took the stage, Anthony & The Imperials. The Brooklyn doo-wop turned soul revivalists blew me away with their three song performance including “Tears On My Pillow” and “Shout”. Smokey Robinson soon inducted the act into the Rock Hall once they completed their performance.
I laughed when Little Anthony told the crowd that Little Anthony & The Imperials had never won a Grammy but announced the band did have a new release and hoped that would change.
After a fun collection of Wanda Jackson footage appeared on screen Rosanne Cash took the podium to induct once of the first females to play rock and roll. Rosanne Cash spoke about her father, Johnny Cash, and Elvis and of course the lady in the spotlight Wanda Jackson who soon came out and gave some words of her own. She then waltzed to the main stage grabbed her guitar and proved that age is nothing but a number while playing “Mean Mean Man” and “Let’s Have A Party”.
Paul Schaffer introduced Spooner Oldham and some classic tunes were played like “When A Man Loves A Woman” and “Natural Women”. Sadly the crowd did not seem to be in to this fun little performance.
Classic footage of Bobby Womack from Soul Train appeared on the big screen with some really awesome footage. Once completed The Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood inducted Cleveland’s Bobby Womack (who actually wrote “It’s All Over Now” for the Stones). Ron Wood had a nice touching speech and actually looked like he had some tears in his eyes while introducing Bobby Womack to the stage. It was nice to see a hometown musician make his worthy way into the Rock Hall. Never in my life did I ever think I would see a Bobby Womack performance live but that all changed as he began his set with acoustic guitar in had seated on a stool for everyone to hear. He jammed to “Wait Until Tonight” and then with a full horn section “It’s All Over Now” took down the house with Ron Wood ripping up a guitar solo. Amazing.
Detroit hip hop artist Eminem had the privilege and honor of inducting RUN-DMC into the Rock Hall. His introduction speech was very personal talking about the act that “turned Marchal Mathers into Eminem”. Controversial concerns earlier were omitted as everyone in the house cheered for RUN-DMC as they were accepted into the Rock Hall. They were the first rap band to appear on MTV, to go platinum, to tour the world, to infuse rock into their rap, and now are the first to be inducted.
Each member gave their acceptance speech and Jam Master Jay’s mother spoke on behalf of the fallen DJ. I laughed when she stated that Jam Master Jay broke every turntable of hers. She also stated that she never hesitiated buying a new turntable though. Hearing Rev Run and DMC speak of how they got their start was really interesting. I did find it a little annoying however to see the entire group with multiple family members on stage together. It was a little too MTV Music Awards for me. Sadly the act did not perform at the awards. I was not aware that they were not and was actually kind of bummed. I know it would have been amazing to see them play out live but they chose not to.
Here is Eminem’s speech:
Bass guitarist of the E Street Band Gary Tallent as well as celebrity drummer Max Weinberg collectively inducted drummer D.J. Fontana and the late bassist Bill Black both of who played with Elvis Presley. I am curious to see the FUSE version of the awards as Max Weinberg had a very long speech eventually thanking D.J. Fontana who joined them at the podium.
Legendary Jimmy Page inducted his friend Jeff Beck into the Rock Hall. After some kind words the former Yardbird hit the podium with some choice words and first middle finger of the evening. The two then took the stage and did this:
Seriously that was once of the cooler things I have seen in my time.
It was pretty apparent that most of the public came to see heavy metal rockers Metallica. The rock casual attire seen worn by everyone included a lot of Metallica t-shirts, some brand new, and some from years ago when I feel the band was at their strongest. Some chose to wear sport jackets over the shirts making for an interesting choice in attire.
It was no surprise to hear the loudest cheers of the evening when Metallica’s name appeared on the big screen followed by a brief film of the band. By this time many of the people in the public sections were heavily sauced. I’ll get into that more later.
Who better than to induct Metallica than the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea. Sporting a blue hairdo, Flea gave one of the best speeches of the night. He spoke, and swore, about how much the band influenced him as a troubled youth and how they helped him get to where he is today.
Flea said it best when he stated:
“This music comes on the radio, and I couldn’t believe that it fucking existed. It was like I had been living in this normal world, where I knew what everything was that came on the radio, and all of a sudden my mind was being blown by this beautiful, violent thing that was unlike anything I had ever heard before in my life.”
Metallica, including Jason Newsted and Cliff Burton’s father who rightfully so gave the first acceptance speech, all took a few moments each to speak. As a long time fan of Metallica, especially in my youth, I listened to every word each of them had to say about how it came about that a heavy metal band got where they are today. Cliff Burton’s dad I could tell was so proud of his son’s accomplishments of the late musician and as a fan it meant a lot to me to see someone from his family to be there.
Robert Trujillo, who spoke after Jason Newsted, rightfully gave thanks to Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies and the second he did I had a big ol’ smile on my face.
Lars Ulrich did not have a speech written up at all. He huddle over the microphone and gave thanks to family, friends, and fans. While pompous sometimes he actually said something I wanted share:
“I think rock and roll is about possibilities and about dreams. The fact that the six of us can be up on the stage tonight, snot-nosed kids, outcasts, loners who grew up in very different parts of the world, in very different situations and make it here tonight, to this wonderful night in front of all these people down here … Rock and roll truly is about possibilities. Look at us. Metallica’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!”
It was true, the band has been through a lot and seeing them all on stage really proved they fought their battles and proved their way into the Rock Hall. At this moment I really was happy to be a part of that night witnessing only the second metal band to ever be inducted into the Rock Hall.
Seeing Metallica get inducted really got me thinking about future inductees. Will bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, or even Social Distortion ever have their day? Only time will tell I guess.
I was not sure what was going to happen next as the band exited the stage. I was hoping for Jason Newsted to at least play one song with them and much to my surprise Metallica and Jason Newsted took the stage and pumped out “Master Of Puppets” with two bassists. Yes…two bassists. It was incredible.
They may have formed in 1981 and show signs of aging but good lord these guys sounded just as awesome as every time I have ever seen them live. I do want to add that the above video does not include the entire public singing along and cheering their hearts out and the sound live was much better than what is heard. The video also omitted the VIP section sitting there motionlessly and looking scared. The band also played the commercially overplayed “Enter Sandman” and even though I really do not care for that track anymore it still caught my ear and I sang along…
I really hope that their performance at the ceremony leads Jason Newsted back to the band some how. Metallica with two bassists would be pretty sick. I know they had their disagreements and fights amongst one another but Jason Newsted looked so happy to be on stage with his former crew. Maybe it was just because of an awesome weekend they all had reconnecting, or maybe it is more. We shall see.
Once Metallica finished up many folk started leaving and that was a huge mistake as they missed out on the two finales.
First up Anthony & The Imperials, Wanda Jackson, D.J. Fontana (who was inducted earlier in the evening), Jeff Beck, Bobby Womank, and Rosanne Cash all took the stage and performed “Jail House Rock”. It was a pretty insane cover of a track that helped pave rock and roll to where it stands now.
After their performance I only knew it was going to get better, and it did. Metallica, Jason Newsted, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Flea and Joe Perry all took stage and played the Yardbird’s “Train Kept A Rolling”. Talk about guitar overload! There was so much going on at once I did not know who to look at.
My night was complete after that.
And so ended the 2009 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony…and I was a part of it. How sweet is that? Hoping to be invited to an after party or notified of a secret show, which did not happen, Matt and I squeezed out way out of Public Hall and called it a night.
That was the good, now time to me to bring up some of the events that really had me wanting to swing my fists…
First off I have a top 10 of drunks I would like to punch in the throat that were seated around us. Yes it is a concert, and yes it was being filmed for television, but seriously did you really need to drink to the point where you are most likely going to forget the entire evening? There were people around me that had no idea what was going on and would try and leave to take a piss every ten minutes.
With that said during some segments of the night the sweet ushers (more on that in a second) would shut the doors not to allow anyone back to their seats until a commercial break. This made the drunks unhappy and loud. Luckily Matt and I were seated directly in front of a door way into the concession area so all of the jackasses who went to get drinks had to finish them in the halls and created a ton of noise. So much I might add that I was not even able to hear DJ Fontana’s acceptance speech. That was about the time I turned around and screamed “Shut the eff up!”
People were yelling at the ushers when they were denied to be seated such as one princess saying “Do you know how much money I spent to get here?” – Yes lady I do know how much because it is the exact amount I spent to go there too and I sure as hell did not spend that money to hear your tramp ass complain.
Another finely dressed douche bag had no idea where he left his seat due to one too many and when the ushers told him he was a row off he yelled at them for wasting his time. Idiot. Drunk idiot.
Oh I almost forgot about the dad who asked me if “Evil Knievel jumped over the Public Hall in the 60’s”. Do I look that old? He almost ate it a few times down the steps too and I was secretly hoping he would have…
Honestly I could not believe the number of people that were just out of control wasted. If it were a Metallica concert I could understand but this was a serious ceremony of sorts that meant a lot to the artists involved.
Then there was the lady five rows in front of us screaming and wooing while failing to throw the devil horns. Seriously, I am not kidding. This drunk bimbo looked like she was having seizures at times because she was so blasted. She would throw her hand out, make a peace sign followed by what looked like the “shocker” and once even the “Live Long and Prosper” Spock Star Trek sign. She eventually used her other overly tan hand to mold her fingers into the most pathetic devil horns I have ever seen. If I did not love my iPhone so much I would have surly chucked it at her head.
Oh yea, my iPhone. I was trying to take a picture of the Jimmy Page / Jeff Beck performance and a security tapped me on the back of the head and yelled I am not allowed to take video making for a blurring picture. I told him I was taking a picture with my phone and he said it was taking me too long as I was holding the phone like a video player. I pointed to the crane sized camera and told him I was waiting for it to move. Ass.
Are you tired of my ramblings yet?
I have a couple more.
The ushers when we got there were friendly and showed us to our seats but as soon as the ceremony started they started talking behind us and their walkie talkies were going off.
I understand having contol at a show and hiring outside help to maintain, but the guys behind us did not respect the paying crowd and kept laighing and talking. I was getting so frustrated and I know I was not the only one.
One usher in particular had that face and smile that just read “punch me” and he pretty much annoyed me all night. During the Jeff Beck performance he danced like a fool mocking the legend. I know he had no idea what was going on and was only there to make his $7 an hour.
The same usher made the comment “Enter Sandman” made Metallica. Instantly I envisioned myself jumping over the rail behind me, grabbing the kid by the head, and knocking him out. It is one thing to be dumb but another thing to be musically dumb.
Finally there were the fans that just had to yell things out during the speeches in hopes that their voices would be heard on national television. A shout out or two can be humorous but some of these people were tying to out shout one another. Someone would scream “I love Metallica” and a moment later “I love Metallica more” could be heard. It was sad really. Any respectful fan would have allowed any of the inductees give their acceptance speech without drunk interuption and saved the shout outs for the live shows.
I am happy to say I kept my cool and did not get myself thrown out of the event. I wanted to so badly, but did not. There is a chance I upset the father sitting next to me when I dropped the F-bomb but I was pissed and it just came out. I think if I would have flipped out and punched people in their throats it would have made for a better read here but I did not want to miss a thing that night.
So there. There were some of my complaints. I am sure Matt could add a few more. Other than the drunks and the ushers it was a swell time for sure.
I really hope that in three years the ceremony comes back to Cleveland and if it does I will be there. There is something about being a part of rock history that is all so appealing. Sure I am not a rock star nor did I walk down the red carpet to the VIP area and eat cake but I did get to witness the same thing high rollers have been doing for years and that felt pretty damn awesome.