It wasn’t a night celebrating, but they did it anyway: The sixth annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies went on as planned Jan. 16 at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Gala was halted at 9 p.m. Eastern time for President George Bush’s national address on Operation Desert Storm, with live feed from ABC routed onto the stage’s three huge screens.
Earlier, Elektra Entertainment chairman and Hall special-events director Bob Krasnow had asked for a moment of silence; he later said, “This acknowledgment is in no way an affirmation of this policy.”
A lighter note was struck by Cleveland Mayor Michael White, who promised “one helluva party” when the long-delayed ground-breaking on the Hall of Fame museum finally takes place later this year.
Inductees were LaVern Baker, the Byrds, John Lee Hooker, the Impressions, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Reed and Ike & Tina Turner. Named in the non-performing record industry professional category were producers Dave Bartholomew and Ralph Bass. Blues legend Howlin’ Wolf was cited as an early influence on rock ‘n’ roll. Late producer/record exec Nesuhi Ertegun was recognized for his pioneering work.
Pickett and singer/songwriter Hank Ballard, skedded to introduce Bass, were unable to travel due to fog; instead, Sire Records prexy Seymour Stein, also the Hall’s prez, presented the King/Federal Records producer, while the Neville Bros. paid tribute to Fats Domino producer Bartholomew.
Robert Cray, describing Wolf as “the cat who bridged the gap between country blues and whatever we’re listening to now,” presented the late performer’s plaque to Wolf’s widow, Lily, and daughter Barbara. ZZ Top presented Reed’s accolade to his widow, Mary, and children Jimmy Jr., Rosalind and Rose.
Producer Phil Spector delivered the induction speech for Ike & Tina Turner, saying “Tina Turner for me changed forever the way singers would dance.” Neither member of the duo was in attendance.
Tracy Chapman presented the Impressions’ award to members Jerry Butler, Sam Gooden, Richard and Arthur Brooks. Founding member Curtis Mayfield, who for was paralyzed in an accident last year, was beamed live from his home in Atlanta to thank the crowd.
Bonnie Raitt delivered an emotional speech for Hooker, calling for more radio and public support for the blues, and Hooker sang a snatch of his classic “Boogie Chillun” after receiving his award.
Chaka Khan presented the award to Baker, who asked, “If we can fight and die together, regardless of our race, why can’t we all live together in peace and share God’s good grace?”
Of his brother Nesuhi, Atlantic Records chairman/Hall chairman Ahmet Ertegun said, “He was my greatest and most important teacher,” before turning the podium over to Quincy Jones, who delivered a rambling 20-minute speech.
On the flip side, Bobby Brown’s induction speech for the absent Pickett was so brief that Ertegun felt obliged to add a few words on the r & b legend’s behalf.
Don Henley presented the Byrds; members Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke each gave short remarks.
This year, the traditional evening-capping jam session featured present inductees and a few “all-star” friends delivering short sets. The Byrds’ first selection, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” set the tone and overshadowed later performances by Hooker, Cray and Bruce Springsteen.