In a land where awards shows are as much a part of the landscape as palm trees and traffic jams, the arrival of yet another self-congratulatory event in Los Angeles could generate a collective yawn. But as anyone in the entertainment biz knows, who shows up is as important as who is being honored and why. In the case of the 10th annual Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards, transplanted for the first time to Hollywood — specifically the storied Avalon — from its usual London base (the Camden Roundhouse for the past few years), the room was sufficiently star-studded, even by Tinseltown standards.
But millennials need not apply; this is not your Miley Cyrus platform. “Classic” stands for both Classic Rock Magazine, a kind of talisman to rock nostalgia in the U.K., the mecca of rock publications, and everything from ’70s-era hard rock to jam bands to old-school metal. Hence the Osbournes — including Ozzy, Sharon and Kelly — holding court in the room as the first family of rock.
“There’s that U.K/U.S. relationship that we hear so much about,” said Classic Rock editor Sian Llewellyn by way of introduction, “I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a relationship founded on high-voltage rock ‘n’ roll.”
And that was the theme of the evening, from performances by the likes of the Kings of Chaos and Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, to the slabs of gristly red meat unapologetically served up for dinner.
Manly men who helped invent FM radio collected their due, including Living Legend honoree Gregg Allman (following in the footsteps of such past honorees as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and, of course, Ozzy), and Inspiration Award recipients Robby Krieger and John Densmore, the two surviving members of The Doors, with only Densmore on hand.
There were also kudos handed out for Album of the Year (Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey’s “Going Back Home”), Film of the Year (Metallica’s “Through the Never”) and Reissue of the Year (Led Zeppelin 1, 2 & 3). There were signs of youth, like Adam Lambert, of “American Idol” fame, being honored as Freddie Mercury’s stand-in with Queen as Band of the Year, and southern rock stalwarts The Cadillac Three being named Best New Band.
Presiding over the festivities was ex Van Halen frontman and Tequila entrepreneur Sammy Hagar, who acquitted himself admirably as a kind of party-boy MC, and whose Cabo Wabo seemed to be the coveted stash of choice (these 60- and 70-somethings know their limits). “Once I get my buzz on we’re all in trouble,” said Hagar to the assembled, setting a proper tone for the evening.
Among those spotted in the room were Eric Burdon (The Animals), Jeff Lynne (ELO), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Julian Lennon and Monty Python’s Eric Idle, among many others.
The ceremony will be televised Dec. 28 on AXS TV.
(Pictured: Gregg Allman and Billy Gibbons at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards)