Done, Deaf, Delighted: Revisiting The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
PERFORMER CATEGORY: LAURA NYRO As she spoke of her admiration for the late singer-songwriter Bette Midler was sincere to the point of tearing up. Still, the length of her induction speech started to lose the audience. One of her better lines was an encouragement for “young women to listen to the Laura we all fell in love with.” Besides her successful solo albums, Nyro also contributed hits for Blood, Sweat & Tears (“And When I Die”), Three Dog Night (“Eli’s Coming”) and the Fifth Dimension (“Wedding Bell Blues”) among others.
Nyro’s son Gil Bianchini accepted the award. It was followed by Sarah Bareilles performing a rousing version of “Stoney End,” which was a major hit for Barbra Streisand.
AHMET ERTEGUN (NONPERFORMER): DON KIRSHNER Carol King inducted the Man with the Golden Ear whose career included music publishing, producing, managing, creating the Monkees and hosting a television program, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, that featured performances spanning the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers Band and David Bowie to ABBA, Ohio Players and New York Dolls. King called him “…one of the most significant influences on popular music in the 20th century.” Kirshner’s widow Sheila accepted his award.
Paul Shaffer did his Kirshner impression, which he was popular during his days on Saturday Night Live, and introduced Darlene Love. She sang “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”
IN MEMORIUM: A video montage screened while Ledisi sang the late Etta James’ “At Last.” The loudest applause went to Don Cornelius, Clarence Clemmons, Heavy D, Davy Jones, Whitney Houston and Jane Scott. Scott was the Cleveland Plain Dealer writer who may have looked like your favorite aunt but talked to and was known by everyone in the music world since the Beatles and the Who first toured America through the punk, hip-hop and alt-rock movements.
PERFORMER CATEGORY: THE SMALL FACES/FACES Steven Van Zandt did double duty as he inducted two bands. He called the lead singers for both acts – Steve Mariott and Rod Stewart – “two of the greatest white soul singers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.” And in reference to how handsome the young members of Small Faces were he said. “I’m not good enough to imagine all the sex they probably had.”
Moving on to the transition from Small Faces to Faces after Marriott’s departure he first brought up how he was in disbelief to find out that Stewart was white when he was shown his photo on the back of the Jeff Beck Group’s debut. Summing up about the Faces he said they “made some of the most soulful beautiful music.”
Members Kenny Jones, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Wood along with the late Marriott’s daughter, Mollie, walked onstage to a standing ovation. There’s a clear affection that they still have for each other, and it was a wonderful moment to see them honored. The musicians also praised and fondly recalled the Faces late bassist Ronnie Lane. “Steve and Ronnie are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in heaven.” Before Mollie spoke, Wood interrupted with a proud, “She looks_ just_ like her dad!” Stewart wasn’t there due to flu or strep throat. The audience showed no mercy and booed when he was mentioned.
Their live set with Mick Hucknall flying in as a last-minute replacement on vocals included Small Faces’ “All or Nothing” followed by the Faces’ “Ooh La La,” which was originally sung by Lane. The opening riff of “Stay with Me” brought about another standing O and the VIPs near the front went nuts. When it’s over, MacLagan got in one final thought, “Thank you so much. This was better than imagined.”
PERFORMER CATEGORY: THE BLUE CAPS, THE COMETS, THE CRICKETS, THE FAMOUS FLAMES, THE MIDNIGHTERS and THE MIRACLES Before Smokey Robinson began his induction speech he gave a shout out of praise to Berry Gordy who sat at a nearby table. Including these groups was a method of righting a wrong and recognizing their contributions to early rock ‘n’ roll. The frontmen for these groups have already been inducted — the Blue Caps (Gene Vincent was inducted in 1998), the Comets (Bill Haley was inducted in 1987), the Crickets (Buddy Holly was inducted in 1986), Famous Flames (James Brown was inducted in 1986), the Midnighters (Hank Ballard was inducted in 1990) and the Miracles (Smokey Robinson was inducted in 1987).
Showing that the crowd was as classy as it was rowdy it gave a standing ovation for what remained of the members of these groups who are lined up across the stage. A mic was passed from one person to the next. One of the Comets offered the classic line as part of his thank you, “At our age it’s great to be anywhere.” He also credited actor Glenn Ford’s son, Peter, for playing “Rock around the Clock” at home. The song ended up being placed in the film “Blackboard Jungle” and helped it become a massive hit.