ROAD TRIP: MCB Does Cleveland- The Road To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame DAY THREE (SATURDAY-Part 2) and Epilogue
I felt like a member of the Beatles pulling up in a limo to the red carpet at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. The red carpet was barricaded on each side and there was mass amount of people on each side of it. I could see the mass amount of people through the tinted windows and some may have thought some celebrity was inside our limo. I was dared to wave to the crowd when I got out, but after being mistaken for Anthony Kiedas the night before I wasn't chancing it. I didn't get to walk the red carpet and quickly walked up to the entrance to venue and was pleased that I was not searched and was able to bring my camera in.
The ceremony was being held in the Cleveland Public Hall and it felt and looked like a high school building inside. You could tell the place was ancient, the fresh paint job wasn't fooling anyone. The atmosphere changed once I got out of the hallway and into my seat. The place looked very classy inside. Imagine a smaller version of the Palace of Auburn Hills and that's how it was set up, The inductor's, inductees, their family and friends, and assorted other big shots all had tables on the main floor while the general admission seated area wrapped around and was elevated. The main stage was draped in a red curtain and I was anticipating a good evening at this point.
A voice came over the PA announcing how many minutes till the show began and please take your seats. Was this really happening and was I really here? Indeed it was. The curtain opened to reveal the band Green Day and they started performing their song "Letterbomb". Lead singer Bille Joe Armstrong asked (or was it a order?) to the crowd to get live and get to their feet. And we did just that. Almost the entire sold out room of 6,000 fans and 1,400 guests got up. And this was only the start to the five and a half hour ceremony. I was surely in for a treat.
I looked down at the tables on the main floor trying to spot some musical celebrities. Early on I could see Mike D from the Beastie Boys with his family, Ron Wood from Faces/Rolling Stones, and a table full of Guns N' Roses members which included Duff McCagen, Matt Sorum, Steven Adler, and Gilby Clarke. I enjoyed watching these people at their tables throughout the night because it's the stuff you will never see on the HBO broadcast.
The first inductors were Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top and they inducted the late Freddie King. Freddies Daughter Wanda accepted the award in his honor and gave the best acceptance speech of the night in which she shared a story of breaking his guitar and first discovering her dad was a musician by seeing him on TV.
John Mellencamp was up next to induct Donovan. John walked to the podium with his ever present cigarette in hand. Mellencamp is just plain cool. He brought out his own copy of a Donovan record he's had for years and read off the cuff. My seat was positioned so I had a perfect view on the stage and the teleprompter that people on the stage read from. Some were more lax about it, but some read ever word. John was on the lax side of it. Donovan was inducted and performed three songs. John would join him on the last which was "Season on The Witch".
The Small Faces/Faces were inducted by Stevie Van Zandt. The Faces were without Rod Stewart this night due to illness, but Mick Hucknall from Simply Red filled in and did one hell of job. I didn't know much about the Faces before the ceremony besides Rod Stewart and Ron Wood's presence in the band, but after the three song performance that night which included my favorite "Stay With Me" I will surely be looking more into them.
Motown's own Smokey Robinson inducted "the groups and bands" which included the backing bands of famous headliners. The groups included Gene Vincent's Blue Caps, Bill Haley's Comets, Buddy Holly's Crickets, James Brown's Famous Flames, Hank Ballard's Midnighters, and Smokey Robinson's The Miracles. Members of some of the bands were there to accept. My favorite was the last surviving member of the Famous Flames, Bobby Bennett who called out James Brown for getting all the glory when he himself had a huge part in his success.
Chuck D and LL Cool J inducted The Beastie Boys into the Hall Of Fame. Both had fantastic speech's praising hip hop as a music form and LL Cool J even name dropped Vanilla Ice. The Beastie Boys accepted the induction without Adam "MCA" Yahuch who has been battling cancer since 2009. Ad-Rock however did read a speech on his behalf. The Beastie Boys were a early love of mine back in the day when I was a break dancer and I was dissppointed that they would not be able to perform live. Instead Kid Rock, Black Thought from the Roots, and Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy took the stage in green Adidas tracksuits and performed a medley of their songs including ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn,’ ‘So What Cha Want,’ ‘Sabotage’ and ‘The New Style.’with support from ?uestlove on drums and Mixmaster Mike on the 1 and 2's. The crowd went nuts and the performance surely got the crowd moving.
Next to be inducted were Gun N' Roses. One of my favorite bands of all time. Green Day had the honor of inducting the band. At this point word was out about Axl being a no show since he released a press release on Wednesday stating he was not going to attend or accept the induction. Throughout the induction there were many chants of "Axl sucks" and "Fuck Axl". There was also booing of Axl's image when it came on the highlight video screen. Billie Joe did come to his defense and praising his singing ability. This would be the only reference to Axl besides Chris Rock who during the Chili Peppers induction referenced Axl's tardiness by saying "even if he had come tonight, he wouldn't be here by now!" You could tell Billie Joe is a true GN'R fan as he went through their albums as well as members discussing the greatness that is the band. The members of the band who were attendance to accept the induction were Duff McKagan, Slash, original drummer Steven Adler, and followup drummer Matt Sorum. Everyone gave speeches and Adler was especially emotional on stage and shed some tears. Guest vocalist Myles Kennedy who currently sings for Slash's solo band and Gilby Clarke who replaced Izzy Stradlin joined the inductees to perform three Guns classics which were “Mr. Brownstone,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City".
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were the last to be inducted. Chris Rock did the honors of inducting him. Nothing special about his speech. Would have loved to see him come out in nothing but a sock. Now that would have been funny. The Chili Peppers came on stage with several past members who all had their moment in the spotlight as they gave speeches. Original members Anthony Kiedis and Flea alongside Michigans own Chad Smith were in high spirits. The band gave a shout out to Rick Rubin and George Clinton who were sitting next to each other in the crowd who I then visually located. It was fun to watch the two from that point on. The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed "By The Way","The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie", and "Give it Away" with former RHCP drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez on their main setlist.
For the finale, Anthony Kiedis called out to musicians from the crowd to join them on stage. Ronnie Wood, Slash, Billie Joe Armstrong and George Clinton all eventually emerged from the crowd and joined the Chili Peppers to close out the evenings ceremony.
After five and half hours the night was finally over. And what a night it was. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
For a full list of the 2012 inductees please visit: http://rockhall.com/inductees
In closing I would like to thank April, Lexi, and the staff of Positively Cleveland who took the time to show me around Cleveland. They truly have a passion for their town and were just as excited as I was to make the stops that we did.I would also like to thank all my fellow writing companions on this Rock and Roll trip- Tamar, Briana, Niema, Robert, Kathie, and Kevin. It was great meeting a bunch of fine folks from across the country who all has the sole purpose of making the most of our time together. And of course Kirk and MOTORCITYBLOG for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I bleed rock and roll and Kirk knew this was the adventure for me. Thanks Kirk and all the readers of MOTORCITYBLOG.
After reading all my blogs are you the least bit interested in making the journey to Cleveland? It's less than a tank of gas to get there and back in a small car and less than 3 hours away. Cleveland is a city full of good food, good music, good shops, and many adventures.
Please visit http://www.positivelycleveland.com/ and start planning your own adventure today.