The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Pulls Out All the Stops for the 2014 Induction Ceremony

Most of the headlines about the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees have rightfully focused on the artists inducted in the Performer category, such as KISS, Nirvana, and Linda Ronstadt. But the April 10th Induction Ceremony, and the HBO broadcast in May, could have a different set of headlining performances to showcase.

The Rock Hall has picked up a tool that Rolling Stone magazine has utilized for years: The Beatles = $$$ (the Beatles have been on the cover 30 times over the years). So, the Rock Hall decided that this was the year they would finally induct the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, in the Non-Performer category, thereby injecting some ultimate boomer nostalgia into the festivities without even having to put Ringo on the ballot. Could they coax Paul McCartney into inducting Epstein and even performing a song or two? It’s certainly possible.

The Rock Hall didn’t stop with the Fab Four. Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones former manager, is also being inducted as a Non-Performer. (The Stones pop up on the cover of Rolling Stone regularly too -- Mick has appeared 30 times.) Will the Stones perform? You can bet they’ll be invited. Even if they won’t, the Rock Hall will be able to pull together some big names to perform a couple classic songs.

And finally, the Rock Hall decided to play one more huge card it had in its deck: finally inducting the E Street Band in the Musical Excellence category. It has been 15 years since the Rock Hall honored Bruce solo (on Rolling Stone 24 times), so this gives the Hall a great excuse to get the entire group on a stage close to home.

It appears that the Rock Hall is using the categories in which it has full control to guarantee a successful induction ceremony and HBO broadcast. The Non-Performer and Musical Excellence inductees are named by special committees and are not subject to a vote, so the Rock Hall literally could have picked any year to honor these Hall of Famers (all well deserving). So, why this year? The Rock Hall traditionally signs three year deals with its media partners, and this is the third year HBO has the broadcast rights. It seems possible that the Rock Hall decided to go all out this year to set themselves up for their next media deal. Also worth noting is that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has a seating capacity of 19,000*, by far the largest venue they have ever tried to fill for an induction ceremony. Even with all of the Rush fans last year**, the Rock Hall had a hard time selling all of the expensive seats in the 7,100 seat Nokia Theatre in LA, so they want to maximize the number of headliners this year. They didn’t want to put the success of the show solely in the hands of a potential KISS reunion, a Nirvana performance without Kurt, or a Linda Ronstadt no-show. By including the Beatles, Stones, and Bruce, they put themselves in a can’t-lose situation no matter which performers the Voting Committee selected.

Joel Peresman confirmed that the induction ceremonies will now be on a three city rotation: New York (2014, 2017, 2020, etc.), Cleveland (2015, 2018, 2021, etc.) and Los Angeles (2016, 2019, 2022, etc.). It will be difficult for future events to top the 2014 Ceremony for sheer star power, but look at the future eligibility dates and start making plans.

* - The capacity of Barclays for the induction ceremony will end up being approximately 2,000 less than a typical concert because of all of the VIP table seating on the floor.

** - Let’s face it, even if you’re a die-hard fan of an inductee, it’s tough to shell out $350+ to see a short speech and two or three songs. This year, the Rock Hall is making that easier to swallow by including additional artists almost everyone loves. This is only the fourth ceremony that has been open to the public, so the Rock Hall is probably still trying to figure out how much they can charge for these things. The 2013 Los Angeles ceremony was considerably more expensive than either of the Cleveland ceremonies in 2009 and 2012.

*** - This year’s ceremony still won’t rival the Rock Hall’s 25th Anniversary Concert from Madison Square Garden. Check out the lineup and set lists for that one.

**** - Read also last year’s take on HBO’s involvement, still as relevant as ever.

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