Steve Miller Exposes the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Calls for a Change in Leadership
The whole process is unpleasant. The whole process needs to be changed from the top to the bottom. It doesn’t need to be this hard. There is nothing fancy going on out there that requires all of this stuff.
They need to get their legal work straight. They need to respect the artists they say they’re honoring, which they don’t. I don’t have any of my paperwork signed, I have no licensing agreements with these people. They’re trying to steal footage. They’re trying to make me indemnify them.
When they told me I was inducted they said, “You can have two tickets - one for your wife and one for yourself. Want another one? It’s $10,000 - sorry that’s the way it goes.” I said, “I’m playing here. What about my band? What about their wives?” They make this so unpleasant.
They came this close - [publicist asks Miller to wrap it up]
No, we’re not going to wrap this up - I’m going to wrap you up. You go sit down over there and learn something. Here’s what you need to know. This is how close this whole show came to not happening because of the way the artists are actually being treated right now. So I’ll wrap it up.
In a separate interview with AP, Miller had further thoughts:
It wasn’t very overwhelming. It was kind of like a lazy kind of night with a bunch of fat cats at the dinner table.
It’s not a real pleasant experience, to tell you the truth. The reason it isn’t is because they make it so difficult for the artists. I think it’s time for the people running this to turn it over to new people, because it doesn’t need to be this difficult.
I don’t know why I was nominated for this, because i’ve said this about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 30 years and I don’t get along with the people who run it. When I found out about it, I felt like I was in a bullshit reality TV show.
Miller also said, "My fans take it seriously. I really didn't want to show up... You tell me what the hell is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and what does it do besides talk about itself and sell postcards?”
Some of Miller’s criticism of the institution came out during his eight minute acceptance speech on stage:
And to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’d thank you for your hard work on behalf of all musicians. And I encourage you to keep expanding your vision. To be more inclusive of women and to be more transparent with your dealings with the public. And most importantly, to do much more to provide music in our schools.
Artists have been complaining about the Rock Hall for decades too. In 1997, Neil Young boycotted the ceremony for similar reasons that Steve Miller outlined above:
Young, who was inducted as a member of Buffalo Springfield, boycotted the performance because of a dispute with the rock hall over its refusal to provide him with enough free tickets to bring his family to the $1,500-a-plate dinner.
In a letter to the rock hall, VH1, Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun and his Buffalo Springfield bandmates, Young also said he was upset with the rock hall's decision to sell broadcast rights to VH1, feeling that featuring the ceremony on TV commercialized and cheapened it.
”The VH1 Hall of Fame presentation has nothing to do with the spirit of rock 'n' roll," wrote Young. "It has everything to do with making money. Inductees are severely limited in the amount of guests they can bring. They are forced to be on a TV show, for which they are not paid.”
Let’s also not forget the Sex Pistols letter.
What makes Steve Miller’s statements so important is that he decided to step on the neck of the Rock Hall on the night he was being inducted. Usually any bad feelings get pushed to the side on a night filled with so much positive energy from your peers and fans, but Miller knew that his words would carry the most impact at that moment.
The question now is, will this actually change anything? The Rock Hall has been mismanaging artist relations for years, which has led to numerous lost opportunities for induction ceremony reunions (including two this year alone). When will the Rock Hall board wake up and realize that this isn’t working on nearly every level? The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s primary responsibilities are running the induction process, organizing the induction ceremonies and raising money. How much more failure in each of these areas is the Rock Hall willing to endure?
Steve Miller said, “I think it’s time for the people running this to turn it over to new people, because it doesn’t need to be this difficult.” We agree.