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

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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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HBO, Los Angeles and the Future of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced earlier this week, the Rock Hall also revealed that the 2013 induction ceremony will be returning to Los Angeles for the first time in 20 years. The ceremony will be held on April 18, 2013 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live*, the same venue that hosts the Emmys, the American Music Awards, the American Idol finals and many other events. With Cleveland already committed to hosting the Induction Ceremony every three years, there is now the potential for a three-city rotation -- New York, Cleveland and LA.**

The Rock Hall also announced that HBO will be broadcasting the 2013 induction ceremony. HBO and the Rock Hall began their relationship in 2009 with two star-studded 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fundraising concerts which were held at Madison Square Garden. The show was enough of a success that after Fuse’s broadcast rights expired in 2011, the Rock Hall signed an agreement with HBO to broadcast the 2012 induction ceremony, and now the 2013 broadcast.

One thing in common with all three of the HBO / Rock Hall events so far, is that the concerts have been in large venues, filled with rock fans. There is a very different energy to the induction ceremonies when there are fans screaming, cheering, and booing (sorry, Axl) for the inductees. The broadcasts from the private Waldorf-Astoria events have always seemed awkward on television, especially the performances in front of the (usually) seated tuxedoed crowd. On the other hand, HBO’s broadcasts have captured the electricity of the events, much of which has been provided by the fans. For 2013, it would appear HBO isn’t interested in rocking the boat, preferring to broadcast a rock concert, rather than a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.

But why Los Angeles? First, this allows the Rock Hall to tap into West Coast philanthropists that may not make it to New York events. Secondly, there is a rich talent pool to draw from to be in the induction ceremony, as either presenters or performers.

HBO’s first induction ceremony this year was packed with big names as presenters and performers. They took full advantage of six performer inductees, the most since 2004, plus all of the backing groups which were part of a special induction. HBO also benefitted from a young-demographic-friendly slate of inductees, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and the Beastie Boys. Green Day even had the unprecedented honor of opening the show with one of their own songs, even though they weren’t being inducted. This all made for great television. It’s unclear how successful the show was ratings-wise, but the ceremony was rebroadcast often throughout the summer.

Assuming the induction ceremony moves back to New York for 2014 (Nirvana!), HBO will likely want use a venue like Radio City Music Hall rather than going back to a hotel ballroom, with significant performance limitations (sets, lighting, cameras, etc.). We’re going to bet that we have seen the last of the old Waldorf, at least as long as HBO is involved.

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Things are a little cramped at the Waldorf induction ceremonies

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Cleveland’s Public Auditorium is old, but large enough for a professional production.

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LA’s Nokia Theatre is a modern venue built for big-time televised events.

* - We’re assuming the Rock Hall will make tickets available to the general public as they did in Cleveland in 2009 and 2012, since the Nokia Theatre has a seating capacity of 7,100, but that hasn’t been announced (Cleveland’s Public Auditorium held roughly 5,000 fans). We’re also assuming tickets won’t be the $50 bargain that they were in Cleveland. For example, ticket prices for the American Music Awards range from $95 to $2200.

** - So what is driving the decision to move the induction ceremony away from its home in New York at the cozy (and invite-only) Waldorf-Astoria? Selling dozens of $30,000 to $100,000 tables at the New York induction ceremony has traditionally been the primary fundraiser for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. With the music industry in the tank, perhaps the money just isn’t there anymore.

*** - The Rock Hall has long relied on selling the TV rights of the induction ceremonies to partners such as VH1 and VH1 Classic (pre-2009), and more recently Fuse (2009-2011) and now HBO (2012-2013). Lately, the Rock Hall hasn’t been interested in broadcasting the Induction Ceremony live on the internet. Let’s hope they reconsider.

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Early Impressions of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced their 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees at midnight (EDT) last night. Here are some early impressions about the ballot:
  • This is one of the strongest ballots in years. All of the nominees are defendable choices and the Nominating Committee deserves credit for finally acknowledging some of its blind spots.
  • HBO will be broadcasting the 2013 Induction Ceremony again, this time from Los Angeles. More thoughts on this later, but this is important.
  • The Rock Hall is making a symbolic gesture towards the public by allowing the fans to vote for the first time. An online poll is being conducted, and the results will be sent in as the “fans’ ballot” and added to the other 600 ballots. Expect Rush fans to dominate this one (you can see voting percentages here). Credit Eddie Trunk for getting Joel Peresman to consider adding a fan element to the voting. (The Trunk/Peresman interview is a must read.)
  • ZOMG! Rush has finally been nominated!
  • ZOMG! Deep Purple too!
  • Seriously though, Deep Purple has had the highest fan approval on this website for years (currently 94%). This is a long overdue nomination to say the least. Rush have the most vocal fans on the internet, so this will should pacify them for the moment. Having recent inductees such as Slash and Metallica publicly champion Deep Purple and Rush likely had an effect on the Nominating Committee because the NomCom actually does respect the views of other Hall of Famers. That is how you get people nominated.
  • As nearly everyone expected, Donna Summer returns to the ballot, this time posthumously.
  • Public Enemy and N.W.A were the only names on the ballot of the newly eligible artists. Public Enemy was a lock to be nominated (and likely inducted). N.W.A less so, but certainly worthy of a nomination.
  • Heart and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts return to the ballot after seeing their first nomination last year. Both will be fan favorites to be inducted.
  • Kraftwerk makes its triumphant return to the ballot in a year where EDM has been in the headlines constantly.
  • Randy Newman also returns to the ballot after an 8 year absence. This time though, the induction ceremony is in Los Angeles. It’s not hard to imagine Newman belting out “I Love L.A.” to close out the show. Interesting.
  • Albert King’s nomination feels all too reminiscent of the Freddie King debacle from last year. Freddie King was nominated as a performer, but then inducted as an Early Influence, making a mockery of the process. Look for it to happen again.
  • Chic is back on the ballot for a seventh time. Is there still a “seven year rule”?
  • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band is also nominated a second time, after the public support from Jann Wenner and Paul Shaffer.
  • The Meters hadn’t been nominated since 1997, but they are back to compete in a very strong field.
  • The Marvelettes of “Please Mr. Postman” fame are up for their first nomination. They were the only artist that wasn’t on the vital “Previously Considered” list, so it’s a surprise to see them jump straight to the ballot.
  • Procol Harum are your 1960s rockers this year.
  • So what is there to complain about? Well, you can go read the comments on the Rock Hall’s Facebook page if you really want to know. It’s turning into a YouTube-comments-section level of discourse over there. Ugly.
  • Following the deaths of Whitney Houston and Davy Jones, many people thought those artists would finally be nominated. Didn’t happen this year.
  • So, how did we do in our predictions? We correctly predicted seven out of the fifteen nominees. In the comments section, Casper has the breakdown. Congrats to Greg F. who also predicted seven, the highest we have seen anywhere on the internet.
  • Vote in our poll! The votes don’t count, but they are pretty decent predictor of who will actually be inducted in April. Our poll is also the only one out there which provides results in a meaningful way, listed as a percentage of ballots, not total votes.
  • The Rock Hall doesn’t list how many inductees there will be this year, but it’s a safe bet there will be more than five, even though voting is restricted to just five names.

Here is the ballot in order by the number of times nominated, including this year (thanks again, Casper):

  • Chic - 7 (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013)
  • Donna Summer - 5 (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
  • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - 2 (2006, 2013)
  • Heart - 2 (2012, 2013)
  • Joan Jett & The BlackHearts - 2 (2012, 2013)
  • Kraftwerk - 2 (2002, 2013)
  • The Meters - 2 (1997, 2013)
  • Randy Newman - 2 (2005, 2013)
  • Deep Purple, Public Enemy, Albert King, The Marvelettes, N.W.A., Procol Harum, Rush - 1 (2013)

Much more to come….

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Fuse to air Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony through 2011

It was announced today that the cable music network Fuse signed an agreement to begin airing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, starting in 2009. They will broadcast the ceremony live for the next three years, moving back to New York City after April's show in Cleveland. No word on who will stream the ceremony live on the internet.

Presumably, this line in the article that prematurely announces the '09 "inductees" is a mistake, although it is a highly plausible list:

The 2009 inductees include Run-DMC, Metallica, Jeff Beck, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and The Stooges.
The five inductees will be officially announced in January.
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Mike Love's Rock Hall Induction Speech

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies used to be a lot more fun before they began televising them. Drunken, rambling speeches, insults and two-hour jam sessions were the norm. Take, for example, Mike Love's induction speech in 1988 with the Beach Boys:
And I think it's wonderful to be here tonight, but I also think it's sad that there are other people who aren't here tonight. And, uh, those are the people who have passed away, those are the obvious ones. But the other not-so-obvious ones are people like Paul McCartney, who couldn't be here tonight because he's in a lawsuit with Ringo and Yoko. That's what he sent a telegram to some, uh, high priced attorney in this room, you know. And that's a bummer, because we're talking about harmony, right, and the world. If we can't get it together in America and in England, and harmony within our groups. I mean, believe it, you can believe it the Beach Boys have their own [unintelligible] or whatever you call it, squabbles. But that's a bummer when Ms. Ross can't make it, you know?

The Beach Boys have continued to do, about, we did about 180 performances last year. I'd like to see the Mop-Tops match that! I'd like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do "I Get Around" versus "Jumpin' Jack Flash", any day now. And I'd like to see some people kick out the jams, and I challenge the Boss to get up on stage and jam.

[during Mike's pause, someone in the house band plays the theremin line of "Good Vibrations" during the crowds tepid response] I wanna see Billy Joel, see if he can still tickle ivories, lemmee see. I know Mick Jagger won't be here tonight, he's gonna have to stay in England. But I'd like to see us in the Coliseum and he at Wembley Stadium because he's always been chickenshit to get on stage with the Beach Boys.

The video of the speech was on YouTube, but sadly it has been taken down. If anyone knows where it can be seen, let us know in the comments.
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Who is the youngest Rock Hall Inductee ever?

In 1989, when Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the age of 38, he became the youngest person ever to be honored. He held that distinction until 1997 when the Jackson Five were inducted. Like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson was also 38 when he was honored with his brothers, and Jackson is still the youngest person to ever be enshrined (he beats Stevie Wonder by a few months).

Given the minimum 25 year waiting period for eligibility, it's unlikely anyone will break Michael Jackson's record anytime soon. We can't think of anyone else who began their career at an age younger than 13 who has any chance at future induction. Any contenders out there?

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Highlights from past Induction Ceremonies

With the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony less than 24 hours away, YouTube offers the chance to take look at some of the highlights from past ceremonies:

From 1995 -- Led Zeppelin (with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry):


Also from 1995 -- Neil Young & Crazy Horse (with Pearl Jam):


From 1994 -- Bruce Springsteen and Axl Rose perform "Come Together":


From 2004 -- Tom Petty and Prince pay tribute to George Harrison:

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductors now listed

One of the most interesting aspects of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is the selection of the people who get to honor the Hall of Famers with the induction speech. Future Rock Hall has now cataloged these inductors going back to 1993. The list is loaded with rock legends past and present, and provides a glimpse into who the Rock Hall considers important. For example, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam has inducted four different artists into the Hall. As if it weren't clear enough that Pearl Jam are future inductees, that would seem to solidify it. There are a few instances where the Rock Hall picked a current artist that didn't turn out to have a Hall-worthy career (Lil Kim comes to mind).


Eddie Vedder inducting the Ramones in 2002

If anyone has access to the missing data from 1986 to 1992, let us know.
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The Rock Hall trophy

As the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony approaches, it's time to take a look at the hardware the inductees will be taking away with them.

Eddie Vedder inducting the Ramones in 2002

The "form [of the trophy] comprises a stylized human figure, its arms reaching over its head to hold a circular disk representing a record." Much more information on the materials and the process that goes into awards trophies here:
The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Award is electroplated in black nickel with a satin finish, complete with a 3x3-1/4-inch gold-plated record. The record disks (which are not cast) are added to the award between the figure's hands and mounted with an adhesive. The figure is then placed on a 3-1/2-inch-square black and white marble base, personalized with a plate that's engraved with the recipient's name. When complete, the trophy stands more than 15 inches high.
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