In the throes of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame mania, Cleveland was loaded with revelry on the night before Saturday's induction ceremony.
About 1,200 people turned out Friday night for an official VIP induction pre-party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, including inductees Bobby Womack -- who was mobbed by fans as he tried to enter with members of his family and barely made it past the lobby -- Spooner Oldham and DJ Fontana, the Connie Mizell-Perry, the mother of the late Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, and former Beach Boy Al Jardine, who was squired around on a personal tour by Hall of Fame curator Howard Kramer. The attendees feasted at several food stations offering everything from sushi to beef filets and gourmet deserts and were able to view a new film about this year's inductees as well as a special display featuring musical instruments, clothing and other artifacts.
Dave Mason, inducted into the Hall in 2004 with Traffic, played an acoustic set that included the band's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and his rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," while home town heroes the Raspberries paid tribute to the Who by covering "Substitute," then were joined by "Late Night with David Letterman" band bassist Will Lee for an encore set of Beatles songs ("Ticket to Ride," "Baby's in Black" and "No Reply") and another Who hit, "Can't Explain." Reggie Calloway of Midnight Star, meanwhile, made sure there was indeed "No Parking on the Dance Floor."
Across town, Metallica and the dozens of specially invited guests the band is hosting this weekend busted capacity in a private room at the House of Blues with guests including Flea, Jimmy Page and Joe Perry, while fellow inductees Little Anthony & the Imperials rocked through a long set at the Agora -- despite a shoudler injury Jerome "Little Anthony" Gourdine suffered while working out Friday morning that necessitated a trip to the hospital.
Over at the Ritz-Carlton, where many of the inductors and presenters are staying, photographer Anton Corbin unwittingly held court in the lobby bar, visiting with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who will inducted Jeff Beck and was returning from a visit to the museum, and with Metallica's James Hetfield and his family as they came down for an early dinner. Sound checks and rehearsals took place at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, where the ceremony will be held; Womack worked through a medley that will include "Across 110th Street" and "It's All Over Now," while Metallica had to wait into the evening until crew members could arrive from France on a delayed flight.
Saturday afternoon, a rehearsal took place of the night's grand finale: "Train Kept A Rollin'" with Flea and Page and a performance of "Jailhouse Rock" with all of the inductees including Wanda Jackson, Ron Wood, Jeff Beck, Womack, Lil Anthony and the Imperials, Rosanne Cash and Paul Shaffer.
Saturday's ceremony marks the first time general public tickets, priced at $35 and $75, were sold for the ceremony; all 5,000 were scooped up by fans in Cleveland and from out of town. On the main floor, where tables ran $15,000-$50,000, VIPs will dine on barbecued shrimp-topped grilled corn cakes with roasted poblano sauce, shoestring potatoes and a dessert called Blue Forest -- flourless chocolate cake topped with kirsch whipped cream, brandied cherries and more chocolate sprayed with blue cocoa butter. A special vodka-based cocktail called Rhapsody in Blue will be served at the bar.