The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed the Police, the Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, AC/DC, and the Righteous Brothers into the fold last night (March 10) at New York's Waldorf-Astoria H
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed the Police, the Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, AC/DC, and the Righteous Brothers into the fold last night (March 10) at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The 18th annual event also awarded posthumous induction to sidemen Floyd Cramer, Steve Douglas, and Benny Benjamin, and presented a lifetime achievement award to legendary Warner Bros./Reprise executive Mo Ostin. Highlights from the show will be broadcast Sunday on VH1.
Performances were the highlight of the evening, particularly the Police's three-song set, which marked the first time the trio had performed live since Sting's 1992 wedding. The group offered "Roxanne," "Message in a Bottle," and "Every Breath You Take," the latter featuring vocal assistance from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, and John Mayer.
Southern California soul legends the Righteous Brothers officially launched the affair with a rendition of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," on which Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were backed by the Paul Shaffer-led house band. The combo also tipped its hat in a brief medley of songs made famous thanks to the work of Benjamin, Cramer, and Douglas.
In a colorful speech during which he often sang snippets of the Righteous Brothers' hits, inductor Billy Joel marveled at the duo's range and power: "Sometimes people with blue eyes transcend the limitations of what their color and their culture is supposed to be. Sometimes white people can actually be soulful!"
Tipping his hat to the R&B singers of the 1950s, the group's first label, Moonglow, and producer Phil Spector, Medley and Hatfield kept their comments brief. Indeed, both the members of the Police and AC/DC uttered only a few words before rushing over to the stage to play.
AC/DC delivered riveting takes on "Highway to Hell" and "You Shook Me All Night Long," the latter featuring vocals from Tyler, who had moments earlier inducted the group into the Hall. "Thank god for the power chord," Tyler said. "That thunder from down under that grabs you in the lower 40 and gives you the second most satisfying surge that can run through your body. There is no greater purveyor of that power chord than AC/DC."
But the night truly belonged to three of the greatest English acts to spring out of the late '70s U.K. punk movement. "It's a great night to be a Brit," Elton John said while inducting Costello and the Attractions.
Boasting faux broken windows, exposed steel and wood, and ragged, punk-styled posters of each act, the Waldorf-Astoria stage seemed built to be a shrine for punk. And Costello ruled it, blasting out his classic "Pump It Up" with conviction, as well as the appropriate -- considering the looming war with Iraq -- "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." He also performed "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" from 1989's "Spike," teased with a bit of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "You Really Got a Hold on Me."
Perhaps a fitting tribute to its reputation as "the only band that mattered," the Clash was the only act to receive two induction speeches, both soul-baring confessionals from Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello and U2 guitarist the Edge.
Minus key drummer Topper Headon (who was back in England with "a case of the jitters," bassist Paul Simonon told Billboard.com), surviving members Mick Jones and Simonon, plus original drummer Terry Chimes, accepted their trophies, with late frontman Joe Strummer's widow taking home his award. A planned show-closing performance of the Clash-popularized "I Fought the Law" never happened, for reasons that weren't explained.
Recalling how his life was changed after he and his U2 bandmates caught the Clash in Dublin one night in 1977, the Edge admitted, "There is no doubt in my mind that [the U2 classic] 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' wouldn't, it couldn't have been written if it wasn't for the Clash." Morello recalled having the same experience five years later when he caught the band in Chicago: "I had never seen a better band before that night, and I've not seen a better band since. Their music launched thousands of bands and moved millions of fans. I can not imagine what my life would have been like without them."
Before its excellent three-song set, the Police were honored by Stefani during a charming speech in which she related her story of meeting the Police as a teenager. She even flashed a snapshot of herself getting Sting's autograph at that encounter. The Police seemed no worse for years of not playing together; during "Every Breath You Take," Copeland even smashed through the head of one of his snare drums.
A number of artists took time from their speeches to condemn a possible war with Iraq, including Jones, who mentioned an English friend who was part of a convoy of "human shields" now in Baghdad. While inducting Ostin, Neil Young slammed President George W. Bush as being "drunk on power." Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve even quoted a line from Costello's "Shipbuilding" : "Diving for dear life / When we could be diving for pearls."
Young hailed Ostin as a champion of creative freedom. The executive himself recalled the biggest lessons of his career, stressing that a record label's values should not be defined by Wall Street and the bottom line.
- News