The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction festivities got under way in earnest on Friday, the day before the April 18 ceremony honoring the class of 2015.
During the afternoon, inductees Bill Withers, Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s Mark Naftalin joined Beck, Tom Morello and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to dedicate and open the new inductees’ exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which features items such as the outfit Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong wore during the Woodstock 94 mudfest, Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal T-shirt, a Ringo Starr jumpsuit from 1974 and Butterfield’s high school yearbook and harmonica microphone. The entourage enjoyed a luncheon at the Hall as well as a guided tour.
In the evening more inductees and presenters gathered back at the museum for an Rock Hall eve VIP party. Alice Cooper and Darlene Love, both inducted into the Hall in 2011, entered together, joking with attending media and firing questions. Who can hit the higher note? Cooper quickly pointed to Love before noting, “But I can hit a golf ball further.” Who has the better hair? “It’s all ours!” Cooper fired back.
Withers was less enamored of the red carpet, noting that, “All these flashing lights make me have to pee” before beating a quick exit into the museum to, presumably, do just that. Little Steven Van Zandt, meanwhile, walked in with Tommy James, who revealed that he’ll be performing “Crimson and Clover” with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts during the induction ceremony. “It’s meant a lot,” said James of Jett’s version of the song. “I’m thrilled to be here.” Van Zandt also applauded Jett’s entry into the Rock Hall but joined Cooper and Peter Wolf in expressing particular satisfaction that the Butterfield band was getting its due after many years of being nominated. “They were a very important group for me growing up — the first integrated group we saw with black and white members,” Van Zandt told Billboard.
Jimmie Vaughan, entering the museum with his family, said he was “very excited” about his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan’s induction. “My mother would be proud and my father and I know Stevie would be here with a big smile on his face,” said the blues guitarist. “It’s been 25 years since he got killed, so everybody’s excited and just wishing he was here, that’s all.” Double Trouble drummer Layton concurred that Vaughan would have been honored by the induction. “Yeah, he would have enjoyed it,” Layton said. “He was a pretty humble guy. I mean, we did what we did for the music, and everything else just kind of happened or didn’t, as a result of it.” Jimmie Vaughan, Layton and Shannon will perform “Texas Flood” and “Pride and Joy” on Saturday night, accompanied by John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II, and Gary Clark, Jr.
Inside the museum on Friday, attendees — including members of the Zac Brown Band, Jimi Hendrix’s sister and Experience Music chief Janie Hendrix, Leon Bridges, veteran music exec Seymour Stein and Phil Everly’s widow Patti — feasted on an array of gourmet regional dishes and desserts while an all-star ensemble led by Steve Jordan and featuring Ray Parker Jr. on guitar as well as DJ Mix Master Mike played two sets of mostly instrumental funk, including “Last Night,” “Pass the Peas,” “Soul Finger” and a particularly hot version of “So Much Trouble.” The group finished the night with Parker’s “Ghostbusters,” during which he brought up two young boys from the audience to help with backing vocals and one took it upon himself to grab Parker’s guitar for a solo.