Guitarist Duane Eddy picked his rumbling “Peter Gunn” instrumental and Rolling Stone Keith Richards jammed with The Crickets on “Not Fade Away” as a host of musicians and producers were honored during the Musicians Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Richards, who formally inducted The Crickets, best known as Buddy Holly’s band, said that without them “you probably wouldn’t have the Beatles, and you wouldn’t have the Stones.”
“Here was a unit that could operate together, and it turned us all on,” said Richards, who also sat-in with the group for “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day” during the Nashville ceremony on Oct. 28.
“Without them we would be nowhere. The whole idea of any of us anywhere else sprung from this idea of these guys we loved.”
Joining Eddy and the Crickets as new inductees were the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Booker T. and the MGs, the Memphis Horns, rock producer/musician Al Kooper and Nashville producer Billy Sherrill.
“There simply wouldn’t be a music business or hit records without them,” said Barbara Mandrell, who hosted part of the ceremony.
Eddy, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, called his induction an “honor above honor” and joked, “All of the wives of the musicians are happy because now they have a place to put their old junk.”
Formed in 1967, the Alabama-based Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section played on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, The Staple Singers and Bob Seger.
Kid Rock joined them for Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” while former “American Idol” contestant Melinda Doolittle sang Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
Earlier, George Jones sang his Sherrill-produced hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and received a standing ovation.
This year’s additions have a strong Memphis connection with Booker T. and the MGs and the Memphis Horns.
Kix Brooks of the country duo Brooks & Dunn said Booker T. and the MGs “listened and could create something on the spot. They were really great because in a time of racial segregation they were black and white.”
The integrated group served as the studio band for Memphis-based Stax Records in the ’60s, playing on hits for Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and others. They played on Southern soul classics like “Soul Man,” “Dock of the Bay,” and “In the Midnight Hour” and had a major hit of their own with the instrumental “Green Onions.”
The Memphis Horns also were architects of the Memphis sound and played on nearly every Stax release, including records by Isaac Hayes and Rufus Thomas. They’ve been described as one of the greatest horn section in popular music and can be heard on tracks by Franklin, Al Green, Elvis Presley, Neil Young and many more.
Kooper, who may be best known for playing the organ riff on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” formed Blood, Sweat & Tears and performed with The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. He also produced the first three Lynyrd Skynyrd albums. He wasn’t able to attend but said in a letter that he was honored.
Sherrill helped shape the countrypolitan sound on recordings by Jones, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Mandrell and many more.
“He became one of the great innovators in American music,” Mandrell said. “He always brought passion to his work and had an uncanny knack for matching great songs with singers.”
Sherrill said he was fortunate to work with “the greatest musicians in the world. It made my job really easy.”