I thought it would be hard to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction better than 2014 ... not true. Saturday night in Cleveland, I witnessed amazing music, inspirational speeches, hilarious candor, and a love of music that makes every inductee and fan a part of one big family. Here is a recap of the 30th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction from Cleveland.
And say what you will about Miley Cyrus, she's got spunk and a love and respect for Joan Jett. Her speech was filled with smoking pot in a bathroom paid for my Oprah, an almost international incident, and a true outpouring of respect from one female musician to another.
And a very appreciative Joan choked back tears and gave the first of many moving speeches of the night. I come from a place where rock and roll means something. It means more than music, more than fashion, more than a good pose. It's a language of a subculture that makes eternal teenagers out of all who follow it.
The first of the blues inductions followed with stirring rendition of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band hit Born in Chicago. While members Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield have since passed, their surviving members each talked about being a part of such a unique, multi cultural group that transcended the music bounds. The surviving members, many of us questioning what a band that hasn't played for over 40 years would bring to the stage - but we were all pleasantly blown away.
He was the ultimate guitarist...It’s a rage without the anger; it’s devotional; it’s religious, Mayer said. It was as otherworldly as Hendrix, but where Hendrix was coming down from outer space, Stevie came up from below the ground. He was the ultimate guitar hero, and heroes live forever.
Double Trouble members Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, and Reese Wynans remembered meeting Stevie and echoed their love for Stevie and his dedication to his craft.
And finally it was big brother Jimmie Vaughan's turn. Hi I'm Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray was my little brother. Jimmie shared the stories of his little brother, sneaking into his room and playing his guitar when he had told him not to. But what Jimmie didn't capture was how much his little brother looked up to him. How proud he was and how he wanted to be like him. What would happen through Stevie's sobriety was the, in Jimmie's words: Every day, I wake up clean and sober and I think of my brother. In the end, little brother taught big brother.
Gary Clark Jr, Doyle Bramhall, Double Trouble and Jimmie Vaughan (c) PCarlson 2015
The moment many a fan was waiting for had arrived: Green Day. While, like some, I questioned why they were being inducted so early, it became extremely obvious the influence Green Day has on so many. Punk scene newcomers, Fall Out Boy introduced Green Day:
We were then treated with three Green Day classics, American Idiot, When I Come Around, and Basket Case.
Most didn't think they knew who the next inductees were, until they saw Leon Bridges soar into Dedicated to the One I Love and When a Man Loves a Woman. The 5 Royals were never considered superstars even in the 1950's, but over time, their influence to rhythm and blues cannot be denied.
And for the most moving moment of the night, Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson speaking about legend Lou Reed. It was fittingly poetic in only a way Patti Smith could be when she recalled how she was in Rockaway when she was told her dear friend Lou Reed had died. She talked about Lou's friendship, his own questioning of self, and the value and art he brought into this world:
Next, Lou's wife, the artists Laurie Anderson spoke lovingly about Lou her love and Lou the artist. She keeps his spirit alive and his memory will always be close.
Stevie Wonder introduced 1970's star Bill Withers, a man who simply walked away from a career because he felt he deserved better - and he did. The man gave us some of beautiful hits such as Harlem, Ain't No Sunshine, Lovely Day, and Lean on Me. But he had not performed for over 25 years.
His speech was laced with wit, references to the Big Bang Theory, and Judge Judy. Possibly my favorite line of the night came from Withers himself, when referencing many of the sobriety speeches and rehab references that occurred during the night, when he said This has got to be the biggest AA meeting in the Western Hemisphere.
And to cap the already spectacular night, we got the Beatles. Paul McCartney spoke highly of the drummer would replaced Pete Best, saying, sharing how he regarded Ringo upon first meeting him, as a grown up musician:
Thank you. My name is Ringo and I play drums. His speech was filled with memories of joining the band and mention of Paul and George. After playing the Shirelles hit, Boys with Green Day and his hit, It Don't Come Easy, we got our Beatle reunion and superjam moment when everyone joined Ringo and Paul onstage for With a Little Help From My Friends.
But that wasn't the end. While everyone was walking off stage, Paul grabbed Ringo's hand, and just like they did in 1964, they raised their hands up and bowed deep. We go the infamous Beatle bow and life, for many music fanatics, was complete.