For the first time ever, we've got a front-row seat, eye-witness account of what it was like to be at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Our buddy Ron Onesti had what can ONLY be described as a dream-come-true experience while he was in Cleveland the other night to witness this year's inductees being enshrined in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. (Ironically on Sunday we were up on stage at The Arcada Theatre helping to co-host The Rhythmic Arts Foundation benefit concert, waiting for Ron to arrive back from his trip. Obviously we had NO idea at that point in time what kind of weekend HE was having ... we were just jealous that he got to go! ... but this first-hand account blows away ANYTHING we could have EVER dreamed up in our wildest imagination!!!)
Tell us about it, Ron!
Paul, Ringo, Yoko … and me!
“This cannot be happening,” I kept saying to myself … over and over and over. I kept singing to myself two songs -
The Bad Company hit “Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy” cuz at that moment, that’s what I was livin’ ... and The Righteous Brothers’ “Rock ‘N Roll Heaven” … cuz that’s where I was!
My brother Rich and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in its home town of Cleveland. To say that the experience was surreal would be a gross understatement. What was to happen that night was to go down in the record books as any rock fan’s storybook dream night. But wait … let me start at the beginning because so much more happened that evening!
It all started a few months ago when I visited the Rock Hall & Museum. I am there relatively frequently as a member, and this time I was working out a deal that would allow me to put together a VIP experience there for my friends and customers. The guy from the hall I was working with told me about this year’s inductees, and one of them was going to be Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Ironically, I was producing a corporate show in San Francisco the next week, and I hired Cheap Trick AND Joan Jett to perform there. I had worked with her before so when I got there, I most excitedly congratulated her and, to my absolute thrill, she invited me to the ceremonies!
So we got our VIP lanyards (numbers 100 and 101) and made our way to the city where famed disc jockey Alan Freed coined the phrase “Rock and Roll” in the early fifties.
Tickets for this presentation were at a premium ever since the Hall announced that Ringo was going to be inducted by Paul McCartney.
We checked in and were given small tickets with a number 4 printed on them. That was JOAN’S table! Being an inductee, her table was the first table in front! There were ten thousand people in attendance, and I was in front! And after I got there, well, that’s when the magic started!
I first ran into “Little Stevie” Van Zandt, Silvio on The Sopranos, and a Rock Hall of Fame inductee member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band. We chatted about the reasons The Young Rascals will never do another reunion tour again. At that point, I thought that would be the celebrity experience of the night for me.
Next, I saw “The Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis, sitting with his wife. I said hello and asked him if he had seen Chuck Berry recently, since I did a show with he and Little Richard years ago. He replied, "Chuck doesn’t really come to these things like I do ... he is a lot older than me!”
At that moment, another Hall of Famer, Darlene Love, came to say hello to Jerry. I told her that I just had Ronnie Spector at The Arcada and that I would love to do a concert with both of them. “Just call me and I will be there, honey,” she said!
I turned around and there were pictures being taken. I moved a bit to see who it was. It was Alice Cooper! I have done several shows with him in the past, and he stopped to talk to me. In fact, he remembered the last show we did together. “It was a racetrack in Chicago,” I said. He corrected me and said, “No, it was in Cicero.” He remembered!
The next group of guys I ran into was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band “Double Trouble,” including Stevie’s older brother Jimmie Vaughan, who played our Arcada just a few months ago. It was very cool to witness the personal side of these things. As the video of Stevie was played, the family wept and winked at each other. It was a perspective rarely seen by the public. I went over and gave Jimmie a hug.
As I was standing there, Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl tapped me on the shoulder to get past me. I kind of belted out, “Dave!” He said, “What’s up,” and we talked about the night a bit and then he took a great picture with me! He was very cool, and quite humble. I reminded him that Mick Jagger of the Stones said that the Foo Fighters was his favorite band! He shook his head, almost humbly embarrassed.
Then, the unimaginable happened! I looked next to Joan Jett's table and at it was at that moment I realized I was actually standing right next to RINGO STARR! I extended my trembling hand out with no expectations, and he shook it and said, “Hey, how are ya?” We chatted about his manager and a mutual acquaintance of ours. He was so thrilled to be inducted. “I’ve been waiting by the phone all along,” he said. “It’s great to join the club!” What he was referring to was the fact that all four Beatles were inducted as a band, but John, Paul and George had already been inducted as individuals.
Then I bumped into a lady with a stylish white top-hat on. She turned around and I nearly dropped to one knee. I said, “Oh my goodness, excuse me … YOKO!” That’s right! Yoko Ono!
She was quite sweet, smiling and nodding a lot, sporting dark glasses low on her nose, but looking me in the eye. I told her that we at The Arcada Theatre will be celebrating John’s (Lennon) 75th birthday on October 9th. She looked down as the sadness of his tragic demise was still embedded into her expression.
Then John Mayer walked onto the stage to induct Stevie Ray Vaughan. His older brother, Jimmie Vaughan was there on stage with the rest of “Double Trouble,” Stevie’s band. They all jammed performing the Stevie classic, Pride And Joy.
I was standing ten feet from the performance, just having a great time. Then, people all turned around and starting looking at me. It got crazy! I’m like, “I must be a pretty popular guy, or they must really like my jacket!”
I looked to my left, and it wasn’t me they were gawking over. I was standing right next to Sir Paul McCartney! He came from back stage and started clapping and singing to the music … right next to me!
So for the next couple of hours, we exchanged comments about Stevie Wonder, who inducted Bill Withers, and about the performance by the megaband, Green Day. “I really love these chaps,” he said.
All the while this was happening, my brother Rich and I kept looking at each other like, “This is NOT happening!” With my thirty years in the biz, working with so many big names, I never had a “Beatles’ experience. On that night, I was “Beatled” to the nth degree, more than I could have ever dreamed.
So this night was long, tiring and loud. It was surreal and it was unbelievable. It was a great show with some heartwarming moments. And, I stood the entire five-and-a-half hours. In a nutshell, it was a wonderfully stressful night. But I got by with a little help from my friends …
Our buddies over at Vintage Vinyl News filed THIS report about the set list that night, honoring this year's inductees ...
The Set List:
This list comes from Vintage Vinyl News, who described it as "a work in progress based on the best information we could get ... so there may be a few changes".
Taking that for what it's worth, here is a recap of the evening's events:
Induction of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts / Cherry Bomb - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts with Dave Grohl and original Blackhearts drummer Gary Ryan / Crimson And Clover - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Tommy James, Dave Grohl and Miley Cyrus / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Chairman Jann Wenner with opening remarks, including introducing Jerry Lee Lewis who is in attendance / Induction by Miley Cyrus / Acceptance by Joan Jett and members of the Blackhearts
Induction of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Born in Chicago - Tom Morello, Jason Ricci, Zac Brown / Induction by Peter Wolf / Acceptance by Elvin Bishop and the living members of the band
Induction of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Induction by John Mayer / Jimmy Vaughan acceptance for his later brother / Pride & Joy - Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark, Jr., Jimmy Vaughan, John Mayer, Double Trouble / Texas Flood - Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark, Jr., Jimmy Vaughan, John Mayer, Double Trouble / Six Strings Down - Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark, Jr., Jimmy Vaughan, John Mayer, Double Trouble
Induction of Green Day
Induction by Patrick Stump / Acceptance by each member of the band / American Idiot - Green Day / When I Come Around - Green Day / Basket Case - Green Day
Induction of the "5" Royales
Induction by Steve Cropper / Acceptance by Fred Tanner, brother of members Eugene and Johnny Tanner / Dedicated to the One I Love - Leon Bridges / When a Man Loves a Woman - Leon Bridges in dedication to the late Percy Sledge and others who passed this year.
Induction of Lou Reed
Induction by Patti Smith / Acceptance by Laurie Anderson / Vicious - Karen O and Nick Zinner / Satellite of Love - Beck, Nate Ruess and Karen O
Induction of Bill Withers
Induction by Stevie Wonder / Acceptance by Bill Withers / Ain't No Sunshine - Stevie Wonder / Use Me - John Legend / Lean on Me - Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder and John Legend
Induction of Ringo Starr
Induction by Paul McCartney / Acceptance by Ringo Starr / Boys - Ringo Starr and Green Day / It Don't Come Easy - Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh / With a Little Help From My Friends - Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Green Day, Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus / I Wanna Be Your Man - Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Green Day, Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Beck
Nothing was noted here about the Final Jam Session that typically takes place after the ceremony ... I find it nearly impossible to believe that Joan Jett didn't perform her signature tune "I Love Rock And Roll" at some point during the evening or that Ringo didn't do a couple more solo tunes. The chance to see the two surviving Beatles together again up on stage ... I can't even begin to imagine the thrill and electricity of that moment ... a lifetime memory for sure, even if it did mean that in order to get there, you had to endure Miley Cyrus' taped nipples salute to "JJ" (Joan Jett). Unreal, Miley. (Remember when it used to be about the music???)
-- Kevin Mazur / Getty
-- Kevin Mazur / Getty
I'm not sure if I feel good or bad about the fact that Tommy James got to perform his hit "Crimson And Clover" with Jett ... since he himself is not a member of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, yet another GROSS oversight on behalf of the organization.
HBO will begin broadcasting highlights of this year's induction ceremony on May 30th ... so be sure to tune in for that! (My guess is we'll be seeing Ron Onesti at the "head table" quite a few times throughout the program!!!)