The 12th annual induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, held May 6 in Cleveland, didn’t always seem very rock & roll — at times, it felt very Hollywood. In lengthy acceptance speeches, inducted musicians thanked industry executives and God — or, in a few surreal cases, ”the Academy.” So, to continue the evening’s Oscar-style theme, here are our own awards for the long (five-hour), strange, trippy evening.
BEST INDUCTION-SPEECH ANECDOTE: The Artist, introducing Parliament-Funkadelic, recalled receiving a tape from head P-Funker George Clinton with a note: ”You pee on it and send it back to me, then I’ll pee on it, and we’ll see what we’ve got.”
BEST HISTORICAL REVISIONISM: During the Jackson 5’s induction, brother Jermaine thanked Gladys Knight for discovering the quintet — as presenter Diana Ross, who has long taken credit for that accomplishment, stood behind him with a frozen smile.
BEST DEJA VU: No, not inductees Crosby, Stills & Nash playing ”Wooden Ships.” Rather, long-time-gone band mate Neil Young, who, as a member of Buffalo Springfield, was to be honored but chose not to attend. In a letter to the Hall, he claimed the ceremony would be ”cheapened forever” by being broadcast on VH1. (He also cited prohibitive ticket costs — even inductees had to pay $1,500 a seat.) The move recalls Young’s refusal to be filmed at Woodstock 28 years earlier, which is why he isn’t seen in the movie.
BEST USE OF AN AWARDS SHOW TO HAWK PRODUCT: The Bee Gees, whose induction presentation featured two plugs for their new album (no, we’re not going to name it).
BEST OVERHEARD REMARK AT A PRE-SHOW PARTY: ”Do you grow your own dope?”
BEST PERFORMANCES: James Taylor singing no-show Joni Mitchell’s ”Woodstock,” the not-so-Young Rascals’ exuberant ”Good Lovin’,” Brian Wilson squeaking through the Bee Gees’ ”Too Much Heaven.”
BEST CASE FOR CUE CARDS: Tie: Shawn Colvin tried to explain inductee Mitchell’s talent with meandering remarks like ”The [song]writing — I can’t even get into it.” Raphael Saadiq of Tony Toni Tone, introducing the Bee Gees, said, ”I can’t explain why they’re so hip and so current.”
BEST DIRECTOR: Michael Jackson, who said, ”I don’t like that angle,” then covered a TV camera with his hand. The pubescent boy at his side — Michael, the 12-year-old son of Bee Gee Barry Gibb, Jackson’s godson — laughed too.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ENTERPRISING LOCAL: Gary Weiss, a Cleveland TV director who distributed fliers auctioning a shovel used in the museum’s ground-breaking ceremony. ”I like music,” says Weiss, ”but I’d rather use the money to finish remodeling my bathroom.”