By Brian Ives
“It’s water under the bridge.” It’s an easy phrase to say, but it can sometimes be hard to live by. We’ve seen both scenarios play out at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony over the years.
Occasionally bygones are bygones, and you get great moments of reconciliation: Cream, Talking Heads and the Police are some of the bands that have reunited at their inductions over the decades.
On the other hand, there have been some pretty cold moments as well: Levon Helm skipped the Band’s induction because he didn’t want to share the stage with former bandmate Robbie Robertson. John Fogerty put together a backing band that included Robertson and Bruce Springsteen because he didn’t want to reunite with his former Creedence Clearwater Revival bandmates. And current and former Blondie members bickered from the stage during their acceptance speech.
Last year’s induction class–Chicago, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick and N.W.A.–had tons of drama. In the weeks leading up to the event, Chicago and former singer/bassist Peter Cetera went back and forth over whether or not he’d reunite with them (he didn’t); Cheap Trick and former drummer Bun E. Carlos took shots at each other in the press, although they did perform together; members of Deep Purple complained that some of the current lineup wasn’t included (which other bands have complained about in the past, notably KISS), and whether or not ex-guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would show up (he didn’t). Steve Miller was quiet up until the ceremony, where he started a beef with both the Black Keys (who presented him) and the Hall of Fame itself.
N.W.A., easily the most controversial inductee, was relatively drama-free, minus a few shots fired towards Gene Simmons for his “rap isn’t rock” complaints.
But what will be this year’s controversies? Let’s break it down by inductee.
Journey: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would surely love to pull off a reunion of Journey with their ex-singer Steve Perry, the guy who sang all of their hits. Perry keeps a low profile, and similar to the Chicago/Peter Cetera riff, he has never really shown any interest in rejoining. You can bet that the Rock Hall will try to make this happen, but it won’t be easy. This will be an interesting few weeks for Journey fans.
Yes: There are currently two active bands with members of Yes playing Yes music. The band called Yes has two members who will be included in the induction: guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White. Then, there’s Anderson Rabin Wakeman, which features original singer Jon Anderson with keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Trevor Rabin (the guy who wrote most of their ‘80s hits). Then, there’s original drummer Bill Bruford and original keyboardist Tony Kaye, who aren’t part of either lineup. So things might get a bit sticky when it comes to whether or not the ex-bandmates will perform together.
Tupac Shakur: It seems likely that Pac’s friends/collaborators/labelmates Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre might be part of Tupac’s induction. And it’s pretty likely that Death Row label boss, Suge Knight won’t. But surely, he’ll have something to say about Tupac and who is selected to present him (especially if it is Snoop and Dre, both of whom he’s had adversarial relationships with over the past few years).
Electric Light Orchestra: Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne is the main guy who everyone focuses on, but three other members are being included: keyboardist Richard Tandy, who is still in ELO with Lynne, original drummer Bev Bevan, who has never participated in Lynne’s ELO reunions, and original singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Roy Wood, who left the band in 1972. Whether or not those guys all get along may determine if they perform together; there’s probably also several former members of the band who aren’t included who feel jilted.
Pearl Jam: They’re relatively controversy-free. The fact that only two of their four drummers are being included – original drummer Dave Krusen and current drummer Matt Cameron are being inducted by Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons aren’t – is a bummer for the fans, if not the band (and Irons has already been inducted once anyway, as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). On the plus side, it will cool to see them perform a song with Dave Krusen again.
Nile Rodgers: His band Chic was on the ballot for the 11th time, and for the 11th time, didn’t get voted in. So the Hall of Fame is giving him the Award for Musical Excellence. But he’s likely to be upset that his late bandmates – Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson – aren’t being included.
Joan Baez: Other than maybe being miffed about being passed over for more than thirty years (her debut album came out in 1960, so she was eligible in 1985), there’s not much controversy there.