Lists

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Most Uncomfortable Moments

Congratulations, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This year you did it again with your impeccably bad timing.

In the ghastly tradition of ignoring legendary artists long after their initial 25-year eligibility came around, only to have them die within a year of their induction (see: Dusty Springfield, Donna Summer, Chris Squire of Yes, Ron Asheton of the Stooges, and Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five), the Hall finally deemed The Moody Blues worthy after refusing them entry for 28 years. Which is, coincidentally, the same number of years The Moody Blues topped most fans' lists of the Hall's most glaring omissions.

Despite what you might think of albums bookended with poems and packaged to resemble God's private record collection, the Moody Blues contributed something significant to the rock landscape and didn't deserve to wait behind some vocal groups who didn't wrote any of their material and others who didn't even sing on all their records. Now, add to the list of posthumous inductees Ray Thomas, the Moody Blues’ flutist whose death from prostrate cancer on January 4 robbed him of the chance to stand alongside Moodys past and present at the podium. For the surviving members and their fans, the band's induction night will likely be more bitter than bittersweet.

Even without interventions from the Grim Reaper, The Hall has always given us plenty of discomforting moments and inductions where former band members came together only to demonstrate how much disunity was actually taking going on behind the scenes. Here's a look back at 10 of them.



The Beatles (1988)

Beatles suing Beatles is nothing new, but Paul McCartney's no-show at the Hall of Fame because a lawsuit had once again made him the most unpopular Beatle since earning the "Breaker-Upper of the Beatles" title in 1970. That's not to mention enraging fellow Maharishi Mahesh Yogi disciple Mike Love (see below). George Harrison seemed as uncomfortable “supposedly representing the Beatles, it's what's left, I'm afraid." Here’s where we really needed Ringo, at his joking zenith just months before rehab, unable to read his prepared speech without taking off his shades and interrupting George's speech to ask why the Paul Schaefer band didn't play "Octopus' Garden" when they came onstage.


The Beach Boys (1988)

Even though Brian Wilson's robotic acceptance speech made sentiments like "I only wish my brother Dennis were here tonight; we miss him" sound as impersonal as a kid forced to read a social studies textbook in front of the class, no one doubts that Brian's mission statement — "I wanted to write joyful music that made other people feel good" — was sincere.

But making other people feel good seemed to be the last thing Mike Love was looking to do. First, Love took Macca and Diana Ross to task for not being there because of “internecine battles” with their bandmates. Then he started challenging every inductee to a battle of the bands. "The Beach Boys did about 180 performances last year; I'd like to see the Mop Tops match that. I'd like to see Mick Jagger jump onstage and do 'I Get Around' versus 'Jumping Jack Flash' any day now." Later in his speech, he said that Jagger has "always been chickenshit to get onstage with the Beach Boys."

Apparently, Love's seating arrangement next to Muhammad Ali put him in a sparring mood as he challenged the Boss to jam and Billy Joel to demonstrate if he could stick tickle ivories. With all this tough love on display, you wished Dennis Wilson was still alive to flick off Love's baseball hat and expose his bald pate, as he did in concerts throughout 1978 before Mike Love filed a restraining order. Ironically, all those people did wind up onstage for the finale all-star jam. There is no evidence of them playing “I Get Around,” but we can see a clip of Mike Love joining "chickenshit" Jagger on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction."


Phil Spector (1989)

Maybe because he was not inducted as a performer (or because he’s now a convicted murderer), any Hall of Fame footage of the Wall of Sound's creator has been scrubbed from the internet. Although he wasn't a performer, his acceptance speech consisted of rambling incoherently and falling off the stage. Which certainly qualifies as entertaining. Even without the wigs.


Creedence Clearwater Revival (1993)

The first year The Hall came up with the bright idea that inducted bands with the original lineup should participate in an all-star jam was the year they inducted Creedence, a band with so much bad blood it bordered on coagulation. Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and the late Tom Fogerty's son all thanked Fantasy Records, the label that sued John Fogerty for plagiarizing himself in a landmark court case. Clifford even mentioned Saul Zaentz, owner of Fantasy Records and the target of Fogerty's uncomplimentary "Zanz Kant Dance" in his thanks, pretty much ensuring John was gonna be playing "Fortunate Son" with The Boss instead of his former bandmates.


The Lovin' Spoonful (2000)

The band who became known for playing "Good Time Music" were all hugs and affection at the podium — a nice change of pace at the usually rancorous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The unpleasantness began when The Lovin’ Spoonful played their set. John Sebastian's voice was incapable of carrying one note successfully to the other, and we later found out he had throat problems since surgery in the early '90s. Sebastian still managed to tour for years after that, with audiences trying not to think of Sebastian's larynx when he croaks "the back of my neck getting dirty and gritty."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic