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Alice Cooper, Dr. John & Tom Waits Rock n Roll HoF Inductions — What They Play & What They Say

March 15th, 2011 · No Comments · Music


 Got live if you want it . . .

The last great Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. There’ll never be another with as many key, great musical artists in one year.

The following is a customized composite of tweets, blogs n news reports on the untelevised Induction ceremony, including sequence and set-lists, with my own additions knowing the scene from being at a couple of these . . .
Just what they say, and what they play.
In order. Because none of the post-event reports really paint the picture of what happened.

Some portion of it will be aired this Sunday from 9–11PM Eastern on the Fuse cable network.

There’s a buncha good jokes  😉
some poetic praisings
and life-lessons learned …

It was a five hour show — from 8:30 to 1:30 AM

Bruce Springsteen is in the house, mingling with Bette Midler and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Michael Douglas says, “If you haven’t seen Dr. John in a while, he’s playing great.”
“wonder if Bruce and Tom Waits will do Jersey Girl?”
Also in the audience: Bob Geldof, Robbie Robertson, Michael J. Fox, John McEnroe …

8:35-ish — Jann Wenner — opens it — “The New York Health Dept. shot down our plans for an Elton John–Bette Midler aerial battle!”

John Legend inducts Dr. John — who he first met at a Hurricane Katrina benefit.  He eloquently documented the Doctor’s half-century as a “musical ambassador” for New Orleans, including his work with The Meters, and in collaborating with icons from John Lennon to Doc Pomus.
Legend’s conclusion? “He has never stopped flying the flag of funk.”

Dr. John, in a royal purple suit, wearing shades, a fedora and with his gris-gris walking stick, and also sporting some wicked snakeskin shoes.
Asked where to buy them? “At the pimp store!”

He thanked a long list of persons whose tutelage had made him who he was – a list that included New Orleans greats like Professor Longhair and Huey “Piano” Smith. And jokingly concluded, “If I didn’t mention you – too terrible!”
“I feel like I’m blessed to get an award from y’all — I feel like I’m blessed to be standing, to be breathing.  We just buried my drummer Saturday.  He’d been my drummer for 37 years.  I’ve played with a lot of cats for a long time because … we love what we do.”
“And all y’all that’s in this thing tonight…you’re blessed to be here.”

Lloyd Price inducted Art Rupe (record exec who signed Little Richard, Sam Cooke & others).
Doors’ drummer John Densmore is playing a djembe while inducting Jac Holzman (founder of Elektra Records).

Bette Midler inducts Darlene Love!
Such a pro! Every joke is so natural, she commands the stage.
“I spent 2 hours on hair & makeup, and I’m wearing a very serious undergarment — I’m using my whole 5 minutes!”
She’s killing. Who knew jokes about Lipitor and Viagra could be so rock n’ roll?
“At least now when you Google ‘bette midler rock and roll hall of fame,’ SOMETHING will come up.”

Then she thanked Love for “changing my view of the world” and called Love “the embodiment of teen spirit” in her era.
“No voice drove me crazier than Darlene Love’s. From the moment I experienced the powerhouse that was Darlene, I was a goner.”
“After her, all of us wanted to meet Rebel boys.  She picked us up by the scruff of our neck and shook the starch out of us. She has been robbed of royalties, but by no means of self-respect, and yet she lives without a trace of bitterness.”

Darlene Love accepting — glowing, glamorous, gorgeous. And that VOICE!  She’s 69 and looking & sounding fabulous.
Love fought back tears in her acceptance speech, saying she had faith that the gift God gave her would sustain her for the rest of her life.
Her speech elicited a standing ovation.

Springsteen and Tom Waits are having a vigorous handshake as Stooges music blasts through the hall.

Rock devil and occasional CSI: Miami director Rob Zombie inducts Alice Cooper.
Zombie’s decrying the state of rock music before Alice Cooper came on scene in 1969. Telling story of Alice Cooper’s start – with the aid of a Frank Zappa puppet.
“Alice Cooper invented the rock show. Before Alice Cooper, there was no rock show.”
“They’re more than a band. They were more like a murderous gang of drag queens … in a good way.”

Alice Cooper gives his induction speech with a giant yellow (live) snake on his shoulders.
He’s wearing a tux with his trademark black eye makeup, and a shirt splattered with blood.
After 16 years of eligibility, Alice Cooper said that getting into the hall was “like graduating. I feel like I’m getting a diploma — becoming a real person, ya know?”

He cited the Kinks, The Who and The Yardbirds, and said, “We’ve always been a hard rock band. We just wanted to decorate it a little differently.”
He singled out Glen Buxton for special praise, calling him “the heart and soul of our band, as black and dark as it may be.”
“I hope I never outgrow a Pete Townsend windmill chord,” he said. “I hope I never outgrow a Jeff Beck lead guitar. I wish I could tell you that being in the Hall now, we’ll never embarrass you, but I really can’t make that promise. After all, we are Alice Cooper. It’s what we do.”

Then each of the three surviving band members spoke.

They’re the first live performers of the night — and ultimately the only ones who play before the later all-music portion of the evening.
He and the original band perform “I’m Eighteen
Under My Wheels
then “School’s Out” with Rob Zombie and schookids dressed like Alice.

“Alice Cooper (as a whole) has very cool outfits.”
Alice brings his giant snake to the press room.  😉

The following is from AC original bassist Dennis Dunaway’s daughter Renee . . .
“My dad & unk are INDUCTED!!!!”
[she must have married a nephew of one of the other bandmembers …?!]
“my dad is sparkling like crazy!”
“Bette Midler’s pointing and enjoying my dad. This is a dream.”
“Dad’s high kicks, ‘my bass is a machine gun’ — and bass-above-the-head move in full effect.”

Neil Young makes a loopily poetic introduction for Tom Waits.  “This next man is indescribable . . . and I’m here to describe him.”
Then called him a “magician, a spirit guide, a changeling.”

At the podium, Tom Waits took a bow, gave a tip of his hat, and said —
“Songs are interesting things to do with the air.”
on songwriting: “It’s like fishing, you gotta be quiet to catch the good ones.”
on his family: “They know me, and they love me anyway.”
on the industry:  “They say that I have no hits and I’m difficult to work with.  And they say that like it’s a bad thing.”

He recalled how, at age 15, he’d snuck in to see Lightnin’ Hopkins by putting “Wite-Out in my hair and drawing on a moustache.”
He compared his induction to receiving the key to the city of El Paso. “They told me there was only one,” he said, “but I found out there were a whole bunch of them, and they didn’t open anything.  So I hope there are some fringe benefits to this baby.”

Holding the statuette, he noted that it was “really heavy.  I’m wondering if there’s a keychain version I can keep on me so some day a guy will say ‘Pete, take the cuffs off — he’s a Hall of Famer.’”

Elton John inducts his hero Leon Russell with lots of “colorful metaphors.”
Elton on Leon: “You have to have someone to aspire to, or you’ll never achieve greatness.”
“I’m proud to induct a man who could eat me alive on piano.”

Leon Russell walked on stage slowly with the help of a cane and gave the shortest speech of the night.  He says: “Thank you very much. I appreciate it, and Hallelujah.”
Then he thanks Elton for their collaboration, saying he “found me in a ditch at the side of a highway of life and took me up to the high stages with big audiences, and treated me like a king.”

“When Neil Diamond was younger he was known as the Jewish Elvis Presley….” said Paul Simon.  “In many synagogues across the country, Elvis was considered a bogus Neil Diamond.”

“Why so long?” wondered Simon while saluting Diamond, before answering his own question. “I have a theory. Six words: ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore.’ Beautiful love song. Recorded with Barbra Streisand, one of the great voices of our time. But Barbra Streisand, rock and roll? I don’t think they even allow that kind of DNA near this place.”

Neil Diamondcomes out snapping photos on his iPhone as the fans in the balcony go wild.  Then says, “People in the $3000 seats, I love ya, but you make too much money.”
“I love you, too — even though you didn’t vote for me.”
addressing a ballroom full of music-business figures:  “Anybody here that I’ve worked with, will they admit it?”
Neil Diamond makes a rambling, disjointed, obscenity-laden speech.  “Where are we? What day is it? What time is it? And what the f*** country is this?”

Diamond, who had interrupted an Australian tour to come to the ceremony, deadpanned, “I write songs,” before explaining why his induction was so vital he flew halfway around to world to concentrate. “Being accepted by your peers and by people that you idolize is very special,” he said, “So I’m very pleased to be part of this shindig tonight. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

“Trust me, Neil Diamond’s acceptance speech is not to be missed! A speech for the ages.”

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11:30 PM — The main performance portion begins with Tom Waits.
There’s the smell of weed in the darkened tuxedoed room as he begins to play.

Tom performs “Make It Rain,” — belted out with raw gusto
Rain Dogs,”
House Where Nobody Lives
then Tom pulls Neil Young onstage to jam on “Get Behind the Mule.”
“Waits is so twitchy and awesome.”
“Tom Waits set is amazing!  One of the best-ever.”
Waits was accompanied by his son Casey on drums, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos on guitar and accordion, Larry Taylor on bass, and Marc Ribot on guitar.

Surprise guest Judy Collins serenades Jac Holzman with a soaring  “Both Sides Now.”

Dr. John turns it up a notch withRight Place Wrong Time,” with full-force backing from Letterman’s Late Night band with Will Lee & Anton Fig. 
He’s joined by an exuberant John Legend, trading verses and solos on “Such a Night.”

“Song of the night so far.”
“I’m pretty sure Dr. John has 4 hands….
“John Legend can sure roll those keys — even in the presence of the Doctor.”

Surprise guest John Mayer adds tasty guitar to Leon Russell‘s “A Song for You.”  — he killed it w/o stealing center stage.
Leon also does “Delta Lady.”

“John Legend + Dr. John = hotter than John Mayer + Leon Russell.”
Renee Dunaway

Bruce Springsteen’s playing guitar for Darlene Love’s set,
which opens with a funkified “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” then
“(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and
He’s a Rebel” doing a rousing duet with Bette Midler, all with Springsteen on his twangy Telecaster.
“Holy pipes, Batman! Darlene Love sounds amazing!”

1:00 AM — “Neil Diamond‘s power is taking over me…”
he works the crowd, rocking into the wee hours with
Cherry, Cherry,”
I Am…I Said
and a euphoric “Sweet Caroline” — where he gets Springsteen to join him.
“Now he’s down in the audience.  Now he’s standing on chair. Now Jann Wenner’s singing along.”
Sweet Caroline — the song that miraculously becomes more fun the more times you repeat the chorus.”

4 Hall of Famers doing —>
* “Stagger Lee” ! ! ! — the Three Masters — Dr. John, Leon Russell, and Elton John — all with Lloyd Price takin lead vocal.

1:30 AM — Surreal finale:
Da Doo Ron Ron” — with Darlene Love, Bette Midler, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell & Elton John.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

A Stagger Lee Addendum:

The 2nd last song of the night was  “Stagger Lee” sung by one of it’s most closely-associated artists, Lloyd Price, with Dr. John, Elton John and Leon Russell — which i cannot fuckin believe they played — on piano — on three pianos!  — it’s a fantastic, historic, multi-versioned song,  but traditionally a blues guitar — pray to gawd they air it, but i somehow doubt they will.  But i bet it’s gonna be the rock-hard crystal-clear musical diamond of the night. 😉 (and from what I heard, the Such A Night with John Legend was the other one)

Here’s the original Mississippi John Hurt “Stagger Lee” — he was another of those most closely associated with the original song.

Then here’s Taj Mahal doin’ it old school —

Then here’s a Lloyd Price version — the guy who rides vocals with Dr. John it filled with grand piano solos by 3 different masters)

And here’s a jaw-dropping updated version by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds —

And here’s Jerry & the boys doin’ it — 😉

Sir Really


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For more Adventures in Music — you may want to check out the (Route) 66 Best live performances ever captured on film.

Or take the New Orleans Jazz Fest ride.

Or how The Grateful Dead came to play my 30th birthday.

Or the night Dylan showed up at Springsteen’s show at Shea Stadium in New York.

Or Paul Simon doing Graceland in Hyde Park in London.

Or Furthur came back and reprised the Dead at Madison Square Garden.

Or when the Dead, Janis, The Band and others took the Festival Express train trip across Canada.

Or the night I was hanging with Dr. John’s band in Toronto.

Or here’s the day I finally “got” Bob Dylan

Or the night we all lost John Lennon

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by Brian Hassett         

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