I used to do a yearly review of the induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame every year, but I’ve neglected it the last couple years. But I caught the ceremony on HBO this year and thought I’d write something up about it. Among the inductees were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys and Guns and Roses.
The induction of the Beastie Boys was made all the more poignant by the death of Adam Yauch right at the time the ceremony started airing. He wasn’t at the induction because he was obviously very sick and fighting cancer. The Beasties were easy to dismiss because of their first big hit, which was a rather juvenile song about partying. But they started out as a punk band and their later material was often intelligent and unique. If the only thing you know about them is that first song, check out some of their later stuff. The remaining members of the band didn’t perform, but the Roots Band, Kid Rock and several others performed Sabotage. And as much as I loathe Kid Rock, it was actually a pretty good performance (though not because of him). They were inducted by LL Cool J and Chuck D, which tells you a lot about the respect they had even as a white group in hip hop.
Chris Rock, of all people, inducted the Red Hot Chili Peppers and talked about seeing them in their very early days opening for Grandmaster Flash. They put on a blistering performance, though I’m still trying to figure out why they had two extra drummers on stage. I’m also trying to figure out when Will Ferrell started playing drums for them (seriously, could Chad Smith look more like Ferrell?). The coolest thing about the Chili Peppers was the respect they paid to George Clinton, who is pretty much the definition of funk.
A lot of attention was paid to the fact that Axl Rose refused the induction and didn’t show up for the ceremony. Chris Rock got off the line of the night when he said that even if Axl had planned to be there, he wouldn’t have gotten there until after the show was over anyway. Izzy Stradlin also didn’t show up for some reason. But the rest of the band was there, including both drummers, Steven Adler and Matt Sorum. It was good to see the band include Adler, who was thrown out for doing too many drugs (as Matt Sorum said, “How the fuck is that possible in Guns and Roses?”) in the early 90s. It reminded me of Metallica including Jason Newsted when they were inducted, which is a gracious thing to do. If only Axl was half as gracious, but he is forever being the drama queen.
Guns and Roses performed two songs, the brilliant Sweet Child O’ Mine and the vastly overrated Paradise City (the weakest song on Appetite for Destruction, which Billie Joe Armstrong plausibly called the greatest debut album in rock history). Steven Adler played on both of them and it was good to see him back on stage, clean and sober and still playing well. Slash was incredible as always; there may be many guitarists who are more technically flashy than he is, but few can match his tone and feel.
Unfortunately, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to ignore some of the most important bands in rock history. I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys, but how on earth do they get in before Deep Purple, Rush, the Doobie Brothers, Heart, Bad Company, Yes, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden and many more? Even a band like KISS, which I think is about the most boring band in the world, clearly deserves to be in the hall of fame just for their popularity and influence. How about Peter Frampton? Or Kansas? Come on, guys. Those bands all need to be in, long before most of the band that have been inducted the last few years.