With a myriad of genres represented, from doo-wop to hip-hop, the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was a showcase for the past 50 years of popular music.
“I think when you tell the truth — whether it’s positive or negative — you reach people,” said inductee and Cleveland native Bobby Womack. “Whatever it is in your life, just be truthful about it.”
Womack came backstage with Rolling Stone Ron Wood, who referred to Womack as ‘my mentor.’ ” It was night of reunions, as Jeff Beck was honored by his childhood friend, Led Zeppelin founder and guitarist Jimmy Page, and Metallica came backstage and posed for photos with former bassist Jason Newsted, who left on less-than-amicable terms in 2001.
Rev. Run and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of newly inducted hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. shared a few laughs backstage. McDaniels also hugged Connie Mizell, the late Jam-Master Jay’s mother. The two had a brief feud in 2006 after Mizell publicly blasted McDaniels’ lack of communication with her following Jay’s murder. As the night wore on and a litany of stars and legends continued to stream backstage, it became obvious that this particular show, the first in the Hall’s hometown of Cleveland, wasn’t going to be an echo of the awkward 2007 ceremony. That year, old feuds threatened to derail the positive aura of the night, with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five refusing to take photos together, and former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth leaving right before he was to be inducted after not being allowed to perform the song of his choice.
The two acts that had waited the longest for induction debuted in the 1950s: rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson and doo-wop stars Little Anthony and the Imperials. “This is one thing that we always can look at and say ‘nobody can take this away from us,’ ” said Little Anthony. “We earned it fair and square.”
Eddie LeVert of the O’Jays — who were inducted in 2005 — gave simple advice to the new class for handling the adulation of the ceremony: “Bathe in it!” –todd williams