There were naysayers present at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday night. With a lineup that included folkie James Taylor and blueswoman Bonnie Raitt as well as a third-time inductee, Eric Clapton, an advance buzz backstage had it that the ceremony would be something of a clunker.
What transpired was one of the most diverse ceremonies in the Hall's fifteen-year history. While the presenters had plenty of time to gush about each inductee's influence onstage, backstage, the new Hall of Famers got their chance to gush.
"Let's be honest, guys, it's wonderful to be inducted," said the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian, addressing a roomful of reporters. "But we did three years of very hard work. Harvey Fuqua and the Moonglows did close to forty. I just want to keep our perspective alive." Sebastian also attributed the Spoonful's fraternal longevity to never reaching "the level of dysfunctionality that other groups have."
Bonnie Raitt offered hope for the future of blueswomen with a wink to presenter Melissa Etheridge. "I think there's a lot of great women coming up and there'll be more. As long as there's men to give women the blues, and now women to give women the blues, there'll be blues." She only answered a few questions before taking off to catch Eric Clapton's performance.
Earth Wind and Fire, clearly elated to be joined again by their leader Maurice White, who admitted last week that he has been suffering from Parkinson's Disease, elaborated on their set. White called it "pure joy," while vocalist Philip Bailey added, "We experienced magic together . . . All the memories are flooding back."
Arista head Clive Davis, who was inducted as a non-performer, deflected questions about his much-speculated employment future. "I'm not prepared right now to stop working," he said. "I hope each of you at the end of your contract have as many options as I have. Don't worry about me."
Drummer Earl Palmer, who entered the Hall as part of the new Sidemen category, made light of his belated induction. "I'm glad I got this now," said Palmer, holding his award. "But I wish I got it when I was strong enough to carry it."
Natalie Cole fielded questions about her father, Nat King Cole, who was inducted as an Early Influence. "I think he would be slightly mortified," she said of his induction. "Especially because that was just so not him. He was so laid back and so very cool and so very jazz/pop oriented. And at the same time, I think he would think it was a big deal. I think he would actually be very pleased."