Black Keys: We Regret Inducting Steve Miller After Rock Hall Insults
Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has had multiple “sleepless nights” since inducting Steve Miller into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last Friday. Miller has become the unlikely focal point of the ceremony after calling the music industry “fuckin’ gangsters and crooks” and lobbing verbal grenades at his record label rep (“I wanted to pull him by his necktie and kick him in the nuts”) and the Hall of Fame itself (“Everybody is kind of a dick and an asshole.”)
But while many on social media have applauded the 72-year-old rocker’s candor, Auerbach, who grew up a huge Miller fan, sees it differently. “He said, ‘The whole process was unpleasant,'” Auerbach tells Rolling Stone. “And for [Black Keys drummer] Pat [Carney] and I, honestly, the most unpleasant part was being around him.” The group left Barclays Center midway through Miller’s performance and never came back.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the typically jovial Auerbach sounded despondent, using the word “disappointed” numerous times to describe his encounter with Miller and experience that night. For the first time in the Rock Hall’s 30-year history, an artist has essentially recanted his induction speech, with the guitarist-singer, speaking on behalf of the group, wanting to explain his side of Friday night.
What do you think about what’s happened the past four days?
Um, well, I guess Pat and I definitely… [Pauses] I guess we felt, I don’t know, we read a lot of things and we got a really uncomfortable feeling when we first met Steve. He had no idea who we were. No idea. The first thing he told us was, “I can’t wait to get out of here.” He knew that we signed up to do this speech for him. And he made no effort to even [laughs uncomfortably] — he didn’t even figure out who we were. I don’t live in New York City. This is like three days out of my life flying from Nashville and leaving my kids at home.
It was just a real eye-opener for us. Because as we get older, I hope that when I’m in my twilight years, I can look back and be grateful to the people who have appreciated me and to be able to give back. Because music is about sharing and passing on inspiration and that was his opportunity to do that; not just lashing out in a way that was just completely unfocused.
“I just had a couple sleepless nights. He really disappointed us.”
What was your initial reaction when you realized that he didn’t know or care who you were?
Pat and I were both definitely disappointed, to say the least. But you never really know what to expect when you meet quote unquote “superstars.” Rock & roll superstars, it used to be different for them. Playing stadiums and selling millions and millions of albums. It’s almost like he doesn’t have respect for the younger generations and how hard it is in the business today. When he made his first record, he did it at Olympic Studios with Glyn Johns. Pat and I made our first record in a basement with broken gear.
But we were there for the same reasons. Because we love music and because I felt like we had a connection just because I come from a place where I love blues music and so does he. And at least we had that connection, but that ended up not mattering in the end.
After he found out who you were, did he make any attempt before or after your speech to say anything to you?
A very mild attempt and it was disingenuous. It almost made it feel worse. He said, “The whole process was unpleasant.” And for Pat and I, honestly, the most unpleasant part was being around him.
You told Rolling Stone after the event, though, that you said, in response to him asking who you were, “That’s why we love you. You don’t pay attention to anything that’s going on in the business.”
Yeah, we didn’t want to stir any shit. We realized right away that he didn’t care, so we were trying to tiptoe around him. But the more we keep hearing about it, the more I just wanted to let people know how we felt about the whole situation.
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