Pianist Floyd Cramer, drummer Benny Benjamin, saxophonist Steve
Douglas and producer Mo Ostin will be inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2003 in the Sidemen and Non-performer
The Louisiana-born Cramer helped define the Nashville Sound that
dominated country music during his nearly half century of
performing. Cramer developed a signature style on piano, slurring
one note into another, much like a guitarist. And he became the
pianoman of choice among country’s stars including Patsy Cline,
Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson and dozens of
others. He also played with some of country’s rock & roll
cousins including the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison. Cramer also
played numerous sessions with Elvis Presley including “Heartbreak
Hotel.” Though best-known as a sideman, Cramer was also a fairly
prolific solo recording artist, from his 1957 debut, That Honky
Tonk Piano, up to the time of his death in 1997.
Drummer Benny Benjamin kept the beat for the famous Motown house
band, the Funk Brothers. The St. Croix, Virgin Islands, native
began playing in the 1940s. But he was best known for his Sixties
stretch where he and the Funk Brothers — which also included
bassist James Jamerson, who was inducted as a sideman three years
ago — backed up the Temptations, the Supremes, the Four Tops and
Marvin Gaye. Benjamin died in 1969.
Steve Douglas played saxophone in the “Wrecking Crew,” the
session team that worked with Phil Spector at the Goldstar Studio
in Los Angeles. His resume also includes work on the Beach Boys’
Pet Sounds, and sessions with Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, John
Lennon, fellow Rock Hall inductees the Righteous Brothers and
others. Douglas died in 1993 at age fifty-five.
Mo Ostin helped establish Warner Bros. Records one of the
world’s most successful record labels. Ostin was brought in to work
at Frank Sinatra’s fledgling Reprise Records in the early Sixties,
and when the company was purchased by Warner Bros., he oversaw a
roster of artists that includes Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni
Mitchell, Paul Simon and others. He continued to guide Warner in
the Eighties, helping to acquire acts including R.E.M. and the Red
Hot Chili Peppers. He left Warner in the mid-Nineties and now works
as an executive at Dreamworks Records.
As previously reported, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, the
Clash, the Police, AC/DC and the Righteous Brothers will be
inducted as 2003’s artists.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled
for March 10th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The
ceremony will be broadcast by VH1 on March 19th.