Nobody knows what got underneath Mike Love’s skin when the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. It was only the third ceremony and they were getting in alongside the Beatles and Bob Dylan, so he could hardly feel his group was somehow getting dissed. But when he took to the podium, out came the most notorious speech in Hall of Fame history.
“The Beach Boys did about 180 performances last year,” he said. “I’d like to see the Mop Tops match that! I’d like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do ‘I Get Around’ versus ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ any day now. And I’d like to see some people kick out the jams, and I challenge the Boss to get up on stage and jam.”
At this point Paul Shaffer and his band kicked into “Good Vibrations” in an attempt to get him to stop, but Love wasn’t quite done. “I wanna see Billy Joel, see if he can still tickle ivories,” he said. “I know Mick Jagger won’t be here tonight, he’s gonna have to stay in England. But I’d like to see us in the Coliseum and he at Wembley Stadium because he’s always been chickenshit to get on stage with the Beach Boys.”
It was a night of notable absences, with Diana Ross and Paul McCartney staying home due to feuds with their groups, but Mick Jagger was indeed in the audience. To put it mildly, the rest of the Beach Boys were horrified. “Carl Wilson came up to me afterward,” said Shaffer. “He handed me his award and said, ‘Our career is over.'”
Longtime Beach Boys touring guitarist Jeff Foskett was on hand for the event. “He wanted it to be a challenge,” he told Rolling Stone in 2009. “But it just came out wrong.” In a 2013 interview with the Guardian, Love tried to explain himself. “I hadn’t meditated that morning,” he said. “It was so funny. Someone said to me: ‘Hey Mike. You’re either meditating too much or not enough!'”
Bob Dylan took the stage not long after the Beach Boys and delivered the line of the night. “I want to thank Mike Love for not mentioning me,” he said. “I play a lot of dates every year, too. Peace, love and harmony is greatly important indeed, but so is forgiveness and we gotta have that too.”
Ringo Starr, who will receive the Award For Musical Excellence at next year’s ceremony, was in the ballroom that night, but doesn’t remember the speech. “Yeah,” he said. “I don’t ever listen to what he has to say.”