For understandable reasons, the country is so focused on the presidential election right now that almost nobody is talking about the upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But on Saturday night, the 2020 class of Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, T-Rex, Nine Inch Nails, Whitney Houston, and the Notorious B.I.G. will finally enter the institution.
Needless to say, this will not be an ordinary induction ceremony. It’s going to be a virtual event featuring speeches, performances, a tribute to Eddie Van Halen, and appearances by Luke Bryan, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Miley Cyrus, Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl, Don Henley, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Chris Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brad Paisley, Bruce Springsteen, St. Vincent, Ringo Starr, Gwen Stefani, Charlize Theron, and Nancy Wilson in addition to the 2020 inductees.
The plan before the pandemic hit was to hold the induction at Cleveland’s Public Hall on May 2nd. The historic venue seats 10,000 fans and was a mainstay on the Sixties and Seventies rock circuit, hosting everyone from the Beatles and Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin.
Most of the induction ceremonies in the first 25 years of the Hall of Fame were held in the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom in New York City. It was an intimate, black-tie event for industry insiders, but in 2009, the Hall changed course by staging the event at Public Hall to a capacity crowd. Jeff Beck, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Metallica, Run-DMC, and Bobby Womack entered the Hall of Fame that night. It was such a huge success that the Hall of Fame said goodbye to the Waldorf after the 2011 event and permanently moved the ceremony to large venues where the public would have a chance to share in the fun.
Here’s video of Metallica ripping through “Master of Puppets” with former bassist Jason Newsted at the 2009 ceremony. It was an incredible moment that simply wouldn’t have felt the same in a stuffy hotel ballroom with people seated at tables dressed in tuxes and designer gowns.
It’s sad to think of the show Cleveland could have seen this year with Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and the Doobie Brothers on the bill along with tributes to T-Rex, Whitney Houston, and the Notorious B.I.G. We’re sure the HBO virtual event will do all the acts justice, but we’re looking forward to the 2021 event when we’ll hopefully be back in Public Hall where this thing belongs.