The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is just two days away, and there’s still a ton we don’t know about it. There’s been no announcement yet of who’s inducting Jay-Z, Todd Rundgren, Kraftwerk, Charley Patton, Gil Scott-Heron, Billy Preston, or Randy Rhoads. We also don’t know how the producers are going to deal with Rundgren’s absence (he has a show in Cincinnati that night), whether Tina Turner is going to fly in from Switzerland to attend (feels unlikely), and how they’ll handle the performances for the inductees who are no longer among the living.
We do know that Taylor Swift will be inducting Carole King and performing one of her songs along with Jennifer Hudson. Angela Bassett is inducting Tina Turner, and Christina Aguilera, Mickey Guyton, H.E.R., and Bryan Adams will take part in a tribute to her. Lionel Richie is going to honor Clarence Avant, Drew Barrymore is speaking on behalf of the Go-Go’s, and Paul McCartney will induct the Foo Fighters.
McCartney didn’t show up when the Beatles were inducted back in 1988 due to a business spat with his former bandmates. “I was keen to go to [the dinner] and pick up my award,” he said in a statement, “but after 20 years the Beatles still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven’t been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with [Harrison and Starr] at a fake reunion.”
Their issues were resolved by the time John Lennon was inducted as a solo artist in 1994, and McCartney was in the house that night to give the induction speech. He read it as a letter to his old friend. “I remember writing our first songs together,” he said. “We used to go to my house, my dad’s house, and we used to smoke Typhoo tea with this pipe my dad kept in a drawer. It didn’t do much for us, but it got us on the road. … So now, years on, here we are. All these people. Here we are, assembled, to thank you for everything that you mean to all of us. This letter comes with love, from your friend Paul. John Lennon, you’ve made it. Tonight you are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
It took McCartney another five years to receive his own solo induction, rankling his daughter Stella to the point where she showed up to the ceremony wearing a T-shirt that read “About Fucking Time.” This was a little under a year after the death of Linda McCartney, and Paul was in an understandably emotional state when he stepped up to the podium. “This is brilliant for me,” he said. “But it’s brilliant/sad, of course, ’cause I would have liked my baby to share this with me. She wanted this. But it’s beautiful. She’s beautiful. It’s all beautiful. We’re cool.” (He then called Stella up onstage to show off the “About Fucking Time” shirt, suggesting that maybe the five-year wait wasn’t so cool.)
He shook all this off when it came to perform. He was being honored for his solo work, but he opted to play the Carl Perkins classic “Blue Suede Shoes,” and an epic rendition of “Let It Be” with Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Robbie Robertson, Eric Clapton, the Staple Singers, Dion DiMucci, Wilson Pickett, and many others. Check out the video right here.
We have no idea what’s on tap for the Hall of Fame this time around. Will McCartney join the Foos for “Everlong”? Might we see the Go-Gos’, Carole King, and Taylor Swift play “99 Problems” with Jay-Z? Will Beyoncé step out from the audience to perform the full 22-minute version of “Autobahn” with Kraftwerk? Or maybe Blue Ivy Carter will make her professional debut by singing “Crazy Train” on behalf of Randy Rhoads. We’ll find out Saturday night in Cleveland.