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Randy Newman Defends Disco at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

‘I didn’t even understand the knock on it,’ singer and songwriter says

Though Randy Newman doesn’t evoke the image of a traditional rocker, with tuneful, mordant piano songs, the proflic singer-songwriter got his due from the rock world last night with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s an honor and it means something to the public,” Newman said. “And whatever means something to them means a great deal to me.”

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As an inductee from outside rock’s typical sphere, Newman prefers not to draw hard lines between genres. “I don’t like people who are doctrinaire about ‘this is rock & roll and that’s not rock & roll,'” Newman said. “I like the fact that Donna Summer, the fact that disco [gets recognition].”

Newman disdained the backlash against disco, referring to the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1979, and the burning of records in particular. “The records were kind of great. What the Bee Gees did was kind of great,” Newman said. “I didn’t even understand the knock on it, exactly. . . . That big bass drum never went away.”

Interview by Matt Diehl; text by RJ Cubarrubia.


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