Article 1990-01-17 New York City, NY

Rock Hall of Fame Opens The Gates to Pop Artists

From the stage of the Waldorf-Astoria's Grand Ballroom, Ray Davies of the Kinks surveyed the music-business crowd assembled for the fifth annual Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. ''Rock-and-roll has become respectable,'' he said, gazing at all the tuxedos (including his own) and formal gowns. ''What a bummer.''

Earnestness and nostalgia, laced with occasional irreverence, set the tone for the ceremony Wednesday night, as young rockers paid tribute and handed trophies to their elders. In the first Hall of Fame ceremony that embraced pop performers as well as rock pioneers, the Kinks were inducted along with the Who, the Platters, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, the Four Tops, Hank Ballard, Bobby Darin and the Four Seasons, the songwriting teams of Gerry Goffin and Carole King and Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland - all of whom became eligible 25 years after their first recording. There were also awards for the pre-rock pioneers Ma Rainey, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Christian.

Bono Vox of U2, inducting the Who, offered the theory that a great band needs ''a great nose - it's essential equipment,'' referring to the prominent proboscis of the Who's leader, Pete Townshend. Mr. Townshend said that the Who's role in rock was as ''an irritant,'' and that when it came to newer music from the streets, the job of rock's older generation was to get out of the way. Mandy Moon, daughter of the Who's late drummer Keith Moon, noted that her father had been banned from the Waldorf-Astoria for his wild behavior.

'Happy Couples' Hailed

Paul Simon started out by saying, ''Arthur and I agree about almost nothing,'' and proposed a Hall of Fame wing for ''happy couples'' like Ike and Tina Turner, the Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel. He also explained how the pair, recording as Tom and Jerry, had its first hit, ''Hey, Schoolgirl,'' played on the radio in New York: it paid the disk jockey Alan Freed $200 a week and signed over to him the publishing royalties on the next song. ''We thought it was a great deal,'' Mr. Simon said. Mr. Simon also thanked the late Goddard Lieberson, then head of Columbia Records, for allowing the pair to record as Simon and Garfunkel rather than the name suggested by Columbia's artists-and-repertory department, the Catchers in the Rye.

Hank Ballard, composer of ''The Twist'' and of racy early rock songs like ''Work With Me Annie'' and ''Annie Had a Baby,'' broke down in sobs, and could not continue, as he began his speech by thanking his wife and manager, Teresa MacNeil, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in October 1989. Mr. Davies read what he said was a record-company memo to the effect that the Kinks were ''difficult to promote'' and should be dropped from the label if sales didn't improve, then added that the memo was 25 years old. Stevie Wonder, presenting the award to the Four Tops, thanked them because, he said, ''They've all let me drive their car at various times.'' Mr. Wonder is blind.

Phil Spector, one of rock's most celebrated recluses, gave a short, incoherent speech last year when he was inducted. This year, inducting the Platters, he chided his imitators, like Eric Carmen and Bruce Springsteen (who was in the audience) and suggested, ''Next time we overthrow a dictator, let it be the one in South Africa,'' before praising the Platters.

After Speeches, a Jam Session

The speeches were followed by a jam session whose participants ranged from the teen-aged Debbie Gibson to musicians three times her age. Among the unlikely spectacles on stage were Sting singing ''Mack the Knife'' in German and Diana Ross, who had inducted the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, dancing in a black-lace hoop skirt to the Who's ''Pinball Wizard.'' By 1:30 A.M., Simon and Garfunkel had put aside their bitterness to harmonize on ''The Boxer.''

The Hall of Fame itself, an exhibition hall and archive to be built in Cleveland, has been in planning stages for five years. But Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine and the Hall of Fame's executive vice president, announced that most of the design and the financing - $30 million for the estimated $50 million project - were complete, and that construction would begin before 1991. ''The shovel will hit the dirt this year,'' he said.

By Jon Pareles via The New York Times.
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