Article 1993-01-12 Los Angeles, CA

A Night of Reunion, Animosity, Absence : Pop music: Hall of Fame inductees Cream played together for the first time in 23 years, but Creedence Clearwater Revival did not. Van, and Jim, Morrison were no-shows.

The joke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was that there was more chance of the late Jim Morrison showing up than the reclusive Van Morrison.

So, let's finally put those recurring "Jim Morrison is still alive" rumors to rest.

If the troubled yet charismatic singer and poet, who led the Doors and his generation on a search for truth in a psychedelic age, didn't surface at the Century Plaza Hotel on Tuesday night for this emotionally charged occasion, you know he's indeed safely encased in a grave in Paris (where he was buried after a fatal heart attack in 1971).

Who could pass up the night the record industry inducted your bandand seven other recording actsinto the Hall of Fame? Wouldn't you want to take your place alongside such illustrious rock names as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and the Beatles?

And even though the other Morrison was a no-show (something about prior commitments in Europe), you can bet he may someday regret missing the chance to participate in what was a night of frequently enchanting rock 'n' roll magic and memories. Even the elusive Sly Stone found his way to the podium, along with other honorees Cream, Ruth Brown, Etta James and the surviving members of the Doors, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Creedence Clearwater Revival. (Inducted in special categories were TV host Dick Clark, singer Dinah Washington and record producer-executive Milt Gabler.)

There are bound to be complaints once more that the induction ceremonyheld outside of New York for the first timewas too long: a four-hour affair that ended at 1 a.m.

But if length is a problem for you on a night when Cream is giving its first public performance in more than two decades and John Fogerty is joined by Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson for three of his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits, you probably don't understand why there's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first place.

The speeches, which occupied the first three hours of the program, were sometimes stirring, sometimes mundane. The music, which highlighted the final hour, was consistently stirring—reaching an emotional peak perhaps during the closing Cream segment.

Unlike the past seven induction ceremonies in New York, the inductees and guests weren't called on stage at the end for a largely spontaneous jam session—a practice that produced some marvelous musical match-ups some years, but which degenerated other years into unfocused free-for-alls with frequently minor artists hogging the microphone.

To avoid a repeat of that chaos, Robbie Robertson, a cinch for future Hall of Fame induction himself as a member of the Band, designed a more formal musical program for Tuesday's affair.

During the induction portion of the evening, Brown (joined by Bonnie Raitt) and James each performed one number, while the vocal group Boyz II Men delivered "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" in honor of Frankie Lymon (who died in 1968) & the Teenagers.

The night's centerpiece, however, was the final hour when the Doors, Fogerty and Cream each performed three numbers.

Eddie Vedder, whose aggressive antics as a front man for the band Pearl Jam are sometimes so excessive that he looks like a man who has seen too many Jim Morrison videos, was surprisingly restrained as he joined the three surviving members of the Doors on lead vocal.

Realizing this was their night, Vedder simply filled in for Morrison rather than competing for attention as keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Kreiger and drummer John Densmore reprised "Roadhouse Blues," "Break on Through" and the group's first Top 40 hit, 1967's "Light My Fire."

The audience gave the Doorsconsidered by many to be the most important rock band ever from Los Angelesa standing ovation and settled back for an expected reunion of Creedence Clearwater Revival: singer-guitarist John Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. But it wasn't to be.

Creedencewhose original line-up also included the late Tom Fogerty on rhythm guitarbroke up amid bitter personal and professional differences in 1972, and the wounds still aren't healed.

Fogerty, the group's main creative force, joined Cook and Clifford on stage during the induction ceremony, but he vetoed any trace of reunion later, during the performances.

Instead, it was guitarists Springsteen and Robbie Robertson at his side as he kicked off his set with the socially conscious "Who'll Stop the Rain."

They were backed by the evening's house band, led by bassist Don Was and including Jim Keltner on drums plus Roy Bittan and Benmont Tench on keyboards. With Robertson on lead guitar, Springsteen also joined on rhythm guitar and backing vocals as Fogerty continued with rousing versions of "Green River" and "Born on the Bayou."

After another standing ovation from the estimated 1,400 fans at the black-tie dinner, Eric Clapton's guitar introduction to "Sunshine of Your Love" signaled the start of Cream's historic reunion performance.

With Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums, the blues-based trio demonstrated, as they did in the '60s, how exciting sheer virtuosity can be in rock. The performancewhich included "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Crossroads"was understandably ragged, but Clapton's guitar work was eloquent as always, offering a soulful extension of his brilliant stylings of the '60s.

As much as the music itself, Cream's performance was touching as a symbol of rock 'n' roll survival—both the enduring power of the music and the opportunity for musical creators to be able to accept the affection and salute of a record industry that was forever changed by their collective imaginations.

In that spirit, the absence of Jim Morrison seemed all the more poignant. As one of his old bandmates said when asked before the ceremony about whether the rebellious rocker would have attended such a formal affair: "Absolutely… . he would have loved it. Jim never felt that we had made it as big as we should have made it. He wanted it to be like the Beatles and the Stones."

By Robert Hilburn via The Los Angeles Times.

Playing in Reunion, Cream Is the Finale Of Rock Ceremonies

A searing three-song reunion of Cream, the British psychedelic blues-rock band that last performed publicly in 1968, was the finale and climax of the eighth annual Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums tore into two classic blues songs, Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," along with Cream's own blues "Sunshine of Your Love," revamping the trio's old arrangements and playing with the improvisational spark that made Cream's concert-length jam sessions legendary 1960's events. "If the three of us can be together again," Mr. Bruce said, "anybody can be together again." Backstage, Mr. Bruce had said of the group's bitter breakup, "I'm completely happy that we all split up because we're all still alive."

The ceremony, held on Tuesday night at the Century Plaza Hotel here, was the first to take place outside New York. California was the obvious choice not only because Los Angeles is a music-business center, but also because four new members of the Hall of Fame had California roots: the Doors and Etta James from Los Angeles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sly and the Family Stone from San Francisco. The ceremony will return to New York next year.

Along with Cream, the other new members of the Hall of Fame are the rhythm-and-blues singer Ruth Brown, the Irish singer and songwriter Van Morrison, the doo-wop group Frankie Lymon and the Teen-Agers, the jazz and blues singer Dinah Washington (honored as an early influence on rock) and two nonperformers, Dick Clark of "American Bandstand" and Milt Gabler, who produced "Rock Around the Clock," Louis Jordan and Billie Holiday. Of the living new Hall of Fame members, only Van Morrison did not appear to receive his award; he sent a fax apologizing for "work commitments in Europe."

The evening was, as always, a combination of reminiscences and wisecracks, sincere tributes and aw-shucks acceptances, wariness about a museum of rock and pride at the recognition. "Until very recently I didn't believe in this institution," Mr. Clapton said. "I didn't believe that rock-and-roll should be respectable." Ms. James, who has been a blues, rhythm-and-blues, funk and soul singer, said she no longer had to worry about being "neither fish nor fowl." "I know what I am now," she declared. "I'm rock-and-roll."

"I wanted to be in the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame," Dick Clark said, and went on to describe himself as someone with "little or no musical talent" who was "about as white bread as you can get." Mr. Clark said that his constant costume of suit and tie made rock-and-roll look safe to suspicious parents and pressure groups.

Jimmy Merchant of the Teen-Agers recalled that it took 26 takes to record "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," the effervescent 1955 hit single for which he and the other surviving Teen-Ager, Herman Santiago, expect to receive millions of dollars in belated royalties after winning credit in court.

Members of the Hall of Fame must have made their first recordings 25 years before they are voted in, so this year's ceremony harked back to 1967 and the summer of love. "Remember getting high?" said Ray Manzarek, the Doors' keyboardist. "Remember taking the psychedelic substances?" The three surviving members of the Doors performed with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam singing Jim Morrison's parts; Mr. Vedder fixed the grammar of "Light My Fire," changing "If I was to say to you" to "If I were." Sly Stone, famous for not showing up for concerts during the 1970's, arrived on stage after the other members of the Family Stone had made their speeches. He said little more than "thank you" and "see you soon."

Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose three surviving members accepted an award together, did not perform as a reunited band; John Fogerty, the group's songwriter, was backed by Bruce Springsteen and J. Robbie Robertson on guitars along with the evening's house band. Mr. Springsteen, praising Creedence Clearwater Revival's "no-frills American music for the people," added, "On the fashion front, all of Seattle should bow. John was the father of the flannel shirt."

Hollywood production values arrived at this year's ceremony, which drew about 1,400 performers and music-business executives who paid $750 a ticket and up. The previous seven ceremonies, all at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, have been documented on video but presented more as private galas than as television material. "This is not a television show," said Ahmet Ertegun, co-chairman of Atlantic Records and chairman of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Yet as part of its efforts to raise money for the construction of the Hall of Fame museum, library and theater in Cleveland, the foundation may assemble a network television special from its annual ceremonies, and on Tuesday night the setup included television-style lighting and mobile cameras. At past ceremonies, a free-for-all jam session concluded the evening, but on Tuesday each performer played its own short segment.

It has been six years since Cleveland was selected for the Hall of Fame complex, designed by I. M. Pei. "It will allow us to exhibit rock-and-roll not as some kind of static idea but something that lives and exchanges with its audience," said Bob Krasnow, chairman of Elektra Entertainment and executive vice president of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. "It will include video, state-of-the-art sound and every kind of technology you can imagine pushed to its limit."

But construction has repeatedly been delayed while the foundation, created by music-business figures, tried to finance the project, leading to what Jann S. Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone and vice chairman of the foundation, called "a certain skepticism" about whether the hall would be built. On Tuesday, Gov. George M. Voinovich of Ohio and Mayor Michael R. White of Cleveland announced that construction was to begin in April and a formal ground-breaking ceremony would to be held in June. The project is now estimated to cost $92 million.

The foundation has raised $48 million from corporate sponsors and other sources and has contributed $5 million of its own money. Mr. Wenner announced that Sony Music and Warner Music were each contributing $1 million. The Ohio is expected to add $37 million from a bond issue to be repaid by other corporate sponsors, pending final approval from the State Legislature. The officials said they hoped the 150,000-square-foot complex would be completed in two years. Mr. White said he wanted the induction ceremony to be held in Cleveland in 1996.

By Jon Pareles via The New York Times.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License