Forget about the familiar criticisms levied against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over the years; it’s "too corporate," it’s "keeping out deserving artists" and the nominating committee is "completely out of touch." While all of these assessments may be true, save for a few digestible moments, the induction ceremony for the Class of 2010, held March 15 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, was a complete joke.
On one hand you’ve got Genesis, making excuses for Peter Gabriel, vocalist during the prog-rock phase of the group, not attending because he was prepping for an upcoming tour, and those who did show up bemoaning all week to the press how they probably wouldn’t ever tour again as Phil Collins, who led the poppier era, isn’t keen on being out front and can’t drum anymore.
Then there’s ABBA. Ignoring the fact that the Swedish pop phenomena that inexplicably swept the world in the late 70s is about as far from rock and roll as you can get, the members of this group proved to be even more annoying than Genesis.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson were the only two of the foursome on hand to accept the honor, but of course didn’t perform, as the band has stated over and over again that they will never reunite under any circumstances.
“We haven’t performed since 1982,” Lyngstad said upon accepting induction. “We won’t reunite again. It’s too late for that.”
Multiple reasons have been given over the years as to why; failed marriages within the band, not wanting to ruin the youthful and carefree image the group once portrayed and blatant stubbornness are among the most quoted, but at this point, it’s just become a boring topic.
Instead, music fans and viewers at home were treated, insert sarcasm anywhere you want, to Faith Hill performing an ABBA song with Andersson on piano, and Phish doing a couple of Genesis songs.
Seriously; this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you’re going to be inducted, all of your bandmates are alive and well and you refuse perform? It just reeks of self-righteousness to show up and accept the reward for an act you’re unwilling to do.
Thank the rock gods then for Iggy Pop & The Stooges, finally inducted after being nominated seven times and passed over seven times.
Offering a bit of a precursor to the ceremony earlier this month, the 62 year-old Pop decided to stage dive at the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert held at Carnegie Hall, though he had a completely valid reason according to an interview he did with Rolling Stone.
“Because at the center of the crowd, there were just these people looking at me…standing there,” he said. “I looked at them. They looked at me. I just thought, "I'm gonna jump 'em." So I did.”
“They weren't bemused, or confused, or offended, or excited, they were just like, "What are you doing?!" When I landed, it hurt, and I made a mental note that Carnegie Hall would be a good place for my last stage dive.”
Despite that one minor element of retirement, Pop had no problem reminding every single person in attendance at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony exactly what rebelliousness in rock and roll means from the moment he took to the podium to accept the award, brazenly serving up dual middle fingers, turning from side to side to show them off.
“Roll over Woodstock,” he said. “We won.”
Pop went down a list of people to thank, like Stooges’ guitarist Ron Asheton, who died just over a year ago.
“Ron was cool,” said Pop. “The MC5…are cool. My friend Danny who discovered the band is cool, and Nina, my beautiful wife – you’re cool!”
“All the poor people, who actually started rock and roll music…are cool. Thank you Stooge fans, I don’t know how many of you can afford $1200 bucks, but there may be three of you up there, and I bet there’s a couple in the fancy seats; so thanks for being so….cool.”
Then in the background, as guitarist James Williamson began his acceptance portion, Pop discarded his tuxedo jacket and unbuttoned his dress shirt much to the delight of the audience who knew what was coming next.
Drummer Scott Asheton gave a brief speech as Pop bounced back and forth on the balls of his feet; you could literally see him transform into his “live Iggy” persona before jumping on the adjoining stage and launching into “Search and Destroy.”
A shirtless Pop then leapt to the floor, making his way through the unmoved music execs at the white-linen clothed tables in front of the room, throwing punches to the air to the sounds of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
When he returned to the stage, Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong, who inducted the Stooges into the Hall of Fame, had joined the band on guitar.
“Hey – some kid got up on stage!” Pop said. “Do we have any rockin’ lawyers…how ‘bout Allen Grubman – you wanna come up Allen?”
Pop wasn’t kidding. “Come on, who wants to get up here? Come on!” Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder was one of the first to sprint up to the stage in a suit, followed by Green Day’s Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool.
“Let’s get some rich guys up here,” said Pop. “Show me you’re not too rich to be cool!”
Sure enough, a bunch of stuffy suits were soon awkwardly pogoing about the stage, trying desperately to be just half as “cool” as The Stooges, who were dropping one of the all-time punk rock classics.
But just like the Rock Hall itself, it can’t retain the elements of cool, and so often misses out on nominating them in the first place.