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Questlove backstage at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

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The 29th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony took place on April 10, 2014, at Barclays Center in New York City's Brooklyn borough. HBO will premiere an edited version of the show on May 31, 2014. In 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 2014 were Kiss, Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, the E Street Band, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. Here is what this artist had to say backstage during a brief press conference in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame press room.


What do you think about Kiss finally be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after being snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for so many years?

I’ve got to say hats off to Tom Morello [who presented the induction speech for Kiss]. It’s a sea change. I was there in that room when Tom gave that speech [to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters] about Kiss [deserving to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame]. I feel like Tom just won the Nobel Peace Prize, because everyone [the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame industry voters] were so resistant to the idea of change.

And I think it’s rather apropos that that type of change has occurred. The fact that this even occurred is a miracle. Hopefully, I now know next year, that hopefully, I’ll have to have an awe-inspiring speech for my support of N.W.A. [to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame].

You’re presenting the induction speech for Hall & Oates. Can you comment on their musical legacy?

Hall & Oates have the kind of success that actually can be taken for granted. At the end of the day, the people on the left, like critics and high-art people, it’s easier for them to embrace someone who does something kind of abstract or left of center.

But as one of those so-called “left of center” artists, one of the hardest things to do is right one of those simple, frickin’ three-minute pop song. As much as people want to dismiss it as an abomination, to me, writing a single, effective pop song is harder than any Stravinski “The Rite of Spring” or Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” or any 16-minute, 12-movement [piece].

Not to dismiss [that other music]. I grew up on Frank Zappa and all that stuff, but writing a three-minute pop song, there are rarely artists who are that good who can do it. I think [Hall & Oates] have the evidence and the influence of being blue-eyed soul. They are the proprietors of the blue-eyed soul movement. And I think [Hall & Oates’ induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] is long overdue.

What Hall & Oates song had the biggest influence on you?

My obsession with Hall & Oates — I’m going to explain it later; I don’t want to give my speech away — began with the five-part chord modulation progression of “She’s Gone.” That used to scare the sh*t out of me when I was a kid! I was obsessed with what I was scared of. It started with “She’s Gone.”

If you had to teach a class on Hall & Oates, what would your lesson plan be?

If I were to infuse them into my curriculum, it would be on how to enter a genre that you are cosmetically not supposed to fit. Now, of course, we live in an era where everyone’s amalgamated: white rappers and gay singers.

But back in the ‘70s, before the post-modern era, you were supposed to stay in your box. White boys weren’t supposed to sing soul. “You’re rock. You’re pop. You’re country. Let those guys do soul.” The fact that [Hall & Oates] gravitated to that and had success with it speaks volumes.

Besides Hall & Oates, are you a big fan of any other Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees this year?

Everyone that’s honored tonight. I have all of their discographies, including Kiss. I have a “Christine Sixteen” story that’s hilarious, but I won’t share it now. I have over 80,000 records. I’m an all-inclusive record collector.

For more info: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website


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