Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
January 12, 1998
This is what we (Lisa) wrote up after attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony. We've added a few comments to help clarify things that time has made a bit confusing.
I’ve been sitting here for the last hour trying to write something about "L&M’s Great Adventures at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." I’ve been through four drafts and countless pages of legal paper. How can I find words to describe what was probably one of the most amazing weekends of my life? All I’ve come up with so far is "It was really freaking cool!!" Real articulate and not much of a story.
But it was really freaking cool.
I keep thinking about our visit to the actual Hall last summer. We had to wait in line to get into THE Hall. Outside they showed footage from past induction ceremonies......The Cream reunion.....the remaining Beatles gathered around the podium.....Bono’s amazing speech for Bob Marley. It all moved me, but it was still something on TV. I knew standing there in that line that if and when the Eagles made it to the Hall of Fame, we’d go. The details would work themselves out.
Our initial plan was to go to New York and hang out in the hotel and see as much as we could see. Just being in the same building would be enough. We couldn't afford tickets to the event. This was before they did the ceremony in an arena and sold tickets. Back in 1998, they did this in a hotel ballroom. Tables were reserved for inductees, friends and industry insiders. A few 1000 tickets were made available to the general public, but there was no way we could afford those. Careful planning and few strokes of luck found us staying at the Waldorf for the ceremonies. The planning part was having a friend make room reservations the week the inductees were announced in October. The lucky part was finding out the inductees got free rooms. Would the Eagles take those free rooms? I didn’t even want to think about that as we checked in Saturday afternoon.
The question was soon answered. Joe Walsh walked right in front of us as we wandered around the lobby to get our bearings. Not wanting to lose my cool, I gave Melissa a quick tap on the arm and muttered "Look" under my breath. All I got back was a puzzled "huh?". I think she was thinking about how she could get away to find Kurt Loder. "Didn’t you see Joe??" I said. She looked at me blankly. She hadn’t seen Joe. But they were there. That was all we needed to know.
It was decided that the lobby made an excellent place for Eagle watching. There were lots of comfortable chairs around and they afforded a great view of the elevators. There was much to see, but no Eagles. Carlos Santana and his wife checked in. Jeff Beck walked by carrying his own guitar (his room was next to ours. We saw a lot of Jeff over the weekend). Robbie Robertson headed straight for the Waldorf Towers (the REALLY expensive rooms). Michelle Phillips, looking more beautiful in person than on TV, checked in. But still no Eagles other than Joe.
Right about the time I was ready to fall asleep there was a flurry of activity near the elevators. Before I knew it, Don stepped out....alone. I was in shock. He looked....well....pretty darn good. He was laughing and carrying a shopping bag. Then the elevator dinged again and out stepped Tony Taibi, Don Felder, his wife Susan (wheeling the Felders’ luggage), and JD Souther. JD seemed to be Don’s "date" for the weekend. <G> Timothy and Jean just happened to be in the lobby (they had checked in before we got there) and there was a lot of hugging and exchanging of warm greetings. It seemed like they hadn’t all seen each other in awhile. Timothy pointed our group on the couches out to Don H. He sort of nodded and smiled. We all tried to sink down as far as we could into the furniture. Don just smiled even bigger. Then they got their keys and went up to their rooms. We went up to ours. It had been a long day.
The next day, Sunday, was a day for off site rehearsals. We saw various inductees coming and going all day. Our luck being what it usually is, we missed seeing the Eagles leave, but we did see some of them return. Bernie carried his own guitar through the lobby and back up to his room (which was only a few doors down from ours) Joe and Smokey were also around. Tim and Randy ran into each other at the elevators. They hugged and then Tim said something to the effect that they all should have done this a while ago. It was very touching.
One thing we wondered, though, was where in the heck was Glenn? We were pretty sure he wasn’t at the Waldorf since we hadn’t seen him come in. We found out later he was at another hotel a few blocks away. But at least he was there. We were worried for a while about that.
A few of the Eagles and their personnel went out to dinner later that night. Once again, we missed seeing DH. We were starting to think he was avoiding us. We had heard that rehearsals went great. It was just like old times and everyone was having a great time. We heard later that DH spent a lot of time watching the football playoffs. We think he was rooting for Denver and not our Packers. Bad Don! <G>
We ended up talking to some autograph hounds in the lobby. They had been at the airport on Thursday when Glenn had arrived. He wasn’t very nice to them. Glenn always had a problem with the professionals. Though he was always happy to sign for genuine fans, he would say things like "...get a real job" to the guys just doing it for money. These gusy had also tried to get to Tim the day before at the airport. Apparently Tim ran and got in the waiting car and made his wife get all the luggage. They thought that was quite funny. We tried to explain that chasing them wasn’t the best way to go about getting autographs, but they didn’t understand.
Monday was the big day. Excitement was in the air as the Grand Ballroom was readied for the big event. Hotel staff scurried around setting up tables while VH1 people got things ready for the taping. We wandered over to the Ballroom to check out the scene. A very nice security man let us stay and watch things on one of the monitors they had set up.
After a while, we ran into someone we know who works with the band. Our "angel" told us to be cool and then took us on a circuitous route. We literally ran through the Waldorf kitchen located behind the ballroom. It was like a scene from a movie with all of the chefs buisily cooking and chopping. We came out on the other side of the stage and stood behind a pillar in the same room that the Eagles were doing a sound check. What a thrill to see them work out how they would play the songs with 7 members on stage. We got to see the Eagles run through their two songs. It was hard to believe, but there they were, all seven Eagles on one stage. They were the last of the performers to have their sound check and they were being hurried along because the hotel needed to do their final preparations. Glenn said a few times, "Hey do you want it to sound right or not?" He also made jokes about needing to hurry since he still had to shower. It was a thrill to stand in the same room as all seven Eagles and hear them run through Take it Easy a cappella, just like we’d seen on the HFO video. We would have gone home happy there.
After the sound check we were introduced to Randy. He was very nice and gracious. He has been very upset by all the rumors and stories going around about his problems with the rest of the band (I can't remember exactly, but a Denver radio station was saying something about how there was lots of bad blood between Randy and the rest of the band). He wanted us to know that none of it was true. At this time we also met Randy's now late wife, Lana. She was incredibly warm and friendly. Randy then had to go get ready for the evening. So did we, our angel just told us that he would get us into the ceremony.
By the time we got back down to the Ballroom it had been transformed into the grand, elegant space it was meant to be. We needed to find our way in by finding our contact. This proved diplomatic because the press area was a zoo. Reporters from Rolling Stone and television were all picking up their credentials (Tony DeCurtis had a lackey pick up his press credentials while everyone else got his or her own). Eventually, after having a quick word with Tommy Nixon as he exited the gentleman's room, we found our contact and got our tickets. We were assigned to Table Zero. This meant that we had standing room only access. That was fine with us! We finally entered the ballroom.
The sound of clanging glasses and dishes was replaced by the buzz of conversation. All of the Eagles and their wives (except for Sharon Henley who was 8 months pregnant with the couple's second child) were seated at two tables way off to the side. Glenn and Cindy had even brought Taylor and Deacon. DH and JD looked quite dashing in their matching sunglasses. Joe, ever the fashion original, wore a suit of masonry.
We felt like Cinderella at the ball. It was hard not to gawk and stare, but there was Phil Spector with his entourage, making small talk in the corner. Mackenzie Phillips and her sister were being photographed by some photographer. Another photographer was chasing after Michelle Phillips trying to get the name of the man she was with. and John Fogerty wandered by on his way to the restroom.
After dinner there was a lot of mingling. Glenn took Taylor around and introduced her to any famous person who would stop long enough to shake her hand. He also stopped Sheryl Crow and told her that she really should have won a Grammy last year. You could tell that Sheryl had been a teacher because she squated down, got on Taylor's level and spoke to her for a while. Joe was nice enough to give his untouched dessert of chocolate cake to Tony, who didn’t get a seat for dinner.
An announcement was made for everyone to return to their seats. The ceremony was about to begin. We won’t bore you with all the details. You’ve by now seen the show as VH1 showed it. The highlights for us, besides the Eagles, were Santana’s fantastic performance, John Popper’s very heartfelt induction speech, and Stevie and Lindsey’s amazing "Landslide". Don and JD looked very wistful while Stevie was singing and during the rather drawn out Jelly Roll Martin induction, most of the Eagles went to the bathroom.
It’s too bad VH1 cut out most of Jimmy Buffet’s speech inducting the Eagles. He spoke about how he knew the band on three levels, as a fan, as an opening act and as a friend. "...and here I am, still opening for this goddamed band, " he mused. He talked about the things he had learned from the Eagles including the quick out and having good catering. He then called them all up on stage to accept their award.
Don Henley stepped forward first to speak. He looked a little on the nervous side. He began rambling on about how he wished it was called the hall of accomplishment rather than the hall of fame because you can be famous without having accomplished much. Don, we think, wanted to come off as detached and somehow above it all, but the nervousness and the rambling just made him look very human and touched by the occasion.
The other Eagles then stepped forward. Joe thanked the crew for the wonderful job they always do and Don and Glenn for writing such great songs. Don Felder thanked his wife, Susan, for putting up with him "while we did this." Tim provided probably the most poignant moment when he stepped forward and said that he knew he hadn’t been there in the trenches of the early days with the band and he wanted to thank Randy for all the work he had done. Randy said something about how great it was to all be together again. Bernie thanked whoever was responsible for "indicting" him. Glenn was the last to speak. He gave a rather impassioned speech which seemed aimed at those who like to concentrate on the negative aspects of the Eagles. "We got along fine." Glenn said. "We just disagreed a lot." He then asked everyone to consider what worthwhile relationships don’t have their ups and downs. Don was behind him, shaking his fist, saying, "Yeah, right on." And then it was time for them to take the stage.
They began with Take it Easy and closed the show with Hotel California. Words don’t really describe what it was like to see all seven up there playing together. We were very aware that we were seeing history. They were, of course, flawless and truly deserved the standing ovation they received.
And then it was over. The lights came up and Jann Wenner was at the podium telling everyone to go home. It seemed very anticlimactic.
A week later VH1 showed their version of the evening. We have a very hard time watching the tape. This year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was very special to us, not just because the Eagles were inducted, but also because we were there and for one brief moment got to feel like we were a part of it. It is no longer just something on TV.