This Thursday will see the latest group of musical ‘chosen ones’ inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the class of 2014, which will include the illustrious likes of Nirvana, KISS, Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, as well as a raft of others, including The E Street Band.
This year’s ceremony has already resulted in a swarm of controversy, from a mix-up leading to early Nirvana drummer Chad Channing thinking he was being inducted before being notified of the mistake via text message, to KISS frontman Paul Stanley calling out the Hall’s “unfair policies.”
These are just the latest controversies to rise from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has had its share, some of which have resulted in some rather awkward moments for fans, band members, Rock Hall board members, and induction ceremony viewers alike. We’ve compiled a few favourites.
1. Nepotism, and lots of it.
While many artists feel that induction into the Rock Hall is the sum of the gratitude felt by their fans and the industry for their contributions to music, it must be noted that this may not exactly be the intention of the organisation, at least not according to several defected insiders who’ve cried foul.
As Fox News reported in March 2007, following a last-minute technicality called by Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who’d appointed himself Hall chairman following the death of its founder, UK group The Dave Clarke Five was omitted from the inductees bill in favour of Grandmaster Flash.
And it’s not the first or presumably the last time such shenanigans happened. According to one Fox source, seminal, popular, and influential artists are routinely snubbed by the Rock Hall over everything from personal dislike, bad blood, and lack of popularity, to what label an artist is on.
Watch: The Dave Clark Five – Bits & Pieces on Top Of The Pops 1964
2. “Welcome to bingo night.”
When Blondie co-founders Chris Stein and Debbie Harry reformed the group in 1997, they “forgot” to invite bassist Nigel Harrison or guitarist Frank Infante, who subsequently sued the new Blondie to prevent them from calling themselves Blondie, and the bad blood never quite trickled away.
For his speech, Infante introduced himself as “the guitar player,” before pleading to let himself and Harrison join the new Blondie during their performance, which Harry rejected, saying, “Can’t you see my band is up there?” A dismayed Harrison then welcomed everybody to “bingo night.”
Watch: Blondie Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
3. Sex Pistols make their feelings towards the Rock Hall very clear.
During a 2006 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon made it clear that the punk legends would not be attending their induction ceremony, advising board members smooch his taint. The band instead sent a fax to the Rock Hall in place of themselves…
Watch: Jann Wenner inducts the Sex Pistols into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2006
4. No-shows, and lots of them.
The Sex Pistols were hardly the first act not to be present for their own induction. The reasons for various stars not showing up over the years are numerous, but most have to do with band members not being able to stand the sight of each other, or in the case of Rod Stewart, an earthquake.
Axl Rose, Diana Ross, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Jerry Garcia, David Bowie, Roger Waters, Grace Slick, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the list of no-shows at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies goes on.
Watch: Slash Talks Guns N’ Roses’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
5. Billy Joel leads a “performance” of I Saw Her Standing There.
We’ve had this video on repeat for a while and we can’t quite seem to figure out just what the hell is going on. It appears to be a performance of the Beatles‘ I Saw Her Standing There, but why it’s being lead by Billy Joel after half a rehearsal and an epic amount of champagne is anyone’s guess.
Everything from Bob Dylan‘s weird cape-thing, Paul Shaffer‘s ridiculous keytar, and Bruce Springsteen clearly not knowing the lyrics, to audio problems and Mick Jagger‘s barely coherent warbling just (painfully) screams awkward. And who decided Ringo Starr could the play drums?
Watch: I Saw Her Standing There Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony, 1988
6. The Stooges cover Madonna the only way they know how.
If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. If you want something done with shambolic, punk rock flair, a jagged, nerve-singing Ron Asheton guitar solo, and Iggy Pop‘s unrepentant shirtlessness, you get The Stooges to do it, and that’s just what Madonna did.
Watch: The Stooges – Burning Up / Ray of Light (Madonna Covers)
7. Johnny Ramone reminds everyone that he’s a conservative.
Johnny Ramone was such an avid conservative Republican that when he stole bandmate Joey‘s girl, the latter was prompted to write the band’s now-classic tune The KKK Took My Baby Away. While not a KKK member, Johnny did belong to the NRA and was an ardent fan of Ronald Reagan.
So when he ended his acceptance speech during the Ramones’ Rock Hall induction in 2002, the year the US went to war with Afghanistan, with “God bless President Bush and God bless America,” it couldn’t have gone down well with anti-Bush buddy Eddie Vedder who’d just inducted them.
Watch: The Ramones Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction