Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hall of Fame Finally Gets It Right

Jeff Beck, Metallica, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Elvis Presley's original rhythm section, the late bassist Bill Black and D.J. Fontana, are among the inductees to the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Joining Black and Fontana in the sidemen category will be legendary Muscle Shoals session player Spooner Oldham, who played on such seminal rock and R&B classics as Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves a Woman," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man."

Other inductees include R&B legend Bobby Womack, rappers Run-D.M.C., and country singer Wanda Jackson, who'll be inducted in the Early Influence category. The induction ceremony on April 4th will take place at Public Hall in Cleveland for the first time since 1997, and will be broadcast live on Fuse TV in a new three-year broadcast deal between the Hall's Foundation and Fuse.

Jeff Beck was asked why after a long and successful career, he still pushes the musical boundaries by going for broke with every live show:"Time's getting on, isn't it? People are dying, and (I) look 'round and go, 'What the hell's going on here,' you know? And I enjoy playing, and, you know, there's no real excuse for me not to be doing something. People seem to enjoy what I do."

"Little Anthony" Gourdine, who's best remembered for taking the lead on the Imperials' legendary '50s and '60s hits "Tears On My Pillow," "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop," "Goin' Out Of My Head," and "Hurt So Bad" says that one of the group's crowning moments was appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show: "Oh man -- y'know that's live TV. That doesn't exist anymore. I'm going back in my brain then. I was very nervous, but I think my professionalism, being out as long as I had, I was prepared to do what I had to do. But I was intimidated when I met Mr. Sullivan and there it is. And y'know, you couldn't miss your mark, you couldn't miss nothin' -- it's live! we were (laughs) very blessed to get by on that show without something weird going down."

D.J. Fontana, who drummed on such legendary Elvis hits as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "It's Now Or Never," among hundreds of others, still finds it hard to explain how he got his unique drum sound, which inspired numerous bands -- most importantly the Beatles: "The snare drum, I never changed it. It was probably in the engineering end of it. I never changed anything -- whatever was asked, I did. Talked to Paul (McCartney) about it, I met Paul a few years back, and he said, 'You know, you guys did it all, man. Before we was even thinking about playing anything, we listened to all you guys' records and that's where we learned from.'"

The Rock Hall induction ceremony will be supported by a weeklong series of events. And for the first time in the Hall's 24-year history, tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be made available to the public.

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