Starr qual­ity at the Rock hall

In in­duc­tion speech, he says Alan Freed’s ra­dio show in­spired him as a boy.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Randy Lewis randy.lewis@la­ Twit­ter: @RandyLewis2

A for­mer Bea­tle is among those in­ducted in Cleve­land.

CLEVE­LAND — A mo­ment af­ter Ringo Starr took the stage early Sun­day morn­ing on be­ing in­ducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it looked like he was re­sort­ing to that hoari­est of rock per­for­mance cliches: name-drop­ping the city he’s in to elicit a cheap ova­tion.

“I was do­ing the press ear­lier, and some­one asked ‘Why did you wait so long?’ ” Starr, 74, told the crowd of about 10,000 packed into the 93-year-old Public Au­di­to­rium to see him wel­comed into the Rock Hall along with Lou Reed, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Black­hearts, Ste­vie Ray Vaughan & Dou­ble Trou­ble, Bill Withers, the Paul But­ter­field Blues Band and the “5” Royales.

“It had noth­ing to do with me,” he said with a puck­ish smile. “You have to be in­vited. Fi­nally I’m in­vited, and I love it. I also love it that I got lucky, and it’s ac­tu­ally in Cleve­land.”

Most rock­ers would have left it at that and soaked in the hearty cheer that erupted. But Starr quickly added, “And I’ll tell you why.”

He then re­counted how as a boy grow­ing up in Liver­pool, Eng­land — sep­a­rated from the United States by an ocean — he con­nected with the lib­er­at­ing mu­sic this coun­try gave the world in the 1950s be­cause a ra­dio sta­tion based in Lux­em­bourg car­ried early rock disc jockey Alan Freed’s ra­dio show that cham­pi­oned Lit­tle Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Pres­ley, Chuck Berry and rock’s other pi­o­neers.

“Ev­ery Sun­day at 4 in the af­ter­noon, we heard rock ’n’ roll mu­sic,” Starr said. “Alan Freed in­tro­duced us to so many great records.” Freed’s show, as it hap­pened, orig­i­nated from Cleve­land.

It was one among many mov­ing and deeply per­sonal mo­ments shared dur­ing the Rock Hall’s 2015 in­duc­tion cer­e­mony — Starr’s made more so by the speech given by his long-ago band mate, Paul McCart­ney.

Even at 72, McCart­ney played the cute Bea­tle as he leaned ca­su­ally on the lectern and re­counted the first time Starr sat in with the nascent Bea­tles.

“I re­mem­ber the mo­ment, stand­ing there, look­ing at John, then look­ing at Ge­orge, and we were like … what is this?” McCart­ney said. “That was the mo­ment. That was the be­gin­ning of the Bea­tles.”

The in­duc­tion speech for proto-punk rocker and poet Lou Reed was de­liv­ered by his friend and fel­low poet Patti Smith, who choked back tears sev­eral times talk­ing about her friend­ship with the man who took a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions of lis­ten­ers for “Walk on the Wild Side” with his evoca­tive por­traits of New York’s un­der­belly.

Ac­cept­ing the award for Reed, who died in 2013, was his part­ner of 21 years, per­for­mance artist Lau­rie An­der­son.

“Lou was hi­lar­i­ous, never cyn­i­cal,” she said. “He was my best friend, the per­son I ad­mire most in the world. There were times I was frus­trated, there were times I was mad. But I was never, ever bored.”

In­ducted by Ste­vie Won­der, Withers, 76, re­sponded by say­ing, “I’m hon­ored to be this year’s old­est living solo in­ductee. Don’t hate me be­cause I’m pre­co­cious, OK?”

Jett, who was given a bawdy in­tro­duc­tion by con­tem­po­rary pop mu­sic bad girl Mi­ley Cyrus, opened the evening with a blaz­ing set of her hard-rock and punk­rooted mu­sic.

Jett wiped away tears when she ac­cepted her Hall of Fame stat­uette, telling on­look­ers, “I was re­ally go­ing to try not to cry. It’s a lit­tle over­whelm­ing.”

Bay Area punk band Green Day also got caught up in the evening’s out­pour­ing of emo­tion. Lead singer, gui­tarist and chief song­writer Bil­lie Joe Arm­strong was a teary-eyed mess dur­ing his good-na­tured ac­cep­tance speech, in which he thanked his par­ents and sis­ter, aunts, un­cles and cousins.

Be­cause the Rock Hall’s el­i­gi­bil­ity rules re­quire that a mu­si­cian or band can­not be in­ducted un­til 25 years af­ter the re­lease of its first record­ing, it’s in­evitable that many hon­orees are no longer living.

Such was the case with the early R&B vo­cal group the “5” Royales, which dis­banded in 1965 and whose orig­i­nal core mem­bers have died.

Texas blues gui­tarist Vaughan died the same year Green Day’s record­ing ca­reer ef­fec­tively be­gan, in 1990.

He was given a hero’s wel­come not only by vo­cif­er­ous fans — he topped the fan­vot­ing com­po­nent this year — but by fel­low rock-blues gui­tarist John Mayer, who called Vaughan “the ul­ti­mate gui­tar hero.”

South­ern rocker Zac Brown and L.A. rock gui­tarist-ac­tivist Tom Morello teamed for a scorch­ing run­through of the Paul But­ter­field Blues Band’s “Born in Chicago” in trib­ute to the blues band­leader.

“We kind of set an ex­am­ple, which was badly needed in those days,” said But­ter­field band gui­tarist Elvin Bishop, “that peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races could work to­gether.”

An HBO spe­cial with high­lights from the nearly six-hour cer­e­mony is sched­uled to pre­miere May 30.

Mike Cop­pola Getty Images


left, teamed with old Bea­tles band mate Paul McCart­ney.

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