Steve Miller Slams Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame At Induction Ceremony
Friday night’s Rock and Roll started amid controversy. Members of the bands being inducted, like Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) and Peter Cetera (Chicago) blatantly skipped the Brooklyn Barclays Center event while N.W.A, despite a memorable acceptance speech, decided not to perform. Furthermore, the inclusion of Steve Miller Band over genre-changing acts like Sonic Youth and The Pixies were skipped over, many went in questioning whether the Hall of Fame was to commemorate commercial success rather than artistic achievement.
The night had many great movements. David Byrne, the Roots, and Kimbra kicked off the night with a homage to Bowie.
Rob Thomas performed with Chicago after the group gave an expletive-filled acceptance speech. A notable presenting speech was that of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich who said that “Every rock band in the last 40 years, including mine, traces its lineage directly back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple.” Kendrick Lamar called N.W.A “black superheroes” where he comes from and Ice Cube justified hip-hop’s place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame explaining: “Rock and roll is not an instrument, rock and roll is not even a style of music. Rock and Roll is spirit,” and continued, “Rock and roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life.” Rick Nielson even gave Steve Miller a guitar. The night concluded with an all-star jam of Cheap Trick’s version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.”
While Nielson did playfully remark that he was a “little pissed off” that N.W.A did not join them for the final jam (adding that they “would be famous” if they got to play with them) and called out Thomas for being “too healthy to be up [there],” it was the already tentatively included Miller however that brought tension to the night. During the show, Miller was comparatively tame. He called for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to “[expand their] vision” and “to be more inclusive to women… and more transparent to the public… and most importantly, to support music in our schools.”
However backstage, he was less censored, opening up to The New York Times. He expanded his criticism to the organization as a whole, saying that the “whole process is unpleasant” and the organization, which was founded by industry names like Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone, should be changed “from the top to the bottom.”
“They need to respect the artists they’re honoring,” Miller said, “Which they don’t.”
He also criticized the process of the ceremony itself. “When they told me I was inducted they said, ‘You have two tickets, one for your wife and one for yourself. You want another one? That’s $10,000. Sorry, that’s the way it goes. What about my band? What about my wife?”
Here his publicist tried to interrupt him but the clearly incensed Miller persisted. “No, we’re not going to wrap this up, I’m going to wrap you up. You go sit down over there and learn something.”
He continued to reveal that the show was very close to being canceled. Although the hall responded by saying that “rock ‘n’ roll can ignite many opinions.” The statements of other inductees seem to line up with Miller’s complaints. Despite being just the fifth hip-hop group to be honored in the hall’s history, N.W.A did not perform, as is customary, stating, “We really didn’t feel like we were supported enough to do the best show we could put on.” N.W.A left the ceremony early.