Tomorrow the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts a legendary lineup of musicians including Ringo Starr, Lou Reed, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Green Day, to name only a few. Read more about the new Hall of Famers. . .
The 30th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held tomorrow at Cleveland’s Public Hall. If you’re not in Cleveland, you’ll have a chance to see it on May 30 when HBO will air an edited version of the ceremony, and if you’re a music fan it’s worth watching for the legendary lineup.
The Rock Hall’s 2015 all-star class includes the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Ringo Starr, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers, all in the performer category. This year’s class also recognizes The “5” Royales with the early influences award.
The performer inductees were chosen by more than 700 artists, historians and members of the music industry. Here’s a look at why they are Hall of Fame worthy:
Born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940, Ringo Starr is considered one of the greatest and most creative drummers in rock and roll history. He joined the Beatles in August 1962 and their songs relied on the always-steady backbeat he provided.
After the band broke up in 1972, Starr was the first Beatle to have significant solo hits in the 1970s, including “It Don’t Come Easy,” and “Oh My My.” He also played on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.
His All-Starr Band’s significant albums include Time Takes Time (1992), Ringorama (2003) and Liverpool 8 (2008), a reflective album about his birthplace. Postcards from Paradise, Starr’s 18th studio album, was released on March 31.
Born Lewis Alan Reed on March 2, 1942, in Brooklyn, NY, Lou Reed grew up in Freeport, Long Island, and attended Syracuse University, where he studied poetry and journalism. Reed returned to New York where he would become as inextricably associated with the city as he was with his sing-speak vocal style. He formed the Velvet Underground with John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker and the band recorded four highly influential albums between 1966 and 1970 that delved into life’s darker side.
Reed’s 1970 departure from the Velvet Underground was bitter; but songs from their fourth album, Loaded, (“Sweet Jane” and “Rock & Roll”) would become cornerstones of his live show and reputation. The David Bowie-produced Transformer became his pop breakthrough, and yielded his only Top 20 hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” an ode to the denizens of Andy Warhol‘s 1960s films.
Over his career, Reed explored glam rock, radio-friendly pop and harsh electronic dissonance. By the end of the 1970s, he had settled into addressing serious, adult concerns through his music with 1989’s New York and 1992’s Magic & Loss as notable highlights.
Reed also enjoyed collaborating with a range other artists, perhaps most famously with his wife, performance artist, composer and musician Laurie Anderson though his collaborations with American experimental theater stage director and playwright Robert Wilson and the heavy metal titans of Metallica also made headlines.
Reed died of liver disease on October 27, 2013, leaving behind a daring body of work that proved rock and roll could be art.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Joan Jett was born Joan Larkin on September 22, 1960, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her family moved to Baltimore when she was in grade school and to Southern California when she was 14, which is when she got her first guitar. Inspired by the British glitter-pop of T. Rex, Gary Glitter, Slade, David Bowie, and Suzi Quatro, at 15, Jett became part of producer Kim Fowley’s all-female group, the Runaways. Hits such as “Cherry Bomb” made the band an international sensation.
Striking out on her own in the early 1980s, she became the first woman in rock to own her own record label, Blackheart Records. She remains committed to working with indie bands today; current acts with Blackheart Records include Girl in a Coma and the Dollyrots.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts claim the Number 28 song of all time, “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” a pop-metal remake of a track originally recorded by The Arrows in 1975.
“I Hate Myself for Loving You” reached Number 8 in 1988 and the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Rock Performance By A Group” for the song in 1989.
Members of the Blackhearts lineup over the years have included Acey Slade, Danny Furious, Dougie Needles, Eric Ambel, Gary Ryan, Kasim Sulton, Kenny Laguna, Lee Crystal, Ricky Byrd, Sami Yaffa and Thommy Price.
Jett established a brand of punkish hard rock and roll that has inspires millions of barroom sing-alongs and influenced a generation of female rockers. She continues to be one of the most durable live concert attractions, and has set a standard for women in the industry.
Born in 1972 in Oakland, California, childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong (February 17) and Mike Dirnt (May 4) formed their first band, Sweet Children, in Rodeo, California when they were 14 years old. By 1989, they had added drummer Tre Cool and become Green Day.
The new trio recorded Kerplunk in 1989, which demonstrated what has become their trademark pop-punk melodic quality. Its follow-up, 1994’s Dookie, fueled by the hit singles “Longview,” “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around,” sold more than 10 million copies.
Green Day quickly followed Dookie with Insomniac in the fall of 1995, Nimrod in 1997 and Warning in 2000. They truly cemented their place in music history with the universally acclaimed rock opera, American Idiot, in 2004. It won the Best Rock Album GRAMMY in 2005, with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” winning Record of the Year the following year. The group later transformed the work into a musical and on September 4, 2009, the show premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In April of 2010, American Idiot: The Musical opened on Broadway.
In 2012, Green Day released three new albums: ¡Uno! in September, ¡Dos! in November and ¡Tré! in December with each individual band member gracing one of the album covers on his own. Demolicious, a collection of 18 demo recordings during the making of their ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy, was released in 2014.
Bill Withers was born on July 4, 1938 in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, as the youngest of six children. As a boy, he suffered from asthma and a severe stutter but he fondly remembers attending church with his grandmother and joining in the spontaneous singing. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17, and for the next nine years he travelled the world and learned mechanical skills.
Booker T. Jones produced Withers’s debut album. Just As I Am, featuring the song, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which won the 1972 GRAMMY for best R&B single. More than 250 artists have recorded a cover version and it has earned royalties from television advertisements all over the world.
Withers’s second album included “Lean On Me” and his collaboration with Grover Washington Jr. produced “Just The Two Of Us.” However, Withers remained detached from the hype and nonsense of show business and walked away for good when commercial interests tried to interfere with his art.
Though his recording career only spanned 15 years, his legacy endures. Withers was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, and honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2006. In 2007, “Lean On Me” was enshrined in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Born on October 3, 1954 in Dallas, Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s older brother Jimmie inspired him to began playing guitar at age 7. By age 12, he was playing in garage bands, and at 17, he dropped out of high school to concentrate on playing music.
After playing in a series of bands, Vaughan formed Double Trouble in 1979, featuring Jack Newhouse on bass, Chris Layton on drums and Vaughan as lead singer. In 1981, Tommy Shannon joined on bass and the power trio was set.
The group’s first album, Texas Flood, established Vaughan as a guitar great. In 1985, Reese Wynans added keyboards to the group’s final two albums, Soul to Soul (1985) and In Step (1989), which won the GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Recording, and went gold just over six months after its release.
Vaughan bridged the gap between blues and rock like no other artist had since the late 1960s. His tragic death in a 1990 helicopter crash cut short a brilliant career in blues and American rock and roll. He was only 35 years old.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Hailing from the gritty blues bars of Chicago’s south side, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band brought their authentic sound to a young white audience in the mid-1960s and its influence has been enduring and pervasive. Singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield and guitarist and fellow University of Chicago student Elvin Bishop bonded over a love of the blues, hijacked Howlin’ Wolf’s rhythm section (bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay) to play gigs in the clubs.
In 1964, the band signed with Elektra Records. Guitarist Mike Bloomfield joined the band just before they recorded their debut album (and in time to be on stage with the group when they backed up Bob Dylan during his infamous electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival). Organist and pianist Mark Naftalin also came on board during the sessions for 1965’s The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Billy Davenport replaced an ill Lay in 1965 and lent his jazz and improvisational background to the band’s second album, East-West in 1966.
The band officially disbanded in 1971, but not before defining a whole new edge to rock and roll.
The “5” Royales
Responsible for crafting some of rock and roll’s first true standards, The “5” Royales created a remarkable body of work from 1945 to 1965, with pivotal recordings (Dedicated to You, The Apollo Sessions) and performing techniques that helped define a variety of rock and roll styles.
This rhythm-and-blues vocal group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina combined gospel, jump blues and doo wop, marking an early and influential step in the evolution of soul music. Their soulful sound was built around the dual-lead vocals of siblings Johnny and Eugene Tanner and backed up by Lowman Pauling, Jimmy Moore, Obadiah Carter and Otto Jeffries—yes, that’s six members, hence the quotes around the 5 in the band’s name.
The group was among the very first to incorporate elements of gospel, jazz and blues into the genre of group vocal harmony. A few of their singles became extremely popular in cover versions: James Brown and Aretha Franklin did “Think,” Ray Charles covered “Tell the Truth,” and the Shirelles (and, later, the Mamas & the Papas) released “Dedicated to the One I Love.”