Morello, Raitt, Crosby Pay Tribute to Fellow Legends Backstage at First Rock Hall Concert
If there was a single word that summed up the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert Thursday night, it was “legacy.” Backstage, artist after artist spoke of the importance of musical heritage, emphasizing the icons who influenced them as they delivered awe-struck commentary on the show’s spectacular moments.
The parade of praise wouldn’t have been so remarkable if the artists in question were up and comers, but the backstage guests included David Crosby, Smokey Robinson and James Taylor. The accolades started early, when Tom Hanks, whose company is producing the HBO version of the shows, dropped a coy reference to the contraband Rolling Stones film Cocksucker Blues and added, “We grew up listening to these songs in the front room with the Hi-Fi on. This is the music of our generation. This is the soundtrack of our lives.”
He wasn’t kidding. Over the course of the night, the backstage area played out like a rock history book come to life, with every generation of pop music well represented.
“The hallways are happening, I tell ya,” gushed Bonnie Raitt. “Darlene Love and I are sharing a bathroom — it doesn’t get any better than this!”
Watch David Crosby and Graham Nash explain their love of Bonnie Raitt:
CSN’s first guest was their longtime friend Bonnie Raitt, who Crosby called “my favorite singer in the whole world.” She did an acoustic version of “Love Has No Pride” and joined with CSN on an excellent cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” hugging the trio between songs and looking magnanimous. Next up was Jackson Browne on “The Pretender,” and then James Taylor for “Mexico.” The entire California crew joined together at the end of CSN’s set for a sing-along “Teach Your Children.”
“There’s too much to actually remember what’s going on,” agreed Jackson Browne. “I was watching a guy backstage sitting next to Stevie Wonder when I realized, ‘Oh my God, it’s Smokey Robinson.’ ” Browne and Raitt had just shared the stage with Crosby Stills and Nash, as had James Taylor, who said, “I remember I was in a band downtown in the West Village in 1966 when their album came out. When we heard that band we said, ‘Man that’s it. Those guys have got it.’ ”Embed from Getty Images
Stephen Stills, Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash during Crosby, Stills and Nash’s performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert, where David Crosby called Raitt his “favorite singer in the world” at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on October 29, 2009.
Other performers were more reserved. “I truthfully don’t take awards very seriously,” said David Crosby. “My dad won an Oscar — he was a cinematographer — and he used to use it for a doorstop. It gave me a healthy sort of cynicism about all of this. But there is something else involved here: when people whose music I’ve played 1,000 times are up there singing or playing, I can’t help but be moved by being in their company — these are my heroes.”
John Legend was equally humbled by his company. He shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, first covering Marvin Gaye’s timeless “Mercy, Mercy Me,” then joining Wonder in a tribute to Michael Jackson on “The Way You Make Me Feel.” “It was very powerful to see someone who came up the same time as Michael, experienced the same ups and downs as Michael, to see him mourn his passing onstage in front of thousands of people,” said Legend, recalling the first time the two had paid tribute to Jackson at a concert in Milwaukee at the beginning of the summer. “His emotion for Michael was very heartfelt, and I was just happy to be there with him and celebrate Michael’s legacy.” Legend was in the middle of a full night — just a few hours earlier, he’d performed the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium before the second game of the World Series. “I feel like the luckiest kid in the world to be able to do both the Yankee game and to be here with these amazing artists,” he said.
Thursday also saw another noteworthy collaboration — the reunion of Simon and Garfunkel. The two had recently performed a string of international shows together, but have yet to schedule any additional dates stateside. When asked about the prospects for a continuation of the reunion, Garfunkel was cautions. “[The idea is] always sort of floating around — and these days it’s floating around — but we have no such plans yet. Actually, forget I said the word ‘yet.’ ”Embed from Getty Images
Bonnie Raitt, Steven Van Zandt and Jackson Browne backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on October 29, 2009.
And while musical concerns reigned supreme, many artists spoke of a higher political purpose for their work. “Rebellion is lifelong, man,” said Jackson Browne. “Defiance is a lifelong thing.” Tom Morello added, ‘”When music pushes the boundaries and gets under people’s skin is when it’s important. … I’ve been a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music for decades, but the social commentary and the commitment to the working man and to the average person that is both in his work and in his life, is something that I admire very much as an artist, so it’s an honor to be able to play with him.”
For more on the ties between rock and rebellion, watch Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor in our backstage video:
Despite the roster of all-star Hall of Fame talent, the night wasn’t all about looking back. When, at the start of the night, Hanks was asked for his favorite song of the year, he thought for a moment and then giddily started singing: “Da-da-da-da ring on it, da-da-da-da ring on it” — offering perhaps a preview of a collaboration that might occur should Beyoncé be inducted in 2024.
Rolling Stone will be back on the scene tonight for the second epic Rock Hall concert. Get our latest updates direct from Madison Square Garden on Twitter (keep an eye out for #rockhall25):
Source: © Copyright Rolling Stone
Bruce! Sam! Billy! Bonnie! Live From The Ludicrously Star-Studded MSG Rock Hall Extravaganza
By Kory Grow – Oct. 30 2009Embed from Getty Images
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Celebration
Madison Square Garden
Thursday, October 29
The first half of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s two-night benefit concert and 25th-anniversary celebration lasted six hours, ended at 1:30 a.m. and featuring star-studded sets by curators Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, with guests ranging from Billy Joel to Tom Morello to doo-wop legends Little Anthony and the Imperials. All these artists showed a real humility and gratitude for the 60-odd-year-old genre: “Everybody’s got their own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their hearts,” as Springsteen put it. And no matter what you think of the museum itself or the state of rock at the moment (the closest thing to a hard-line rock album in this week’s Billboard Top 10 is the New Moon soundtrack), the evening proved what a great emancipator the music still is.
Before anything even begins, in the middle of Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s soundcheck with Bonnie Raitt, a between-song break leads to one of the musicians playing Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” riff starkly on an acoustic guitar. It only lasts a couple of seconds, but in a way, that sets the tone: Throughout the night, 25 of classic rock and soul’s most celebrated musicians (if Peter Wolf counts) each unabashedly pay tribute to rock’s lineage. (The night’s only failing is not including or honoring the Rock Hall’s hip-hop members, Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC.) Even tonight’s youngest performer–30-year-old John Legend, who performed Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” (both with Stevie Wonder)–seems most caught up in the moment, as he’s had the best day ever, having just performed the National Anthem at the World Series hours before. “It was harder at Yankee Stadium,” he told the press. “The National Anthem is a fundamentally harder song to sing than ‘Mercy Mercy Me.’ And it’s also harder when you’re naked out there by yourself, no music, just you and millions of people around the world watching.”
Artists similarly caught in the moment provide some of the night’s most stirring moments. The night begins with Jerry Lee Lewis playing “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and ends with Bruce Springsteen’s almost two-hour set, which resembles the sort of early rock revue that first inspired him. At one of the high points, the Boss invites out Sam Moore, of soul men Sam and Dave, who, hours before his performance, was flossing a “Burnt Out Star” T-shirt (he since changed into a “Sam Is Who I Am” shirt). But it’s the way Springsteen introduces him that matters: “I learned so much about leading a band from Sam Moore.” They go on to play impassioned versions of “Hold On, I’m Coming” and, of course, “Soul Man.” Though apparently burnt out, Moore still sounds great, too.
Earlier in the evening, Raitt performs a touching rendition of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” (Duane Allman died 38 years ago yesterday) with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, trading guitar licks with Stephen Stills, which meant a lot to him.
“I’ve been wanting to play with Bonnie Raitt since I met her 25 years ago,” he tells the press afterward. “I’ve admired her slide playing for years, and she’s always of the vibe that she didn’t want to compete with the guys, so it was very hard to get her to play with other people, and I had to lobby that she finally let me do a little do with her. It was just the best.”
Cover songs are the plat du jour at the event, since tradition matters most. Stevie Wonder covers “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Paul Simon covers “Here Comes the Sun.” And Springsteen duets with John Fogerty on Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” and closes the night with a version of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” featuring Joel, Fogerty, Moore, Morello, Wolf, and Darlene Love, all making a close-to-touchable wall of sound.
For all the onstage reveries canonizing rock’s past, the press room hosts a debate about who should be inducted into the Rock Hall in years to come. Producer Tom Hanks (who claims to have gotten involved in the event “for the backstage pass”) turned the question to the reporters, eventually citing Laura Nyro and the Go-Go’s. Morello, who performed “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and the Clash’s “London Calling” with Springsteen, has the most current suggestions, citing Dr. Dre, Bright Eyes, and Muse. Meanwhile, soul legend Smokey Robinson, who sang “Tracks of My Tears” with Wonder, expresses remorse that his band, the Miracles, aren’t members. None of the musicians take the Rock Hall lightly–except David Crosby, who compares it to the way his cinematographer father used his Oscar as a doorstop.
What’s clear is that these musicians, no matter how old they are, don’t see (or refuse to see) an end for rock.
“As the Stones and us and everybody [else is] getting older, nobody’s giving it up,” Raitt said backstage. “None of us are being conventional. What does [this] establishment mean? Does that mean we follow like sheep? No. We go our own way. It’s a thriving form of music, and we’re thriving ourselves. We’re not signing it over to the next generation.”
The Rock Hall celebration continues at MSG tonight with U2, Aretha Franklin, Jeff Beck, and Metallica, with guests ranging from Lou Reed to Lenny Kravitz.
Source: © Copyright The Village Voice More sources:
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