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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Jon Bream

Highlights you may or may not see in HBO broadcast of this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction

LOS ANGELES — Highlights of Saturday's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be broadcast on HBO Nov. 19. Good luck trimming the five-and-a-half-hour marathon to three hours or so.

You probably won't hear inductee Eminem reading, alphabetically, from several sheets of paper the names of dozens of rappers who influenced him.

Or the entire speech from Duran Duran's Andy Taylor read by singer Simon Le Bon because Taylor is suffering from prostate cancer and couldn't attend the band's induction.

Or lawyer-to-the-superstars Allen Grubman's George Jessel-esque induction acceptance speech about eating spare ribs at the lunch where the concept for the Rock Hall was hatched in 1983.

And you won't see the false start by Duran Duran, the night's first performing act, when Le Bon stopped "Girls on Film" after a verse and chorus and announced to the 7,000 people at the Microsoft Theater, "It's just to prove to you that we weren't lip-synching!," The band started over.

And you probably won't hear John Mellencamp's show-stopping introduction of Grubman that turned into a rant about antisemitism, clearly aimed at Kanye West and Kyrie Irving. Here is what the Indiana iconoclast said, in part, "I'm an artist and a gentile whose life has been enriched greatly by my friendship and association with countless Jewish people ... We're all human things. I don't give a [bleep] if you're Jewish, Black, white, tutti frutti. … I'm standing here tonight loudly and proudly and in solidarity with Allen, his family, all of my Jewish friends and the entire Jewish people of the world. [Bleep] Antisemitism and [bleep] anybody who says anything in that manner."

(Later backstage, Grubman said the Hall of Fame asked for Mellencamp's notes to include in its archives.)

Mellencamp wasn't the only one to sound a note for diversity. Inductee Lionel Richie proclaimed: "Rock 'n' roll is not a color," he said. "It is a feeling. It's a vibe. And if we let that vibe come through, this room will grow."

Judas Priest's Rob Halford, another inductee, explained: "I'm the gay guy in the band. We call ourselves the heavy metal community, which is all-inclusive, no matter what your sexual identity is, what you look like, or what you believe in or don't believe in. Everybody's welcome."

Dr. Dre said race didn't define hip-hop artists or fans. "Eminem brought hip-hop to Middle America and offered kids who looked like him a way to connect to it. Hip-hop wasn't just for Black kids in desperate inner-city circumstances anymore."

If the HBO editors get it right, we will hear Dolly Parton's speech ("I'm a rock star now") about why she accepted her induction into the Rock Hall after initially asking to be taken off the ballot.

And Eminem explaining two reasons why he shouldn't be at the Rock Hall induction — he's a rapper and this is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and "I almost died of an overdose in 2007."

And Janet Jackson's playful zinger about Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis: "Needless to say, I'm not the only artist Jimmy and Terry have worked with — I'm just their favorite."

Backstage, Jam said Jackson's speech "blew me away." He didn't know about the content in advance except for a few facts that she checked with him. By the by, unlike some inductees and presenters, Jam and Lewis did not use a Teleprompter. They just winged their speeches.

Some of the inductees came backstage to the press room, typically minutes after their induction. They posed for photos for a handful of photographers and then entertained a grand total of two questions from about two-dozen print reporters.

The interviews were as limited as the press room itself. Needing a quieter workspace at one point during the ceremonies, I headed to the men's room and plopped on the floor in a corner, typing on my laptop. As LL Cool J was about to exit the restroom, he asked what I was doing. "I'm transcribing a tape of comments from the podium for a newspaper story." "I love your commitment," he said from behind his shades. "I respect you." He extended his fist and we dapped.

P.S. After the Rock Hall ceremonies ended about 12:50 a.m., Jam, Lewis and their families headed to Edition, a trendy West Hollywood hotel, for a small gathering of 40 people. Janet Jackson was there, of course. D-Nice, the DJ, spun all Jam and Lewis songs just as he had done the night before at a party there organized by Maxwell, the R&B singer.


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