Category: Rock Hall

Axl Rose rejects Rock Hall; fans take offense

Guns N Roses' Facebook page
In this morning's open letter to his fans and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guns N' Roses co-founder Axl Rose predicted some backlash from fans longing to see the original incarnation of the band perform onstage. "Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout)," wrote Rose, "I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision."

He was right.

Though unintended, offense has been taken, fans are disappointed, and it's all over the band's Facebook page. The reactions range from dismissive to angry. "Axl's never done anything for the fans, why would he start now!" wondered a commenter named Melanie Finlay.

PHOTOS: Axl Rose's famous feuds

Wrote another: "So sad. I'll never really understand Axl's motivations, but there have been plenty of bands that can't stand each other that are able to perform together for years (ie. Aerosmith). Was really hoping they might pull it off for 1 show that honors all the members of the group."

Rose's defenders have spoken as well, many of whom agree with his position on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Truly amazing! Axl Rose has more class, brains and talent then any put together," wrote Penny Taylor. "It took extreme courage and love to the fans to relate the reasons and strife that he has been dealing with silently trying to be fair to the fans and to others."

And then there are the rational fans who accepted his decision with disappointment but grace. Wrote someone named "Pinkie Pie After Too Much Sugar," with notable diplomacy: "GNR is never getting back together. Axl and Slash will never get along again. And the fact that so-called 'fans' are trying to force two people who hate each other to work together is unfair."


Ronnie Montrose death a suicide, coroner reports

Axl Rose talks playing the Forum, Hall of Fame gig, reunion

Axl Rose pens open letter to Rock Hall, won't attend, declines induction

-- Randall Roberts


Photo: Screenshot of Guns N' Roses' Facebook page.

Axl Rose pens letter to Rock Hall: won't attend, declines induction

Axl Rose

This post has been updated. See below for details.

Early this morning, Pop & Hiss received a letter from Guns N' Roses co-founder Axl Rose, through his publicist, announcing his decision to not attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday in Cleveland. Written under the greeting, "To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern," Rose explained specifically why he was declining his induction into the Cleveland music institution.

The band, born in Los Angeles in 1985, was announced as an inductee in February alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys and Donovan, among others, leading to instant speculation whether the five core members of Guns N' Roses circa "Appetite for Destruction" would appear together for the first time since 1993. Guitarist Slash officially departed the band in 1996, followed soon thereafter by other members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (original drummer Steven Adler had left a few years earlier, as had Izzy Stradlin).

Rose retained the rights to the band's name, and over the next decade devoted his time to creating the album "Chinese Democracy," touring with a revived Guns N' Roses, and defiantly dismissing any suggestion of a reunion with the original members of the band.

PHOTOS: Axl Rose's famous feuds

Since February, Rose has remained mum on his plans, even as guitarist Slash has spoken out in favor of a Rock Hall reunion -- and acknowledging Rose's antipathy. "He hates my guts," Slash told Rolling Stone in early April. "It's over a lot of different stuff; I don't even know. There's just no communication between us. I talk to Duff and Steven, but when it comes to old Guns N' Roses, there really isn't anybody that makes decisions."

In the letter below, Rose specifically criticizes comments by Adler, who speculated to Billboard magazine in 2007 that the band might reunite. Those comments were given by Adler while promoting his own Adler's Appetite tour, which was timed to support his book, "My Appetite for Destruction." "I want to finish what we started," Adler told Billboard then (parentheses and elipses theirs), "and ... with the love and support I got from those guys, I think we can (reunite). I'm gonna leave it up to Axl. That's gonna be Axl's call, and I love Axl and I know he'll make the right call." Below, Rose calls Adler's comments "reunion lies." Continuing attempts to reach Adler have not been successful.

During a December 2011 sit-down interview with Rose after a Guns N' Roses concert in Seattle, the singer had yet to decide his plans, but was uninterested in making a scene at the induction ceremony if he did decide to attend. "I think about it in terms of Marlon Brando getting up at the Academy Awards and talking about Indians ... or when Michael Moore got up at the Academy Awards and said whatever about George Bush. People don’t want that associated with their awards shows, even if you have a big audience. In one way it might be right, but it usually backfires on whoever does it. So I really don’t want to spoil it for everybody else -- and take the beating."

Notably, Rose then laughed and cursed Jann Wenner, the founder, publisher and executive editor of Rolling Stone magazine -- who also co-founded the Hall of Fame in 1983.

Rose's open letter is printed in its entirety below.

To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,

When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N' Roses were to be inducted it'd be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.

Since then we've listened to fans, talked with members of the board of the Hall Of Fame, communicated with and read various public comments and jabs from former members of Guns N' Roses, had discussions with the president of the Hall Of Fame, read various press (some legit, some contrived) and read other artists' comments weighing in publicly on Guns and the Hall with their thoughts.

Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out. Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.

For the record, I would not begrudge anyone from Guns their accomplishments or recognition for such. Neither I or anyone in my camp has made any requests or demands of the Hall Of Fame. It's their show not mine.

That said, I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of "Guns N' Roses".

This decision is personal. This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario all the way around.

In regard to a reunion of any kind of either the Appetite or Illusion lineups, I've publicly made myself more than clear. Nothing's changed.

The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of "for the fans" or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba. 

Izzy came out with us a few times back in '06 and I invited him to join us at our LA Forum show last year. Steven was at our show at the Hard Rock, later in '06 in Las Vegas, where I invited him to our after-party and was rewarded with his subsequent interviews filled with reunion lies. Lesson learned. Duff joined us in 2010 and again in '11 along with his band, Loaded, opening in Seattle and Vancouver. For me, with the exception of Izzy or Duff joining us on stage if they were so inclined somewhere in the future for a song or two, that's enough.

There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.

Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.

So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.

But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.

In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.

I wish the Hall a great show, congratulations to all the other artists being inducted and to our fans we look forward to seeing you on tour!!


Axl Rose

P.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III


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Ronnie Montrose death a suicide, coroner reports

Axl Rose talks playing the Forum, Hall of Fame gig, reunion

-- Randall Roberts @liledit

Updated: The original version of this post wrongly stated when guitarist Izzy Stradlin left Guns N' Roses. He left in 1991, not, as originally written, after Slash had departed in 1996.

Photo: Axl Rose performing with Guns N' Roses. Credit: Katarina Benzova

John Fogerty's new album revisits Creedence classics with guests

John Fogerty will team up with Keith Urban and other stars for a new album due ths fall
For John Fogerty’s next album, due this fall, the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman will revisit his old band’s deep catalog of hits in new collaborations with rock, pop and country duet partners including the Foo Fighters, Miranda Lambert, My Morning Jacket, Bob Seger, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

“Wrote a Song For Everyone” also is slated to include new Fogerty songs, set alongside Creedence touchstones such as “Fortunate Son” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” from the band's most successful period in the late '60s and early '70s.

The new project shows Fogerty fully embracing his artistic legacy; for many years after Creedence disbanded in 1972, he refused to perform the group’s songs because of legal issues with his former record company. He famously refused to play with former band mates Doug Clifford and Stu Cook when Creedence was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. The fourth original band member, guitarist Tom Fogerty, John's older brother, died in 1990.

Fogerty eventually began performing Creedence material again during his live shows, and last September in New York played Creedence’s albums “Green River” and “Cosmo’s Factory” in their entirety over the course of a two-night stand.

The new album, which also will include duets with Alan Jackson, Dawes and other artists still to be confirmed, draws its title from Fogerty’s song that originally appeared on “Green River” in 1969.

Most recently Fogerty made his acting debut portraying himself in an episode of the Fox TV series "The Finder," for which he wrote and sang the theme song "Swamp Water," at the invitation of the show's creator, Hart Hanson, a longtime Fogerty/Creedence fan.


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--Randy Lewis

Photo of Keith Urban, left, performing with John Fogerty during the Recording Academy's 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit concert salute to Neil Young in Los Angeles. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times.

John Mellencamp, Chuck D to welcome 2012 Rock Hall inductees

John Mellencamp, Chuck D, Steve Van Zandt, Bette Midler and Chris Rock are among the presenters who have been tapped to handle inductions for the 2012 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14 in Cleveland.

Mellencamp will welcome in Donovan; Public Enemy's Chuck D will give the speech for the Beastie Boys; E Street Band guitarist Van Zandt will bring in the Small Faces/Faces; Midler will salute singer-songwriter Laura Nyro; and Rock will do the honors for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Additionally, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill will introduce blues man Freddie King, and Carole King will give the remarks for her former Brill Building boss, publisher and TV impresario Don Kirshner.

Engineer-producers Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns will be welcomed into the Hall of Fame by the Band’s Robbie Robertson, and Smokey Robinson will introduce the newly anointed bands who are joining their previously inducted leaders: the Blue Caps (Gene Vincent), the Crickets (Buddy Holly), the Famous Flames (James Brown), the Midnighters (Hank Ballard) and the Miracles (Robinson).

This year’s ceremony will be held at the hall in Cleveland rather than its usual spot at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. A highlights special will premiere May 5 on HBO.


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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Chuck D addresses a crowd during a January 2012 concert. The rapper-producer is set to introduce Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductees the Beastie Boys as part of a ceremony on April 14.  Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times.


Neil Diamond adds two more shows to August run at Greek Theatre

Neil Diamond is extending his engagement at the Greek Theatre in August

Neil Diamond is extending his run of performances at the Greek Theatre to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 10-night stand that yielded his hit “Hot August Night” live album. Along with previously announced shows at the amphitheater on Aug. 11 and 16, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member also will appear Aug. 18 and Aug. 23.  Tickets for the added dates are scheduled to go on sale March 19 at 10 a.m.

Following back-to-back multi-night runs at the Greek in 1971 and 1972, Diamond didn’t return to the facility until 1977, when he recorded another live album “Love at the Greek.” He came back for another week-long run in 1986. The August shows will be his first concerts there since his 1986 engagement.


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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Neil Diamond snaps pictures of the audience during his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Guitarist Billy Strange and the Elvis Presley years

Billy Strange works in the recroding studio with Elvis Presley in the late 1960s

Guitarist-arranger-songwriter Billy Strange, who died Tuesday at 81 in Nashville, was a fixture on the L.A. music scene in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, a good chunk of which the Long Beach native spent among the group of studio musicians who later would be known as the Wrecking Crew.

That was also the time that Elvis Presley was working extensively in Hollywood on his film career, during which he and Strange became good friends, and Strange landed the role of musical arranger on three of The King’s late-'60s films.

That relationship to Presley led Strange and lyricist Mac Davis to team up and write “A Little Less Conversation,” for the movie “Live a Little, Love a Little.”

“I remember playing ‘Conversation’ for Elvis and he seemed to have a great time with it,” Strange told the Washington Post in 2002. “The song’s not a world-beater, but Elvis loved it and he peformed it in his Las Vegas nightclub act for years.”

He was talking about a 33-year-old song in 2002 because it had returned to the charts again in a remix by Amsterdam DJ Junkie XL. That version made it only to No. 50 in the U.S.—still higher than the original recording’s chart peak of No. 69 in 1969 — but went to No. 1 in Britain, which earned it a bonus spot on the hits compilation “Elvis 30 #1 Hits,” released that year (but assembled before “Conversation” had reached the top of the pops overseas).

The song's return to the charts brought it a whole new fan base — thanks also to its appearance in the all-star remake of the film “Ocean’s Eleven.” Strange said, “I’m thrilled to have written a hit song so old it has whiskers, and now it’s vibrant and everybody’s loving it again.” The income bump from the increased songwriting royalties was good news too: “It’s going to help with the house payments.”

One reason there was room for Strange and other studio players at those movie music sessions with Presley was that his original guitarist -- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Scotty Moore -- was so put off by the pedestrian material that he bowed out of participating in many of them, Moore told The Times several years ago.

“Elvis’ records were always lesser than what he was vocally,” Strange said in the same interview. “He had more talent than he was ever able to show, particularly with the motion picture songs, which were not very good material. He was never happy with them, and therefore did not perform them well.”


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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Billy Strange in the recording studio with Elvis Presley in the 1960s. Credit:

Paul McCartney gets his star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Paul McCartney received his star on Hollywood Walk of Fame 2-9-2012

There's no shortage of stars, real and imagined, visible along Hollywood's Walk of Fame, but even by Tinseltown standards, Paul McCartney ramped up the quotient Thursday in getting his own belated star.

The former Beatle drew several hundred fans who packed a cordoned-off section of Vine Street outside Capitol Records for the ceremony.

He brought several Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member pals along for the ride, including Neil Young, who gave McCartney a cheery introduction, Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and pop music power couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Jazz great Herbie Hancock was there as well as musician-producer Don Was and former Electric Light Orchestra leader/Traveling Wilburys member Jeff Lynne. McCartney's wife, Nancy, and son, James, also attended the ceremony.

PANORAMIC PHOTO: Paul McCartney star ceremony

"Let me tell you a little bit about our friend Paul here just as a musician," said Young, wearing a black leather Buffalo Springfield tour jacket. "When I was in high school and the Beatles came out, I loved the Beatles and I tried to learn how to play like them, and no one could figure out what  Paul was doing on the bass. Not only was he playing differently because he plays left-handed, he played notes that no one had put together before -- in a way that made us stand in awe of this great musician."

Neil and Pegi Young at Paul McCartney star ceremony in Hollywood"I'm so proud to be doing this," he added. "As a musician, as a songwriter, Paul's craft and his art are truly at the top of his game, the way Charlie Chaplin was an actor. He has an ability to put melodies and feelings and chords together, but it's the soul that he puts into everything he does that makes me feel so good and so happy to be here."

McCartney then stepped to the microphone and first acknowledged his debt to "three other guys -- so thanks,  John, George and Ringo."

PHOTOS: Paul McCartney star ceremony

Although Starr, the only other surviving Beatle, lives in Southern California, McCartney said, "Ringo's a little under the weather, so he's not here." The comment drew sighs of disappointment from onlookers.

"When I was growing up in Liverpool and listening to Buddy Holly and the other rock 'n' roll greats, I never thought I'd ever come to get a star on the Walk of Fame," said McCartney, 69 -- a sentiment probably shared by members of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who had been after him to accept the award ever since it was approved for him in 1993. "But here we are today," he said.

"Today," not coincidentally, was the 48th anniversary of the Beatles' game-changing U.S. television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The ceremony also came synergistically just two days after the release of McCartney's latest album,  "Kisses on the Bottom," a collection of mostly pre-rock pop songs he loved as a child, supplemented by two originals.

INTERACTIVE: Hollywood Star Walk

Paul McCartney's Hollywood Walk of Fame starAlways the Beatle most attuned to business matters, he closed his succinct speech by telling fans and others "around the world that I send you all hugs and kisses on the bottom."

It's a particularly busy week for McCartney: After the star ceremony, he was slated to do a live performance in one of Capitol's recording studios to be streamed live at 7 tonight on iTunes and Apple TV. On Friday, he's the guest of honor at the Recording Academy's annual MusiCares Person of the Year all-star tribute gala and fundraiser. And Sunday, he's on tap to perform during the Grammy Awards telecast. 

Many fans who showed up in Hollywood brought various bits of memorabilia in hopes of snagging an autograph: One teenage girl had a worn LP copy of his first solo album, 1970's "McCartney." Others leaned across metal police barricades with copies of "A Hard Day's Night," "Beatles for Sale," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," books, photos and a plethora of other items.

Only one succeeded: On his way back into the Capitol building, McCartney spotted Fullerton 18-year-old Paul Madariaga holding up a Hofner bass guitar like the one McCartney first popularized nearly half a century ago when he was just out of his teens. McCartney gave a nod and the instrument was handed to him. The world’s most famous bassist hoisted it aloft, as he often does at the end of his concerts, scribbled his name across the front with a hastily supplied Sharpie and passed it back to Madariaga.

Score one for the kid.


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-- Randy Lewis

Top photo: Paul McCartney showing off the plaque he received at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony Thursday. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.

Center photo: Neil and Pegi Young at Paul McCartney's star ceremony in Hollywood. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.

Bottom photo: Paul McCartney's new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on Vine Street immediately outside Capitol Records. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.

Crickets, Comets, Flames, 3 other bands will enter Rock Hall of Fame

Buddy Holly's Crickets, along with other important early rock and R&B bands, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Let's hear it for the band.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has decided to induct six bands whose high-profile leaders previously made it into the hall individually, in recognition of the critical role those musicians played in the history of pop music.

Buddy Holly’s Crickets, Bill Haley’s Comets, James Brown’s Famous Flames, Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps, Hank Ballard’s Midnighters and Smokey Robinson’s Miracles will join their frontmen as full-fledged members of the Hall of Fame at this year’s induction ceremony, slated for April 14 in Cleveland.

“These inductees are pioneers in the development of the music we call rock and roll,” Joel Peresman, president and chief executive of the Hall of Fame Foundation, said in a statement issued Thursday. “As part of our mission to recognize the most impactful, innovative and influential artists in rock, the committee brought forth these six groups that belong in the Hall of Fame.”

They’ll be feted along with previously announced 2012 inductees: the Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Small Faces/the Faces and Freddie King, along with nonperformer inductees Don Kirshner, Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns.

The Rock Hall previously attempted to address the band member issue starting in 2000 with the addition of a “Sideman” category, which subsequently brought in Elvis Presley’s original guitarist Scotty Moore (but not bassist Bill Black) and Chuck Berry’s old boss Johnnie Johnson as well as stellar session and touring musicians including James Burton, King Curtis, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine and James Jamerson.


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-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Buddy Holly & the Crickets. Credit: Rhino Home Video/SOFA Entertainment.

John Fogerty guests on, writes theme for Fox TV show 'The Finder'

John Fogerty John Fogerty
Rocker John Fogerty is not only providing an original song, “Swamp Water,” for the theme of the new Fox TV series “The Finder,” but the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman is also making a guest appearance on the series’ debut Thursday night.

The series is from “Bones” creator Hart Hanson, who also is a longtime Fogerty fan. In the episode, Fogerty appears as himself, making his acting debut. His guitar is stolen and returned to him by the show’s protagonist (played by Geoff Stults), an Iraq war veteran who uses his uncanny ability to find things in his new career as a detective.

Fogerty also plays a raw version of one of Creedence’s signature hits, “Fortunate Son,” which Hanson describes as “one of my favorite songs of all time,” adding, “My production company would have been called ‘Fortunate Son Productions,’ but somebody beat me to it.

“When he sang and played on ‘The Finder’ set, we all stood in awed silence and grinned at each other,” Hanson said.

The show will air Thursdays at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time. Following Thursday’s episode, the stripped-down version of “Fortunate Son” will be available as a free download for one week on Fogerty’s website.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of John Fogerty durring a 2004 performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.

Flea on Chili Peppers' induction to Rock Hall: 'It's very emotional'

 Red Hot Chili Peppers

There was a time when members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers greeted any mention of the Rock and Roll hall of Fame with derision.

The upstart L.A. punk-funk-rock band wasn’t much of a favorite of the music critics and other tastemakers who make up the hall’s nominating committee, which has yet to welcome such popular but critically dismissed acts as KISS, Deep Purple, Rush and Yes. (Just check the reader comments with any Rock Hall nomination or induction story.)

So, it was with much surprise this week that Chili Peppers bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary greeted the news that his band had been named in the 2012 class of inductees. The Chili Peppers have been invited to attend the induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland next spring alongside fellow inductees Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys, Donovan, Laura Nyro and the Small Faces.

“It’s very emotional, and I’m not sure where the emotions are coming from,” Flea said by cellphone while in Vienna on tour with the band. The group's latest lineup also includes guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who took over for John Frusciante; longtime singer Anthony Kiedis; and drummer Chad Smith.

Part of the mixed emotion stems from the 1988 drug overdose death of the group’s founding lead guitarist and Balzary's boyhood friend, Hillel Slovak.

“Hillel grew up loving rock and roll so much,” he said.  “He hasn’t been here for some time, but I know how much it would mean to him. It’s a powerful thing."

There’s also the departure last year of Frusciante, a mutual split instigated by his desire to try other avenues of expression.

“He left us so many great gifts," said Balzary. "He’s a phenomenal musician and songwriter who gave so much to our band. All the feelings I have for him not being in the band any more... He really took us to a higher level.”

As Balzary told me for the story in today’s Calendar section, “It’s always been easy for me to pooh-pooh these awards — the [Rock] Hall of Fame too. But I inducted Metallica a couple of years ago, and it was really a beautiful thing to see as all these people were being inducted. It made me love it. I love halls of fame anyway — the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“So I feel grateful for the recognition of what we have done," he said, "and for the hope and potential of what we’ll continue to do.”

However, he hasn’t fully abandoned his skepticism about joining a club that still hasn’t drafted some of his favorite artists.

“I can never claim to understand how anything of that works,” he said. “I think of some of the most important artists in the history of music who aren’t in, and it can make me feel like ‘That’s ridiculous.’ Nick Cave — he isn’t in, is he? He’s the greatest songwriter on Earth in the rock world, besides Neil Young, as far as I’m concerned.

“But I’m really grateful for it,” he added. “It makes me reflective about our career -- all the things we’ve been through, the love we’ve shared and how we’ve stuck to this thing. I feel choked up.”

And then there’s the bond Balzary feels with some of his fellow inductees.

“It’s really cool to be going in with the Beastie Boys, who I love, and Guns. When I was a little kid in my very first band with Hillel and Jack [Irons, the Peppers’s original drummer] and we were rehearsing in my bedroom, this kid who lived about a block away came climbing over the fence and sneaking in to my backyard. It was Slash. He lived one block away, but our bands came from very different scenes. We were more from the underground punk world. At the time, it was worlds apart.”

The Rock Hall recognition for the Chili Peppers couldn’t have come at a better time, Balzary said.

“Right now is a really great time for our band," he said. "We’re going through this rebirth and there’s a whole new excitement. We’ve been on tour for a few months, and these shows are feeling a lot like how it felt in the beginning, when we had all these new vistas in front of us.

“To have this come right now, it adds such a feeling of depth,” he said. “We’re always so caught up in the moment, we’re not always thinking of the last 28 years, or whatever it’s been. Everyone in the band might express it differently, but it feels poignant and beautiful and [the induction ceremony] should be a great, fun event. To be where we are right now, in a forward-looking place, it’s a really rich experience.”


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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea performs in Stockholm in October. Credit: Jack Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images.


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