The 33rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place this Saturday in front of just over 6000 fans and VIPs in the Public Auditorium in Cleveland.
It will be the fifth time it has been held in the city that is home to the Hall of Fame and Museum. From here on out, the ceremony will be held in Cleveland every other year, which means it returns in 2020. Next year’s ceremony will be back in New York for the 27th time. Los Angeles has hosted it twice.
Joining the more than 800 individual artists already enshrined are The Moody Blues, Dire Straits, The Cars, Bon Jovi, and the late Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
To be eligible for induction, artists had to release their first recording 25 years prior, so in this case, no later than 1992. Ballots were sent to an international voting body of more than 1000 artists, historians and members of the music industry.
Fans were also able to vote, and with 6.8 million votes cast, Bon Jovi came out on top with 1.2 million, followed by the Moodies, Dire Straits and The Cars. Nina Simone came in 10th and Sister Rosetta Tharpe was at 16.
The Moody Blues have been eligible since 1989, but this was their first nomination. They will be inducted by Ann Wilson of Heart and will perform four songs — two by Justin Hayward and two by John Lodge. Founding members Mike Pinder and Denny Laine will also attend, but won’t perform with the band. However, there is word that Laine may do his one hit with the band, “Go Now,” on his own. When the Rock Hall announced the inductees in December, he was not included. It was only after Steve Van Zandt made a stink that Laine was recognized. Ray Thomas, who died in January, will be represented by his wife, Lee.
Dire Straits became eligible in 2003, but this was their first nomination. No one will be inducting them, and bad blood between some members has led singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler, his brother, guitarist David Knopfler, and drummer Pick Withers not to attend. Bassist John Illsley and keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher are in Cleveland.
The Cars also became eligible in 2003 and were nominated two times before. They will perform with Weezer bassist Scott Shriner filling in for bassist-singer Ben Orr, who died of cancer in 2000. Cars singer and guitarist Ric Ocasek and Orr met in Cleveland, where Orr is from, before moving to Boston to form the band. They’ll be inducted by Brandon Flowers of The Killers.
Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe were first eligible in 1986 and these were their first nominations. Nina will be inducted by Mary J. Blige, while Lauryn Hill and Andra Day honor her in song. Nina died in 2003 at age 70. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be recognized with the Early Influence award by Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, who will also perform.
Bon Jovi became eligible in 2008, and their only other nomination came in 2011. Howard Stern will induct them, and former members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such will perform with Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, Tico Torres and their longtime road bassist Hugh McDonald, who, while not an official member, is being inducted after someone whined about his being overlooked.
Some of this year’s inductees will be at the Hall of Fame and Museum today (Friday) to officially open the 2018 inductee exhibit.
Saturday night, there will be a simulcast of the ceremony inside the Hall of Fame. Highlights will air on HBO on May 5th. The red carpet arrivals will stream live at RockHall.com, and on the Hall’s Facebook and YouTube channels, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET.
What does it take to pull off the ceremony? There are 200 volunteers, more than 20 trucks, over 350 lights, eight drum sets, seven bass rigs, 15 guitar rigs and 12 keyboards.