I was just an elementary school kid when I first heard “Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone’s first hit single, in spring 1968. The song was on the radio all the time. If it wasn’t on the Top 40/pop stations WIXY or CKLW, you just had to dial up to WJMO or WABQ, the R&B/ soul stations, to hear Cynthia Robinson’s cheeky introductory demand: “Get up and dance to the music! Get on up and dance to the funky music!”
Cynthia Robinson was one half of the horn section of the Family Stone and the de facto MC – that’s MC in the early days of hip-hop sense – the “mic controller” who would punctuate dance tracks with enjoinders to “get up” or “get down” to the music to keep dancers engaged and moving on their feet. Cynthia was doing it 10 years before the Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash dropped their first beat.
That’s just one more way that Cynthia was ahead of her time, a pioneer, showing the rest of us the way. She was a strong female presence in a band – not a vocalist, as was the usual position ...
In among the most anticipated moments of the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Sir Paul McCartney – a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee – took to the stage to induct his friend and Beatle bandmate Ringo Starr into the Hall of Fame.
Speaking of first meeting Starr in the Hamburg days, McCartney said: "And Ringo was like a professional musician. We were just like, slamming around and doing stuff, but he had a beard — that's professional. He had the suit. Very professional. And he would sit at the bar drinking bourbon and seven. We'd never seen anyone like this. This was like, a grown-up musician.
"Eventually [The Beatles] got on The Ed Sullivan Show, and we got really famous. It was just so beautiful. As all the other drummers say, he just is something so special. When he's playing behind you – you see these other bands, they're looking around at the drummer, like, is he going to speed up, is he going to slow down? You don't have to look with Ringo."
After a quick embrace with McCartney, Ringo Starr took the mic, accepting his award and regaling the crowd ...
Although he was being inducted for his incredible legacy of music, 76-year-old Bill Withers also provided among the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony's most endearing and humorous moments. "One other thing crossed my mind," he said accepting his award. "This has got to be the largest AA meeting in the western hemisphere." The thousands in attendance exploded in roars of laughter.
Stevie Wonder inducted Withers, lauding the accomplished musician for emotionally poignant and resonant songwriting, "songs that were for every single culture there is; everyone can relate, somewhere in the world."
The man behind classics such as "Lovely Day," "Use Me" and "Lean On Me," Withers provided a long list of thanks to the men and women who supported him throughout his career – including the radio DJs that played the flip side to his early single: "Ain't No Sunshine."
"Stevie Wonder inducting me in the Hall of Fame is like a lion opening the door for a kitty cat," joked Withers. "Stevie Wonder knows my name and the brother just put me ...
"It’s wonderful to be here in Cleveland, and Lou would've loved this," said Laurie Anderson, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed's widow. "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the place where the names of great musicians become completely magic words – Buddy Holly, Little Richard, the Coasters. And now, Lou Reed is one of those magic words."
Anderson's speech followed an extraordinarily moving induction by Lou Reed's friend and fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Patti Smith. "His consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice," she said. "Lou was a poet, able to fold his poetry within his music in the most poignant and plainspoken manner.
"True poets must often stand alone. As a poet, he must be counted as a solitary artist. And so, Lou, thank you for brutally and benevolently injecting your poetry into music."
The speeches were complemented by two powerful tribute performances: Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did a brilliant version of "Vicious," the opening track on Reed's classic ...
"Everything you guys do is punk rock in the sense that you’ve never gone the easy route, the obvious route, the safe route," said Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz inducting Green Day. "You’ve never repeated yourselves, you’ve never done anything to please the suits… Like Queen, the Who or the Clash, the best bands go on to defy and define the labels they get saddled with…the best bands are legend on record and onstage.
"This is a band that’s so in tune with their audience that they let a random kid onstage and play in the band, in arenas" added Wentz. "They literally fulfill that improbable daydream every kid has playing onstage with their favorite band."
A confessed diehard fan, Fall Out Boy singer and guitarist Patrick Stump said: "Billie Joe’s signature snarl and strong, sarcastic lyrics, that eternally youthful voice, those bright, open chord structures. The way a silhouette of him playing guitar would be as recognizable a posture to any punk rock kid as Michael Jordan's mid-air dunk is to sports fans."
After accepting their Inductee honors, the guys from Green Day – Tré Cool, Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe Armstrong ...
"At first, having this honor to induct Joan Jett into the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was overwhelming," said Miley Cyrus. "There was so much that I could say and she just had a life in music that is rare. She's had a career that's decades long. She's been the first to do many things and not just as a woman, but just as a badass babe on the planet."
Not long into the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, Dougie Needles, Thommy Price and Gary Ryan – were joined on stage by 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters fame.
"Rock and roll, I think, is my entire life," said Jett from the Induction stage. "I come from a place where rock and roll means something more than music, more than fashion, more than a good pose. It's a subculture of integrity, rebellion, alienation and the glue that set several generations free of societal and self-suppression.''
Over the course of two decades – from 1945 to 1965 – 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee the "5" Royales created a remarkable body of work that laid the foundation for a host of music that followed in its wake. With pivotal recordings and performing techniques that helped define a variety of styles under the rock and roll umbrella, the group is responsible for some of rock's first true standards. Here are my picks for essential listening.
“Bedside of a Neighbor” (1952)
The very first record by the “5” Royales was a variation of the Thomas Dorsey tune “(Standing By the) Bedside of a Neighbor.” It was recorded in August of 1951 and released on Apollo Records in January of 1952 under the name The Royal Sons Quintet. They put in a great vocal performance with the lead sung by John Tanner, but don’t miss the gospel piano played by the group’s friend Royal Abbit.
“Baby Don’t Do It” (1952)
While their contract with Apollo was to record gospel music, the group quickly began recording secular music as well; at first under the name the Royals, and then by the time of this hit song ...
The studio and live LPs released during the last seven years of 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Stevie Ray Vaughan's life ensured his place in Stratocaster immortality and influenced the next generation of blues guitarists. With Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon on bass, Chris Layton on drums and Reese Wynans on keyboards, the Texas-born blues-rock powerhouse forged a sound that influenced and inspired countless players around the globe.
“Love Struck Baby”
The first song on the debut album from Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Texas Flood, released on June 13, 1983 – it was also the first single from the album. But don’t be fooled if it sounds too good to be a new band; Stevie Ray formed the band in 1978, and the final lineup had come together in 1980 consisting of SRV, Tommy Shannon (bass), and Chris Layton (drums).
“Pride and Joy”
This song is a great example of a Texas Shuffle (in which the guitar plays a triplet pattern over the quadruple meter of the band). Listen to how in the opening Stevie Ray plays all the off beats with an upstroke on the guitar to emphasize them. It makes for a great ...