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Final preparations for Saturday's Rock Hall induction party a delicate balancing act

by John Campanelli/Plain Dealer Reporter

Saturday April 04, 2009, 12:30 PM

It's going to be loud. It's going to be hot. It's going to be crazy. We're talking, of course, about Cleveland. Tonight. Inside Public Auditorium. Inside the east hallway of Public Auditorium.


Cleveland's Public Auditorium was built in 1922 and has hosted almost every kind of event imaginable: beauty pageants, operas, wrestling matches and, of course, rock concerts. Yet the place has always lacked something kind of important.

"There's not really a kitchen," said Charles Klass, executive vice president for Mayfield Heights-based Executive Caterers, which is facing the challenge of serving cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a three-course meal, wine, dessert, coffee and more to about 1,250 rock stars and VIPs at tonight's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies -- all without a permanent kitchen.

To do it, Executive Caterers is turning the east corridor of the historic auditorium into what Klass calls a "field kitchen," a kind of culinary M*A*S*H unit, with everything from convection ovens to hand-cleaning stations. There will be areas set aside for the 100-plus workers to serve coffee, plate food and bus the dishes. Assisting will be a mobile kitchen truck -- complete with grills, ovens and running water -- parked on East Sixth Street.

"The logistics of this, that's really what our focus is on, to tell you the truth," said Klass this week. "Right now, we're sitting, thinking, 'How the hell are we going to do this?'

"But I think we've got it figured out."

Here's a timeline for the evening:

5 p.m.

VIPs will take the red carpet into Public Auditorium's Lakeside Avenue entrance, walking through the building's grand marble lobby, and then head downstairs to the west registration lobby for a cocktail reception.

Since one of the color themes of the evening is blue, guests will be served a drink called Rhapsody in Blue, a vodka-based cocktail developed specifically for the night. Of course, if they want to drink something else, fully stocked open bars -- not the cash bars that caused a stir when the ceremonies were last here in 1997 -- will offer wines, premium liquor and beers, including a variety from Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Co.

During the cocktail hour, four hors d'oeuvres, two hot, two cold, will be served butler style. Klass would not reveal specifics, saying the Rock Hall "doesn't want to take away the wow factor for the guests of the evening."

The decor for the evening will be a blend of elegance and rock 'n' roll edginess, said Joe Mineo, head designer for the evening and owner of Something New Events in Canfield.

Mineo has taken George Shuba's photographs from legendary Public Auditorium concerts -- the Beatles, Stones, Jimi Hendrix and others -- and blown them up onto white velvet and suspended them throughout the reception area.

"I really kept in mind the fact that we are in Public Hall and the iconic rock 'n' roll performers that have performed there," said Mineo.

A series of 8-foot-tall hollow columns, illuminated from within and featuring orchids, water and glass, surrounded by hand-shaped aluminum screening, will guide the guests to the auditorium floor for dinner.

6:15 p.m.

When the guests go upstairs and arrive on the floor of the Public Auditorium, they are going to see a completely renovated hall. The scuffed-up floor has been sanded and refinished. The 40-year-old seats -- about 5,800 of them -- have been replaced. Restrooms have been updated, a leak in the roof fixed. And a fresh coat of paint covers everything from the walls and ceilings to the ornate gold trim on the facing of balconies. Even the brass doors to the main lobby have been shined.

The cost of the face-lift -- more than $550,000 -- came from the city's capital budget, said Cleveland properties director Michael Cox.

"It looks 200 percent better. It's very, very bright. It's uplifting," said Cox. "The building represents Cleveland. It's a working-class building, it's older, but it's beautiful. It's us."

About 120 tables -- each with 10 chairs and each selling for $15,000 to $50,000 -- will be spread out on the floor (the thousands of seats above will be filled by ticket holders, who will enter later). The tables will be covered with aqua blue crushed-silk tablecloths.

Because of television, Mineo wasn't allowed to use candles in the centerpieces. Instead they will keep with the elegant-yet-edgy theme and use flowers -- white lilies and green orchids -- along with scrap metal and wire. Crushed glass will spill out from it all.

While the main course remains a secret, diners will start with an appetizer of barbecued shrimp atop a grilled corn cake with roasted poblano sauce, shoestring potatoes and an apricot-curry drizzle. For dessert, his pastry chef has created the Blue Forest, a flourless chocolate cake with brandied cherries, kirsch whipped cream and a chocolate wrap. It's then sprayed with a blue cocoa butter.

Wines for the dinner will be a Mondavi cabernet and a chardonnay from the Cupcake winery.

Klass said the Rock Hall is keeping mindful of the economic climate and trying to stay first class without going over the top.

"It's going to be tastefully done and very elegantly done," he said. "We're looking to wow the people with the presentation and the design of the food and desserts rather than with the extravagance of imported caviar or foie gras from France or stuff like that."

Klass knows it's all going to be a challenge.

"Obviously we recognize that all eyes are going to be on Cleveland, and people are used to New York," he said. "So there's a lot of pressure on us. We're aware of that and we're very excited to rise to the occasion.

"We're hoping to knock their socks off."

7 p.m.

The people holding tickets and sitting in the upper bowl will begin arriving at 7. Their food and drink options will be limited to simple concessions, according to Klass: beer, soda, bottled water, snacks and desserts.

8 p.m.

Show begins.

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Cleveland Rocks As Hall Of Fame Festivities Begin

April 04, 2009 11:02 AM ET

Gary Graff, Cleveland

In the throes of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame mania, Cleveland was loaded with revelry on the night before Saturday's induction ceremony.

About 1,200 people turned out Friday night for an official VIP induction pre-party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, including inductees Bobby Womack -- who was mobbed by fans as he tried to enter with members of his family and barely made it past the lobby -- Spooner Oldham and DJ Fontana, the Connie Mizell-Perry, the mother of the late Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, and former Beach Boy Al Jardine, who was squired around on a personal tour by Hall of Fame curator Howard Kramer. The attendees feasted at several food stations offering everything from sushi to beef filets and gourmet deserts and were able to view a new film about this year's inductees as well as a special display featuring musical instruments, clothing and other artifacts.

Dave Mason, inducted into the Hall in 2004 with Traffic, played an acoustic set that included the band's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and his rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," while home town heroes the Raspberries paid tribute to the Who by covering "Substitute," then were joined by "Late Night with David Letterman" band bassist Will Lee for an encore set of Beatles songs ("Ticket to Ride," "Baby's in Black" and "No Reply") and another Who hit, "Can't Explain." Reggie Calloway of Midnight Star, meanwhile, made sure there was indeed "No Parking on the Dance Floor."

Across town, Metallica and the dozens of specially invited guests the band is hosting this weekend busted capacity in a private room at the House of Blues with guests including Flea, Jimmy Page and Joe Perry, while fellow inductees Little Anthony & the Imperials rocked through a long set at the Agora -- despite a shoudler injury Jerome "Little Anthony" Gourdine suffered while working out Friday morning that necessitated a trip to the hospital.

Over at the Ritz-Carlton, where many of the inductors and presenters are staying, photographer Anton Corbin unwittingly held court in the lobby bar, visiting with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who will induct Jeff Beck and was returning from a visit to the museum, and with Metallica's James Hetfield and his family as they came down for an early dinner. Sound checks and rehearsals took place at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, where the ceremony will be held; Womack worked through a medley that will include "Across 110th Street" and "It's All Over Now," while Metallica had to wait into the evening until crew members could arrive from France on a delayed flight.

Saturday afternoon, a rehearsal took place of the night's grand finale: "Train Kept A Rollin'" with Flea and Page and a performance of "Jailhouse Rock" with all of the inductees including Wanda Jackson, Ron Wood, Jeff Beck, Womack, Lil Anthony and the Imperials, Rosanne Cash and Paul Shaffer.

Saturday's ceremony marks the first time general public tickets, priced at $35 and $75, were sold for the ceremony; all 5,000 were scooped up by fans in Cleveland and from out of town. On the main floor, where tables ran $15,000-$50,000, VIPs will dine on barbecued shrimp-topped grilled corn cakes with roasted poblano sauce, shoestring potatoes and a dessert called Blue Forest -- flourless chocolate cake topped with kirsch whipped cream, brandied cherries and more chocolate sprayed with blue cocoa butter. A special vodka-based cocktail called Rhapsody in Blue will be served at the bar.

Edited by SteveAJones
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Rock Hall of Fame Rewind 1992: Back to the '60s with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Yardbirds

by John Soeder/Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

Thursday March 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony are coming home to Cleveland for the first time in a decade. We're counting down the days to April 4 with a daily feature looking back at the highlights of previous inductions.

What: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Seventh Annual Induction Ceremony

When: Jan. 21, 1992.

Where: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York.

Who got in: Bobby Bland, Booker T. and the MG's, Johnny Cash, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave, the Yardbirds, Elmore James, Professor Longhair, Leo Fender, Bill Graham, Doc Pomus.

Highlights: "We sort of laid the way for barbarism," says Jeff Beck of the Yardbirds. Keith Richards does the honors for late electric-guitar pioneer Fender. "He gave us the weapons," Richards says. During the jam, Cash trades licks with Richards and Little Richard. Rock Hall co-founders Ahmet Ertegun and Jann Wenner announce plans to hold the 1993 ceremony in Los Angeles. What about Cleveland, where insufficient funds have delayed construction of the hall? "There will be a ceremony in Cleveland," Wenner says. "Maybe," Ertegun says. "Maybe, yes," Wenner says.


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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum hosts private VIP party with inductees, guests

Saturday, April 04, 2009

John Soeder

Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

What do you do on the eve of the year's ultimate rock 'n' roll party?

Throw another bash, of course!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum hosted a private VIP party Friday night as part of its weeklong Induction 2009 celebration. The Rock Hall was packed with 1,200 revelers, including museum benefactors and several incoming Hall of Famers who will be enshrined during tonight's festivities at Public Auditorium.

Taking it all in from a seat in the lobby was Naomi Womack, mother of honoree Bobby Womack, a Cleveland native. He got his start here in the Womack Brothers, a gospel quintet.

"They started singing when . . . they were just little bitty children," Naomi Womack recalled. "I'm very proud of them."

Bobby Womack reportedly ducked into the party quickly.

Also on hand was Connie Mizell-Perry, mother of Run-DMC DJ Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell. He was shot to death in a recording studio in 2002.

"I never dreamed that my son would enter the Hall of Fame," Mizell-Perry said. "It's a blessing to know that he did something great with the music."

The party's musical entertainment included a power-pop set by Cleveland's Raspberries, who got down to business with a rousing "Tonight."

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin took a tour of the museum earlier in the day. He will present Jeff Beck at tonight's ceremony.

"This reminds people, not just in Cleveland but around the world, that Cleveland is a wonderful place," said U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. "No matter how difficult things become . . . we still have this Cleveland spirit. It's exemplified by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

Also in the crowd were soon-to-be Hall of Famers Spooner Oldham, Sammy Strain of Little Anthony and the Imperials (Strain is already in the Rock Hall as a member of the O'Jays) and Elvis Presley's drummer, DJ Fontana.

Keyboard-playing songwriter Oldham has backed everyone from Bob Dylan to Neil Young.

"I think I get some of it from my mom," Oldham said. "She's a hairdresser. I like to make people look good."

So how does it feel to get into the Rock Hall?

"I don't know how it feels," Oldham said. "Tomorrow I'll know better. I don't like to count my chickens before they hatch."

A few blocks away at the House of Blues, Metallica held a private party. The heavy-metal group has invited hundreds of past and present associates of the band to the induction gala.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions 2009: Whether he's playing guitars or building cars, Jeff Beck follows his heart

by John Soeder / Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

Thursday April 02, 2009, 12:30 AM


Jeff Beck

What: On the heels of his Rock Hall induction, the guitar great returns for a headlining gig.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 15.

Opener: Davy Knowles.

Where: House of Blues, East Fourth Street and Euclid Avenue, Cleveland.

Tickets: $42.50-$89.50 at the box office and Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone,


The best thing Jeff Beck ever bought wasn't a guitar. Or an amp. Or even some nifty effects pedal.

It was an oxygen-acetylene torch.

"When you can cut through quarter-inch [metal] plates like a knife through butter, you feel as if you rule the world," said Beck, a hardcore grease monkey with a passion for hot rods.

His other passion -- rock 'n' roll -- has earned this virtuoso guitarist two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. He got in as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992. He'll be enshrined for his solo achievements Saturday night at Cleveland's Public Auditorium.

Not too shabby, although Beck's old pal Eric Clapton has been inducted three times -- with the Yardbirds, with Cream and for his solo work.

"He would have to upstage me, wouldn't he?" Beck, 64, said by phone from England.

As far as rock legends go, he's remarkably down-to-earth.

"It's Jeff," he said by way of a greeting. "Were you expecting me?"

Indeed. So how does it feel to make the Rock Hall's honor roll again?

"I just felt over the moon," he said. "I thought someone was playing a cruel joke at one point, 'cause I don't win stuff like this."

When Clapton left the Yardbirds in 1965, he was replaced by Beck. He in turn was replaced the following year by Jimmy Page, before the latter guitarist took off with Led Zeppelin.

Page will present Beck at the Rock Hall ceremony.

How friendly are the two of them these days?

"You sound a little cagey about it," Beck said.

No -- just journalistically curious.

They get along fine, Beck said.

"There was obviously some envy on my part, from the success of Zeppelin," he said. "But when you see what the package was, then you can understand why they were so successful.

"Other than just a bit of envy, we've been the same two kids in a candy store."

Beck was born and raised in Surrey, England. He first picked up a guitar when he was 11.

"There was one lying on my friend's couch," he recalled. "It was a nice toy to pick up. I felt I had a sort of affinity with it.

"It only had two strings, or not even that. But I managed to pick out a tune. . . . "That'll Be the Day" by Buddy Holly, I think. Or "Twenty Flight Rock." Something like that.

"My friend's mother said, 'Why don't you let Jeff borrow it?' He said, 'Yeah, alright.' And he never got it back."

Beck honed his chops with a couple of other bands before he joined the Yardbirds, whose hits included the Top 5 smash "For Your Love."

In the Yardbirds, "I felt I had to do the job that was required, which was not be too much of a nuisance, No. 1, and lead them to great things," Beck said, laughing.

"I was never fully satisfied, because Keith [Relf, Yardbirds singer] was the star of the show. I just had a problem with that.

"I used to use my pent-up frustration with just experimenting on riffs and different angles of rhythms and whatever else it took."

A bad meal hastened his departure from the group.

"I had some poisoned fish in France," Beck said. "Although I was ready to collapse anyway, the poisoned fish finished me off.

"I had this awful near-meningitis, an unbearable headache. You cannot describe the pain. It was like somebody putting a red-hot poker through one ear and out the other."

While he was recuperating, the Yardbirds decided to press on with Page on guitar.

"By that time, Jimmy had learned all my parts and they were up and running, so that put me out. . . . They politely refused to let me back in the band."

Left to his own devices, Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group, featuring Rod Stewart on lead vocals and future Rolling Stone Ron Wood on bass. They made a couple of seminal albums, 1968's "Truth" and 1969's "Beck-Ola."

Following a lineup change, the group disbanded in 1972. Since then, Beck's modus operandi might be summed up thus: Keep 'em guessing. His solo projects have found him embracing a range of styles, from bluesy rock to jazz fusion to electronica.

"He never stopped evolving," said Jan Hammer, the former Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist (and composer of the "Miami Vice" theme) who collaborated with Beck on a series of albums, starting with 1976's "Wired."

Beck "is the only one of the big guitar heroes of that era who reinvented himself, over and over," Hammer said.

Beck's gift for "effortless" improvisation also sets him apart, Hammer said.

"He just lets it happen," Hammer said. "There's nothing forced."

Beck attributed his creative restlessness to his mother's "gypsy" blood.

"She certainly had . . . a sense of what the future held," he said. "All moms have that, but hers was extra strong, and she passed that on to me -- curious feelings that I have when I know I should do something."

Beck also has made guest appearances on a host of albums by other artists, including Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and Roger Waters.

When Beck plays, his goal is "just not to make any mistakes," he said.

"I guess when you hear people like Miles Davis and Ray Charles -- we're talking the top black musicians, Ella Fitzgerald -- they don't know what bad notes are. Listening to them and Django Reinhardt, the supremacy these people had, the divine ability to play such perfect music is something that I always salute. I try to take a little bit of that with me.

"I just hope that even if a bit of that rubs off, I should be safe."

Singer Imogen Heap appears on Beck's new DVD, "Performing This Week . . . Live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club," filmed two years ago in London.

Beck "is such a lovely guy," Heap said. "He doesn't have this air of macho rock god around him. He's not into all that bravado."

Heap also sang on Beck's 2001 album, "You Had It Coming." He wowed her with the instrumental "Nadia" in the recording studio.

"I couldn't believe how much his guitar sounded like a voice," Heap said. "It was the way he bent the notes, the inflections he was getting flawlessly. . . . I was completely mesmerized."

Between musical commitments, Beck happily retreats to his secluded estate in the English countryside, where he fires up that oxygen-acetylene torch and builds hot rods.

"It's something I can't let go," he said of his automotive hobby. "It's been good to me. It's kept me physically fit and mentally alert.

"It avoids overkill on your playing, where you sometimes get too flash or a little bit too clever or just plain bored doing the same thing. So I recommend highly that someone at least in my position should have an outlet.

"I mean, Eric [Clapton] goes fly fishing. I like to get down and cut up into metal and make things."

What exactly does Beck do in that garage of his?

"Over the years, I've gradually learned to do all the things that can be done [to cars], that people want to charge you an arm and a leg for, like welding," he said.

"The only thing I don't do is upholstery. That's a special thing that you have to have professionally done. But all the chassis fabrication and body modifications and body preparation, I do.

"Musicians want everything their way. . . . And it's the same with hot rods. That's where the similarities lie -- just this curious desire to make things special and have them all different, or customized the way you want them."

Beck won't have much time to devote to his beloved cars in the next few months. He'll embark on a U.S. tour next week, including a stop Wednesday, April 15, at Cleveland's House of Blues. Later this year, he plans to finish his first new studio album since 2003's "Jeff."

"I'm sure we're all driven in different walks of life to do certain things, but with music, I seemed to know what I wanted to do," Beck said.

"Whether it was right or wrong, I followed it. And I think that's the best way to be, really. Follow your natural instinct."

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Great job on all the very indepth pre-game info and nostalgia. Well done. Looking forward to the broadcast at 9pm. Keep us informed with any insight or anything else you think is pertinent. Thanks!

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And if there is a way to see it, please let us know.

Fuse acquired exclusive broadcast rights for the 2009-2011 hall of fame induction ceremonies back in November. If you are a cable/satellite television subscriber in

North America tune in to Fuse at 9PM EST / 8 CST tonight for the festivities. Fuse

has been airing pre-produced Hall of Fame features all day long (stock footage of

Jimmy appears in a promotional spot but nothing else).

Rock Hall Inductions Move to Fuse TV

Friday, 20 Mar 2009

By DAVID BAUDER AP Television Writer

NEW YORK - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has moved its TV home to Fuse, giving Dave Weier a unique challenge in the weeks leading up to the April 4 induction in Cleveland.

Weier, vice president of talent and music at the cable channel, must try to interest Fuse's young viewers in an event that many of them may dismiss as being for relics only. At the same time, he's trying to entice older rock fans who wouldn't know Fuse favorites Paramore or Avenged Sevenfold if the bands were playing in their basement.

"I'm inspired by it," Weier said.

Fuse signed a three-year deal to televise the annual induction ceremony, ending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 12-year relationship with VH1.

VH1 was a music channel with its primary focus on older rock fans when the initial deal with the rock hall was made. But as it shifted to more lifestyle programming, live coverage of the induction ceremony was shunted off to VH1 Classic.

"We had a good relationship with VH1," said Joel Peresman, president of the rock hall foundation. "It's something we probably ould have continued, but the people at Fuse really stepped up."

Besides covering the ceremony, Fuse will also have programming leading up to it, and is interested in using material from past ceremonies throughout the year, the executives said.

Fuse, which primarily focuses on 18-to-25-year-old music fans in its regular programming, struck it lucky this year with Metallica and Run-DMC as the best-known inductees. Metallica is a master of heavy metal, a style that will talk eternally to teenage boys. Rappers Run-DMC were prominent during the early years of what is today's dominant popular music.

In archival rock hall footage that Fuse is featuring, Fuse will use clips of younger artists, like Gwen Stefani or Eddie Vedder, who appeared at past ceremonies to honor their forebears. When the Ramones were inducted, Green Day performed their music.

In a welcoming gesture to an older demographic, Fuse will subtly add more veteran artists to a program like "Loaded," which airs five consecutive videos from a single artist, Weier said.

For Fuse, the deal with the rock hall is particularly important because it is trying to establish a reputation as the place to go for music on cable television, in contrast to the MTV Networks. A big selling point for the rock hall is the effort to keep its work prominent for more than one day a year. Approaching its 25th anniversary, the hall will be marketing a DVD set this fall of highlights from past induction ceremonies, Peresman said.

Because of video games like "Guitar Hero," Fuse's young audience is more familiar with the work of rock hall inductees than many people realize, Weier said. Peresman has seen the video game influence at the hall of fame itself, where there has been a big increase in visitors aged 15-to-20 the past few years.

"These younger kids are kind of driving the whole family to go," he said.

Edited by SteveAJones
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