On one hand, it must be the coolest job in the world. On the other, you can never satisfy everyone. That’s the rub for Joel Peresman, the CEO and President of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Over the years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been criticized for, among other things, not being accessible to the public, seeming a bit old (artists need to have been active at least 25 years prior to be eligible) and for ignoring some legends of hard rock (famously, KISS).
This year’s induction ceremony was, for the third time ever, open to the public. It went down at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and featured Carrie Underwood, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Questlove of the Roots, St. Vincent and pop superstar Lorde. Oh, and this year finally saw KISS being inducted, following the recent nods to hard rocks forebears such as Black Sabbath, Rush, Metallica and AC/DC.
So, this year’s ceremony was criticized from different corners for being too long (the E Street Band segment lasted nearly an hour), for becoming too much of an arena rock event (by inductee and former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who declined to attend) and even by the members of KISS. To boot, founding members and bosses Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were upset that only the original lineup — which also included Peter Criss and Ace Frehley — were being inducted, and not any of their subsequent replacements; they ultimately decided to attend the ceremony but not perform. Similarly, there was a bit of confusion over whether or not former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing would be inducted. Ultimately, he was not.
All of that aside, for those who attended the ceremony, it was a great night. The tribute to Linda Ronstadt (who was unable to attend for health reasons), featured Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks and served as a reminder that her influence still extends from the top of the pop charts to the hippest coffeehouse. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed with former keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez for the first time in ages. And Nirvana’s performance — featuring guest vocals by Joan Jett, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, St. Vincent and Lorde — blew minds.
A few weeks later, Radio.com spoke with Peresman about the epic night.
How do you feel about this year’s induction ceremony in retrospect?
Peresman: It worked out really well. We had a great lineup of talent. It was nice to have a lot of the inductees perform. In the cases where people couldn’t perform, like Linda Ronstadt, to be able to put together an incredible slate of women to come salute her music. It’s something we’ve done over the years, having interesting musical collaborations. But that it came through with contemporary artists like Carrie Underwood, and have them with Linda’s contemporaries like Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Nicks. Stevie mentioned how much Linda influenced her and that her influence pushed her to become a singer. Those kinds of moments are what the Hall of Fame’s show is all about.