In this interview, 1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Smokey Robinson reflects on first time at the Apollo Theater and being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Don't miss the Rock Hall's Music Masters tribute concert to Smokey Robinson on Saturday, November 7, 2015.
Wow, to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was such a surprise to me, it was such an honor, such a joyful time for me.
I believe, if I'm not mistaken, I was inducted on the second induction [in 1987]. The first induction was Elvis Presley and, oh gosh, Little Richard [in 1986]. But I never thought that I would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It just was something that I said, "Oh wow, this is great."
And they started the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it's like a dream. It's like you have this thought that you'd like to be there. You'd love to be recognized like that. It's like when the Miracles and I first went to the Apollo Theater, ever. It was our first really professional date.
We had never really been too ...
Ask any Clevelander who heard Smokey Robinson perform here early on in his career, and they’ll likely tell you about Leo’s Casino.
Leo’s Casino, designated a historic rock and roll landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, stood at 7500 Euclid Avenue on Cleveland’s east side. From the time it opened in 1963, Leo’s featured Motown artists on a regular basis. “It was a very important club to us,” Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., told The Plain Dealer. The Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and – of course – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were among the acts that played there, often using the 700-seat, racially integrated venue to hone their acts.
Throughout the 1960s, the Miracles returned to Leo’s Casino at least once a year for a four-evening stint, performing as many as three shows each night. One of these performances was even filmed in 1966 for a nationally televised documentary on the Miracles. In addition to playing ...
"It took an iconic radio station, WHK, and an anglophile disc jockey, Ron Britton, to bring what is arguably the most popular British rock group ever, the Beatles, to Cleveland, Ohio, the 'Home of Rock and Roll,'" says Lynn Jones, who was a young boy when the Fab Four made their concert debut in Cleveland. "On September 15, 1964, the Cleveland rock and roll world exploded, first on Public Square when thousands gathered to wave up to the Beatles and Ron Britton as they waved back from open windows… and then, 'The Concert.'"
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr stayed at the Sheraton-Cleveland, which was surrounded by a police cordon given the fan fervor. Cunning Cleveland police used a riot van traveling between the concert venue, Cleveland's Public Hall, as a decoy. Adoring Beatles fans eventually caught on to the fact that the Fab Four were not in the van, but the group still managed to escape undetected from inside the hotel not long before showtime.
"Sitting with the WHK station managers, Ron’s wife Peach, my wife Ann, and sister Kathy," remembers Jones, "we watched from 40 feet away as screaming girls and women rushed ...
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 ...
"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 ...
"Stevie Ray Vaughan is the ultimate guitar hero," proclaimed John Mayer as he inducted Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "[His playing] was as otherworldly as Hendrix, but where Hendrix was coming down from outer space, Stevie came up from below the ground. …Some flowers come up through the ground in full bloom. He was the ultimate guitar hero, and heroes live forever."
“He was a great guitar player,” Vaughan said, accepting the Hall of Fame honor on behalf of brother Stevie. “He could play beautiful, he could play mean and he could play fun. He could drag you along. …But what you heard with Stevie was his enthusiasm for everything. That’s why people love his music. …He loved playing guitar more than anybody I know.”
A who's who of axe slingers took the stage with the original members of Double Trouble to deliver blistering versions of two Stevie Ray Vaughan tracks: "Pride and Joy" and "Texas Flood;" and Jimmie Vaughan's tribute to his brother "Six Strings Down." The set kicked off with "Pride and Joy," as John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr., Doyle Bramhall and Jimmie Vaughan traded licks ...
"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.''
Recently, former Black Flag frontman, solo artist and writer Henry Rollins shared his top 10 underground songs of all time with Esquire magazine. So what does that have to do with Cleveland's rock history? Turns out, a lot.
Mid-70s Cleveland was the perfect breeding ground for a band like Pere Ubu. The city had seen better days, and amid the post-industrial bleakness, a group of young creative men formed Pere Ubu. "Ohio was one of the most fertile grounds for what could be called underground music. I could make this list only using bands from this state and do just fine," Rollins said. "David Thomas, Pere Ubu's vocalist and leader of the band to this day, has been making records under the Pere Ubu moniker as well as solo for decades. He is one of my favorite performers, and I see him whenever the opportunity presents itself. The band's early singles are now fairly pricey items... What is true of [the Pere Ubu track] 'Final Solution' is true of this initial batch of Ubu. It is visionary stuff from the schools of rock, what would be called punk, and art, all mixing with time, place, and restless ...