October 31, 2006

Danny Fields on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

A rather nice rant by former Ramones manager Danny Fields about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posted on a Patti Smith mailing list:

As for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...the doors have been shut for quite some time already [James Taylor, anybody?], and properly so. Nobody takes it seriously except old r&b acts still on the road; it'll up their guarantee about $50 to have Rock Hall credentials. For anyone else, it's kind of embarrassing to even think about it. When they finally got around to throwing me off the nominating committee (for being too old not to have known what was happening in the 1980's, I presume, I thanked them. It was a yearly routine--I'd nominate Kiss (not that I like them or their music or wanted to get an all-access pass) and people who were moaning about Ketchup Joe Williams or some bunch of doo-wop nothings would throw paper weights at me. So I guess it wasn't about fame. At my last meeting, I nominated Yoko Ono, made myself a pastrami sandwich (they always had good catering) and walked out, never to return.

No Kiss, no Iggy, what was this institution about, affirmative action? Nothing to do with my life, and when they wouldn't give me or Linda Stein, who managed the Ramones with me for the first astonishing five years of their career, tickets to the induction ceremony ($2500 apiece, I think, yeah, right, I'll see how much cash I have on me) that was it. Oh, I was offered a seat at the table for press biggies, like Hillburn et al, but you get to sit way in the back, and they put a bottle of water on the table (or was it a pitcher?) while everyone else had dinner. I said no thanks for this generous offer, and besides, there's something I want to hear at the Met that night.

So when Johnny Ramone asked Seymour Stein (president of the hall of fame, and president of the record company that first signed the band when I brought it to him in 1975) why I wasn't there the night the Ramones were inducted, he told Johnny that I preferred to go to the opera. I then had to repair my friendship with Johnny, whom I loved until the day he died. Seymour told me to take the shitty water-pitcher ticket and then "sneak up" to his ringside table. Again, no thanks, I don't sneak anywhere for my own band.

That's when I decided that it's kind of an evil institution. I mean, thank god the Ramones got in, the very first year they were eligible, which cannot be said of many artists; I had no opera tickets that night, and Linda Stein and I sat in her apartment and sent out for Chinese food, thus saving $5000, though being unable to participate in our own moment of professional glory.

Cleveland? It was doomed from the moment that city was chosen as its home, with all due respect to they-know-who-they-are.


Danny Fields

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