(Introduction: This is the first of a series of eyewitness accounts with exclusive pictures of Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony that honored Ringo Starr. This account is from Patti Murawski, with pictures from her, Jennie Swenton, Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs and Paul Hodges. Thanks to them all. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, presented by Klipsch, premieres at 8 p.m. ET May 30 on HBO and will be repeated many times after and also be available on HBO Go and HBO Now.)
According to Patti Murawski, who attended the April 18 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in Cleveland, Ringo Starr, wife Barbara Bach, her sister Marjorie and husband (and Ringo’s brother-in-law) Joe Walsh along with Olivia Harrison, arrived together at 7 p.m. on the red carpet at the side door where HBO and all the TV stations and press were set up. Yoko Ono arrived wearing a long black dress and a white top hat. She said Dave Grohl and company arrived before Ringo as did Beck. She also saw Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Vaughn and Double Trouble arrive as well.
“We waited until 7:30 to see if Paul (McCartney) would arrive, but all of a sudden HBO and the TV and the press started breaking down equipment so we decided we had better get inside as we could hear music starting. It was a long walk upstairs in public hall to the balcony (long steep ramps!) and there was absolutely no personnel to direct us to the entrance of our section or to our seats so we had to figure it out ourselves,” she said.
“We missed Joan Jett and came in on the very end of ‘Crimson and Clover.’ So we missed her performing with Dave Grohl and Tommy James, which is a shame because I would’ve liked to have seen that. But I guess we’ll catch it when we find somebody who has HBO on May 30.”
She said the set design obstructed the view of the video screen at the back of the stage from her seat, which was not sold as an obstructed view seat. “Not cool especially considering the ticket was pricey,” she said. “I am guessing a lot of the public seats had that problem unless you were looking straight on from the back.
“When we got inside and sat down I spotted Yoko with her white hat. Lucky for me she wore that white hat because it was easier to keep tabs on the location of the table through the night. I saw that the rest of the Fab family were sitting at the same table. To my surprise Paul was already seated with Nancy at the table so he probably never left after rehearsals.”
She said at their table was Jerry Lee Lewis. Yoko was sitting next to him, then Paul, Nancy, Barbara Bach, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Marjorie Bach, Olivia Harrison and the woman who was with Jerry Lee Lewis. At the beginning of the festivities when they first made speech about the class of 2015, Ringo was introduced. “He stood and waved to the audience, making sure he turned to acknowledge all sides of the auditorium. They also had announced that Jerry Lee Lewis was in the house and he stood up and waved, too.” Jerry Lee didn’t stay through the whole ceremony and left during the artist introcuctions.
“At one point Yoko got up to leave the room and hugged Miley Cyrus as she passed by her table,” Murawski said. “When Yoko came back she stopped at Paul’s chair to talk to him. Then she went around him and sat down next to him with chairs pulled closer together. It was interesting to watch the interaction at their table. At various times they switched seats, or turned their chairs to watch the festivities. Interesting to see who was talking to who and which artists held their interest.”
She said Yoko got up and danced during Double Trouble and Jimmy Vaughan. “Nancy was grooving in her chair,” she said. Nancy also got up and danced during Green Day. Paul got up near the end of one song and danced alongside her.” She said there were also some pretty tender moments with Nancy sitting behind Paul leaning over the back of his chair with her arms around his neck and shoulders.”
The night was rather long and Murawski says they had only gotten through four of the eight inductees by 10:30 p.m. “But I was expecting a long night. I remembered hearing somebody outside saying that the ceremony usually runs about two hours longer than they expect. I could believe it because some of the speeches went on and on and ran over their allotted time.”
There was a huge Teleprompter in front of the soundboard behind all the invited guests tables putting up the text of the speeches for the various inductors and inductees. Several times people ran over and went off script. There was a huge countdown clock when the group as a whole had 30 seconds left and it would count down to zero and start flashing 00:00 reminds the speaker that he had run out of time. One of the speakers kept going on and on in what appeared on the Teleprompter screen was a message underscored: “Wrap it up!,” she said.
“Despite not being a Green Day fan I was impressed with their speeches and with their performance. Patti Smith’s and Laurie Anderson’s speeches for the induction of Lou Reed was particularly interesting too,” she said. “And all the Fab wives got up and danced during the Bill Withers set performed by Stevie Wonder and John Legend. At that point, Paul had already gone backstage in anticipation of Ringo’ s induction and Ringo was absent from the table but came back.”
Now it was time for Paul to induct Ringo.
(To be continued. You can see Paul’s speech for Ringo in the video on this page. )