(Introduction: This is the final part 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 Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs, with pictures from her, Patti Murawski and Jennie Swenton. Thanks to them all and Paul Hedges for the images and the accounts.)
“All of the tremendous difficulties to garner a ticket to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremonies, and to pay for it (way very pricy on Vivid Seats), and to make plans to attend were more than worth every bit of it,” ,” Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs, who attended the Saturday event, told Beatles Examiner. “Cleveland was alive with excitement at the return of the ceremonies to the birthplace of Rock and Roll and had parties all over town in anticipation. All the hotels had special events; the Hall had parties; all of Cleveland was on Rock Mode.
“The Ceremonies were had in the Public Hall where The Beatles had played when they performed in Cleveland. It is a CAVERNous venue which is not very patron friendly. The vertical pitch of the stairs up with no handrail is rather terrifying. No matter. The music of the artists of the night would have made us climb Everest if it were necessary to hear them,” she said.
“One of the officials in the Vault of the Hall told me Sunday that Joan Jett had asked for Miley Cyrus to induct her and was insistent about it. Joan Jett and Miley have been long-time friends. Miley was irreverent and respectful and adoring, all at the same time. When we finally came to having music, Joan Jett BLASTED off the night with true Jett engines. That was a terrific start. An hour was over before her induction was finished, but most of that time was speeches.
“Bill Withers was one of the highlights of the incredibly long night (last note sounded was at 1:43 a.m. after a 7:30 p.m. start!) It seemed as though he had a comedic writer, for his speech was terrific. Best lines he had: ‘This may be the largest AA meeting in North America. Is that Yoko Ono down there (as he leaned way forward and waved, to howls of laughter). Who else came here with a Legend and a Wonder! (Stevie Wonder introduced and inducted him and John Legend performed his music).’ My favorite was: ‘Stevie Wonder knows my name and the Brother just put me in The Hall of Fame.’ I also loved that he was unapologetic about the length of his speech. ‘There aren’t eight of me, so I’ll just talk as long as I like.’ I loved his time, and his music. His Induction ended at 12:10 a.m.
“The other inductees had wonderful stories, so many stories. And, the music was rocking. Did I mention that there were so many stories. Many more stories than music, to my surprise.
“Gabriel Butterfield was at the 2015 inductees exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when Beatles Examiner was given exclusive access for shots. He was just like anyone would be if their father were going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – over the moon. He seemed delighted to chat and to tell all about Paul Butterfield and The Butterfield Blues Band. He made me a fan. And, his enthusiasm continued in his speech at the ceremonies. Each band member told such interesting, long stories.
“Green Day seemed to have more ‘fans’ in Cleveland and in the house than any other constituency (they performed Friday night at the House of Blues); and they were not disappointed. I had seen Billie Jo Armstrong at the Forecastle Festival last year as one of the guitarists replacing one of the originals in The Replacements, of all things. He’s a dude to be adored for his talent, for sure. I could listen to him play forever. Green Day did not disappoint and gave an energetic and terrific set that had the whole joint jumping.
“One of my pleasant surprises for the whole evening was that each performer left his and her ‘too cool for school’ at the door. Everyone was thrilled to be included, and let their excitement rocket through.
“It was so refreshing to see our icons and idols basking a bit as their real selves, not their publicity ready persona,” Fuchs said. “Billie Joe Armstrong was particularly expressive. Bill Withers joked that he was the oldest living inductee and he thought he might not make it. But, he said it meant the world to him.
“There were many long delays during the evening. But, somehow, there was Paul McCartney on the stage, smiling, and waving, and grinning and clowning. It made me think of the one we always thought of as the class clown in that band as Paul danced about a bit. Paul’s speech (see earlier article for link to text) was genuinely loving, and warm, and glowing. I’ve heard it before but it was lovely to hear it here. It went something like “John and I used to wonder about drummers and whether they’d get the beat, get us where we were going. It was a worry. With Ringo, he just showed up and did what had to be done. You never had to check on Ringo; he was always right there. When Ringo first drummed for us, we became The Beatles. You don’t have to look for Ringo he’s always there.” At one point, Paul engaged in a bit of silly “air drumming” which really was pretty terrific to see.
“And, then there was Ringo. I got near the shot we all want to keep forever, the hug of two boys who’ve been brothers forever. It was wonderful. (See earlier article for that shot.)
“I’ve struggled to find the right description for Ringo during his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Fuchs said. “Euphoric comes closest. He was sparkling, witty, laughing, dancing (no, really, he did more of a true dance several times), teasing, and he held that whole mammoth building in the palm of those able hands. He had us hooked.
“And, he kept on reeling us in. He even got a bit of a gig in on Paul who came on stage to hurry Ringo up in his very interesting recitation of his earliest musical days, even before Rory and the Hurricanes. Paul came out and tapped his watch with emphasized drama. Ringo retorted by saying Paul, Paul, Paul it doesn’t always have to be about Paul. They both laughed.
“Then, what we all came to see, hear, experience, if only one more time: Our boys on stage together rocking our universe, a universe they helped form for all of us all those years ago. They rocked our socks off. It was just so FABulous!
“First Green Day backed Ringo on ‘Boys,’” she said. “Then there was an overly lengthy delay for the stage changeover. Ringo bantered for longer than he liked and joked about having to do that and not having enough material. He leaned into the pit and hugged two fortunate girls. Finally, the stage just was quiet while they readied. Then, Ringo was backed by Joe Walsh and many others on ‘It Don’t Come Easy.’
“Paul and Ringo launched into ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ while the stage filled with all of the performers of the night. When Ringo sang the lyric that “I get high with a little help from my friends” he pointed his finger skyward to include the other two brothers who’ve gone on ahead, John, and George. That moment will stay with me all of my days.
“Finally, Paul and all of the performers joined together for the finale, ending the incredible night joining Ringo on ‘I Want to Be Your Man. All of the Ringo set truly was a wonderful group experience. My ultimate take-away was Ringo, exuberant and joyful, and IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. Hey Hey!
“Do whatever you must to see the HBO special. (Note: 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.) The night was one never to be forgotten, memories to cherish forever. If you looked just so, our Beatles were back in the house, and rockin’ and rollin’ for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 inductions.”