The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2012 inductees, a list that includes the usual spate of HOF-y names (the Small Faces, ‘60s singer Donovan, blues guitarist Freddie King, etc) plus a handful of artists that made their mark in the MTV era: the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N’ Roses.
And while none of those latter three are exactly surprising (though, we gotta admit, the Cure, who were also in the running this year but didn’t make the cut, were robbed), what may transpire when they’re enshrined at the Hall’s annual induction ceremony — set for April 14 in beautiful Cleveland — could shock the rock world to its very core. Because, as is tradition, the honored acts will take the stage to perform a medley of their biggest hits, and while we’re reasonably sure what will happen when the Beasties and the Peppers do their thing, when it comes to GN’R … well, let’s just say all bets are off.
Unless you’ve been off the grid for most of the past two decades, you are probably aware that things aren’t exactly rosy in the Guns camp … and haven’t been for quite some time. The majority of the acrimony has been evenly split between frontman/mastermind Axl Rose and iconic top-hatted guitarist Slash (though, given how many folks have come and gone from GN’R’s lineup in the time since, there’s plenty of bad blood to go around). The two have traded barbs ever since Slash left the band in 1996, and though Guns continues to tour, many of their diehard fans believe that they’re just not the same without his masterful axe work and mercurial stage presence (no disrespect to the dude who plays the guitar shaped like a foot, of course). It’s been nearly 20 years since Slash has performed with the band, though, at April’s HOF induction ceremony, that could change. And yes, the Rock Gods will be smiling if it does.
Then again, it’s no sure bet that Slash and Axl will be able to bury the hatchet … after all, in the grand history of the Rock Hall ceremony, there’ve been plenty of examples of bands that just couldn’t get past the hatred — or the past, for that matter — when it came time to take the stage. And though we’re hoping the same doesn’t happen with GN’R, here’s a look back at some of the most acrimonious, disharmonious and downright uncomfortable moments in Rock Hall history.
The Beach Boys Bash Everybody
The Beach Boys got the call from the Hall in 1988, and singer Mike Love used the opportunity to rip everyone in the room … and a whole lot of folks that weren’t. Standing on stage, Love launched into a lengthy speech that was, in theory, about “harmony” and “love,” but also managed to take shots at Paul McCartney (“[he] couldn’t be here tonight because he’s in a lawsuit with Ringo and Yoko”), Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Mick Jagger (“I’d like to see [him] get out on the stage and do ‘I Get Around’ versus ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ any day!”) The audience responded first with wild cheers, then catcalls, and finally a smattering of boos, to which Love replied, “I don’t care what anybody in this room thinks.” And the bar for public acrimony was officially raised.
The Blondie Battle
In 2006, New York new-wave pioneers Blondie finally were inducted into the Hall, though given everything that played out during their induction, perhaps voters are reconsidering the honor. After frontwoman Deborah Harry, guitarist Chris Stein, keyboardist Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke accepted their awards, former members Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison — who unsuccessfully sued to rejoin the band on its 1998 reunion tour — raided the podium and begged to perform.
Harry shot their request down while a stunned audience looked on (“Can’t you see my real band is up there?” she spat), and Blondie tore through a set of their hits. Not one to forgive, Stein would subsequently announce to the assembled media that he was keeping an eye on his Rock Hall trophy, “In case I see one of those f**kers back here.”
The Great Van Halen No-Show
In 2007, Van Halen — a group no stranger to in-fighting — made the Hall, and speculation quickly swirled about just who would show up to perform at the induction ceremony. Would guitarist Eddie Van Halen (who, in the months leading up to the gala, had entered a rehabilitation center for treatment) put aside his ill-will for dynamic former frontman David Lee Roth? Would the band’s other frontman, Sammy Hagar, who had been jettisoned (or quit) in 1996 (but reunited with the band for a 2004 tour), show up? How about former bassist Michael Anthony? And what of poor Gary Cherone?
In the end, it was just Hagar and Anthony who made the trip to New York, and though they were gracious in accepting the award (and thanked all their former bandmates), their performance with Paul Shaffer (which was separate from a tribute perf by Velvet Revolver) left fans wanting more. Luckily, they’d get it on a subsequent reunion tour with Roth fronting the band … and Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass.