Easy, peaceful music, sweet harmonies. Induction ceremonies for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, perhaps, never seemed more sedate.
That's what you get for inviting a bunch of laid-back Southern California-types.
The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Mamas and the Papas--all leaders of the Los Angeles music scene of the 1960s and 1970s--were among eight acts formally recognized as rock's Hall of Famers.
Santana, 1950s rocker Gene Vincent ("Be-Bop-A-Lula"), pioneer rocker Lloyd Price ("Lawdy Mis Clawdy"), jazz great Jelly Roll Morton, producer Allen Toussaint were the other honorees at the black-tie ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Since the hall's inception 13 years ago, the selling point of the induction gala hasn't been the glitz, the famous attendees (actor Michael Douglas, rapper Puff Daddy, among the A-list crowd last night) or the rubber-chicken dinner, but the show--the legends (the ones still alive, at least) taking to the stage and proving to the audience and their peers why they belong.
Monday saw Santana, introduced by Blues Traveler's John Popper, open the show with its signature hit, "Black Magic Woman"--a song written by, and for, one of Fleetwood Mac's early lineups.
Fleetwood Mac was next to the stage.
"They are and were what inspired me," said Sheryl Crow in prefacing remarks, crediting Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" with stoking her own rock dreams.
In keeping with the band's fractious reputation, Mac's performance was split into two parts: first, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham rendered touching versions of "Landslide" and "Big Love," then, Christine McVie led the group--minus the absent John McVie--in "Say You Love Me." (A total of eight Mac members, including namesake Mick Fleetwood, were inducted into the hall, reflecting the band's changeling reputation, dating back to 1967.)
The Mamas & the Papas, who crystallized what it meant to be young and hippie-dippie in L.A. in the 1960s, offered a version of their classic-rock radio staple, "California Dreamin'" with an assist from the child of one of the quartet's late members. Owen Elliot, the 30-year-old daughter of "Mama" Cass Elliot, joined John Phillips, his ex-wife Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty on stage. Cass Elliot died in 1974.
"Cass is sitting on the full moon, looking down wearing a size 6 Thierry Muegler dress--and loving it," Michelle Phillips said.
The Eagles closed out the night. Don Henley, trying to prove he still has an edge after all these years, jokingly referred to the ceremony as a "suspicious occasion."
"I like to think this award is for accomplishment--not for being famous, but for doing the work," Henley said.
The group performed "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California"--the evening's swan song.
Fellow member Glenn Frey summed up the night as much as the Eagles when he remarked, "[We] were a very laid-back band who played music in a very high-stress situation. We got along fine. We just differed a lot."
Cable's VH1 will air highlights of the ceremony next Monday.