How much does Jann Wenner sneer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio? Tonight Wenner is hosting a pre -induction ceremony dinner (the annual event is tomorrow night at the Waldorf) for the inductees–Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Darlene Love, Tom Waits, and Dr. John, plus Leon Russell and Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman–at the Spotted Pig restaurant in the West Village. The guest list includes Wenner’s inner circle and close pals, but excludes many members of the Board of the Directors of the Foundation. It also excludes people attached to the museum. They’re having a separate low key dinner at another locale for big museum donors.
Wenner’s dinner will include Joel Peresman, who runs the foundation for him and earns just under $400,000 despite the Rock Hall’s embarrassing failure at having a New York outpost (came and gone within a year). Peresman’s job is help pick the five inductees each year. According to the Rock Hall’s latest tax filing–which contains less information than ever– the Foundation still lists nothing given to musicians in need, and a mere $25,000 to “music scholarships” (no details). Other guests are sure to include Bono and the Edge, trapped in town by “Spider Man,” and assorted Wenner favorites like Yoko Ono and Keith Richards.
The choice of inductees was so screwed up this year that Dr. John, a great musician who is technically a “sideman,” gets in as a star while Leon Russell enters as a sideman having hit singles (“Tight Rope,” “Lady Blue”) and writing three rock classics: “A Song for You,” “Superstar,” and “This Masquerade.” Elton John, quite rightly, forced the issue to make sure Russell was in as something.
Still not in the Hall of Fame: everyone from Chubby Checker and Billy Preston to the Turtles, Chicago, the Moody Blues, Hall & Oates, Todd Rundgren, Mary Wells, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Neil Sedaka, Laura Nyro, Mitch Ryder, Carole King (as a performer), Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, Sting (as a solo artist), and dozens more.
Last year I reported that Wenner, desperate to get more stars into the Hall, suggested the group cut the eligibility time down from 25 to 20 or 15 years. The idea was met with derision.