Saturday, June 15, 2024

Rock Hall Dinners Tonight: One for Jann Wenner, One for Everyone Else


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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