When Cleveland was chosen as the home for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, but not as the host city for the induction ceremony, many Northeast Ohioans were unhappy. But, the times they are a changin.’
More recently, the city has hosted the event every three years, and starting this April the inductions will be alternating between Cleveland and New York. Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris said the induction ceremony is a complicated affair with a lot of moving parts. Does that mean hosting it more frequently would put more pressure on his staff?
“You might think so,” he said. “But, quite the contrary. The more you do something, the better you get at it. We’ve learned a lot. The binders are made, the checklists are already there. This year, we’re looking at: how do we amplify what we’ve done in the past?”
Some of the plans include a newly-created Hall of Fame floor, a fan celebration the week before the event with inductee music, a fireworks display over the lake and free admission to the museum.
The 2018 inductees include, Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone and an award for Early Influence to gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Harris acknowledges that some critics are complaining this list is heavy with ‘dad rock’ acts that have little interest for younger fans. But, he argues that the induction ceremony marries yesterday and today, pointing to the 2014 event where contemporary singer St. Vincent played in tribute to Nirvana.
“You get a John Legend honoring Dr. John,” Harris said. “To us, that’s the perfect mixture.”
And while amplifier volumes will likely be set to eleven for the performances on stage, Harris says there’s more to the inductions than meets the ear.
“The impact to the region is over $16 million,” he said, citing research by the economic development organization Team NEO. “And then there’s a corresponding number that they use that’s called the media impact. How many people saw it and learned about Cleveland? How did it promote the city? That number’s closer to $30 million.”
The induction ceremony takes place Saturday April 14 at Cleveland Public Auditorium.