John Mellencamp IS IN The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!
03.15.2008 - John Mellencamp was toasted by his family, friends, and his peers upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past Monday night.
The evening was a significant one for Mellencamp and fans, alike, with many news articles commenting that he was truly the class act of the eveningís festivities with his heartfelt speech and rousing performance!
John was inducted by his friend and fellow hall inductee Billy Joel who offered a rather humorous induction speech in true-Mellencamp tradition. However, at the end of his speech, Billy made sure to praise John for some of his biggest contributions to music when he noted "...donít let this club membership change you John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off and restless, because no matter what they tell us, we know, this country is going to hell in a handcart. This countryís been hijacked. You know it, and I know it. People are worried, people are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours to echo the discontent thatís out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. (crowd applauds) They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation, desperation. They need to know that somebody out there feels the way they do, in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it and it doesnít matter if they hear it on a jukebox in the local gin mill or in a (bleep) truck commercial. Because they ainít gonna hear it on the radio anymore! They donít care how they hear it as long as they hear it. Good and loud and clear, the way youíve always been saying it all along. Youíre John, this is still our country, and someoneís gotta tell Ďem, donít take any (bleep), and John, you do that very well."
John followed with a fantastic speech of his own where he recalled some of the twists and turns his life has taken, from his birth with the neural tube defect Spina Bifida, to being saddled with the name Johnny Cougar, his rise to fame, working with many great band members, record label people, managers , industry people, and, of course, being blessed by his loving family and fans.
John closed his very eloquent speech by saying: "...when I came to New York, I was the unwashed, unwanted immigrant worker who showed up everyday who wanted my ticket to go to work. Some days I was on top of the coffee bags and some days I was down in the hole. I had to create my own job because New York and Los Angeles didnít have a job for me inside the music business. So I created a job outside the music business, and I was fortunate enough to write a couple of songs that connected with people and people thought the songs were about them... and I want to thank those people.
And Iíve been a total walking contradiction my entire career, and I intend to stay that way. Iíve never cared about money... but I always wanted to get paid. (crowd laughs) I never cared about having hit records, but I always wanted to hear my songs on the radio. I never cared what the critics had to say, but I always paid close attention to what they wrote.
After 32 years of having the opportunity, from playing many years, playing in the back rooms of bars, and the barns, and getting an education from the farm workers, and the factory workers, watching the struggle of the people far away, people far away from the interstate that the public eye no longer looks at, the people who built this country on their sweat, who built this country have slowly and silently been left behind.
Iím the guy who rolls the ball up the hill, who wakes up every morning to find that the ball is back at the bottom of the hill. Iím that guy.
"And as long as I can hear a song that puts a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat, I know thereís still hope and I got a job thatís unfinished. Thereís still work to be done. You know, the sword is a mighty weapon, but it ainít nothing compared to the songs and the words in the songs that we sing, so... thanks a lot."
John then took center stage joining his outstanding band. They launched into a killer version of Pink Houses getting the crowd on their feet. Strapping on an acoustic guitar, John delivered a touching acoustic version of Small Town (joined by Miriam Sturm on violin). He then closed his mini set with an earth-shaking version of Authority Song which saw his 12-year-old son, Speck, joining the Mellencamp band on electric guitar.
John and the band's evening wasn't over yet ,though, they served as the house band for the show-closing jam celebrating the Dave Clark Five. First playing Bits and Pieces
with Joan Jett on lead vocals and
closing with Glad All Over with JM and John Fogerty sharing lead vocals. John was joined by Billy Joel, Paul Schaefer, and several members of the Late Show with David Letterman's CBS Orchestra along with several inductees.
All in all, it was an incredible night for John, and one that won't be forgotten by us, his loving fans.
P.S. Some great Mellenheads have transcribed John and Billy's full speeches. You can read them by clicking HERE. Thanks to Paula E., Lori H., Kyra D., Cindy B., and Diantha M. for their help transcribing and proofing!
Photo credits for the images from top to bottom:
Joel/Mellencamp picture by Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
John talking picture by Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
John playing guitar picture by Kevin Kane/WireImage
John playing solo/acoustic picture by Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
Mellencamp/Band picture by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage