by Frank Lewis
“This week, the eyes of the world are on Cleveland,” Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart said this morning to dozens of reporters assembled at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to kick off Induction Week. After thanking everyone, including the politicians who lobbied to bring the induction ceremonies back to Cleveland for the first time since 1997, Stewart proceeded to introduce a variety of guest speakers.
Frank Sullivan, President of the Rock Hall’s Board of Trustees, called the Rock Hall “one of the best run not-for-profit institutions in the country” and said that when he travels the world, everyone he meets recognizes Cleveland as the home of rock ’n’ roll. Positively Cleveland President Dennis Roche said the Rock Hall has made Cleveland one of the top travel destinations in the country and cited a number of statistics to back his claim up, concluding the inductions are “the loudest way to celebrate what the Rock Hall does 365 days a year.”
Even the usually expressionless Mayor Frank Jackson showed some enthusiasm, taking a jab at big-city snobbery as he bragged, “People will see Cleveland as a great place. It’s not New York; that’s why we’re having a weeklong party and inviting the average person.”
After a rambling congratulatory speech by Senator Voinovich (who said he was wearing the same T-shirt he wore 20-something years ago when it was announced that the Rock Hall would be coming to Cleveland), Lt. Governor Peggy Fisher presented a proclamation to Parliament-Funkadelic’s Bootsy Collins and the O’Jays’ Walt Williams, both inductees. Williams talked about his history with the O’Jays, adding that “this has been quite a journey,” while the flamboyant Collins, dressed in an outlandish bright purple outfit, said “What a freakin’ honor!” Clearly ecstatic, he concluded his short speech about how important it is to keep rock ’n’ alive by saying: “People in Cleveland just take the Rock Hall for granted. Man, this is some powerful stuff. We will be funnnnkin’ it up!” ’Nuff said. — Jeff Niesel
Photo, from left: Terry Stewart, Walter Williams, Peggy Zone Fisher, Bootsy Collins.