Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum Induction Ceremony

(January 17, 1996)
By Jann S. Wenner

“This music unites, inspires, uplifts. And whether it's for a kid listening to a radio in his upstairs bedroom or it’s in front of vast assemblies of people in giant stadiums, whether the song's about loneliness or love, or it's asking to give peace a chance, or if it's just about being on your own, with no direction home, this music has crossed all boundaries of race and religion, and politics, and nations, and even finally generations, and no one can stop it, no matter how hard they tried. The building we built shall remind us of that energy, and that power forever. ”

Jann Wenner:I suppose that looking at this fabulous collection of lava lamps, and the signs you can see the theme of the evening in honor of our friend Dr. Timothy Leary. If you ordered the fruit salad tonight, and also certain salads at certain tables, you’ll know.

I’d like to read you a letter we’ve received today from the White House signed by the president of the United States. “Warm greetings to everyone gathered in New York City for the eleventh annual induction dinner of the Rock and Roll hall of fame. I’m delighted to join the honoring of this year’s inductees, David Bowie, Tom Donahue, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jefferson Airplane, Little Willie John, Pink Floyd, Pete Seeger, The Shirellles, and The Velvet Underground. Rock and Roll is one of our nation’s greatest and most enduring cultural gifts to the world. Rock is simultaneously a celebration of youthful energy, and a reflection of humanity's oldest emotions. Lending their vision and talent to rock and roll, from its genesis to the present day, this year's distinguished inductees have enriched our culture, and moved millions of listeners around the world to dance sing and celebrate. I join you in saluting these legends of rock for their measurable gifts to our musical heritage. Best wishes for a wonderful event, Bill Clinton.

Before beginning tonight’s dinner, we’re going to roll a short film of highlights from the opening celebration of the Hall of Fame in Cleveland this past September. For those of you who missed the concert that we did that night, that’s going to be shown again this Saturday on HBO. It’s going to be a three-hour version, not the five hour and forty-five minute version. Ahmet and I have been cut, but it will be okay.

I’m happy to report that the museum has been a terrific success. Over 200,000 people have visited it since we’ve opened the doors. The reviews from music critics, and architectural critics, and reporters, and fans, and musicians have been enthusiastically positive. Everyone here, every one of you, has every reason to be proud of what you supported for so long. Joining us tonight by the way, our partners in this, Governor George Voinovich, who’s watching us from Cleveland, hello Cleveland! And Mayor Michael White, and our hall of fame CEO Bill Hewlett, who are both here with us tonight in this room. Thank you gentleman for all of your support. God bless again, and again, and again.

I believe that the building we built justly and honestly reflects the debt that we owe to the music and provides a setting that’s appropriate to its historical, social, and artistic importance. We have gathered in one place, at long last, and before they might have been lost to us, the artifacts and the documents, the images, and the work of those who are the fathers, and the godfathers of rock, and the kings, and the queens of soul, and those who have followed in their footsteps, and whose names have become written so large in our lives.

This music unites, inspires, uplifts, and whether it's for a kid listening to a radio in his upstairs bedroom, or whether it's four kids who are jamming in a garage downstairs, somewhere, or it’s a bar band, or it’s in front of vast assemblies of people in giant stadiums, and whether the song’s about loneliness or love, or it's asking to give peace a chance, or it's raising money and concern about the human condition, or if it's just about being on your own, with no direction home, this music has crossed all boundaries of race and religion, and politics, and nations, and even finally generations, and no one can stop it, no matter how hard they tried. And the building we built shall remind us of that energy, and that power forever. So, enjoy this film and enjoy this evening, thank you very much.