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May 9, 2006
Traditionally the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony has been a chance for music bigwigs to get together and pat each other on the back, to honor some long-forgotten and irrelevant act with an entry into the annals of history, and to have a bit of a party, soundtracked by embarrassing historical highlights like Jimmy Buffet.

However, for the 2006 ceremonies in mid-March things took a decidedly different turn with the induction of relatively non-hokey artists like Blondie, the Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath, Miles Davis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. One would have anticipated the Sex Pistols to cause a scene, which indeed they did by accepting in the only way that would suit their persona - they were a no-show, instead leaving Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner to read their note of explanation, which has since been posted on the web. What is most alarming about the note is how illegible it is, awash with poor spelling, punctuation and grammar. But you do have to love the stuff about 'urine in wine'.

It's disappointing, methinks, when musical icons turn out to be not as intelligent as you think they are. One could only assume John Lydon to be the architect of this latest folly, a predictable move for the anarchic clown image that he so consistently portrays. Stop it, Jonathan, you are quite ridiculous!

Does anybody take the Sex Pistols seriously anymore? I mean, come on - more amusing was ousted Pistol Glen Matlock's attempts to get his point of view in various media outlets, rambling on about how the Hall of Fame was for millionaires, and so forth. Glen, friend, I have some Intel for you: nobody cares what you have to say.

Black Sabbath also courted controversy, but then that is par for the course for a group that counts the barely coherent Ozzy Osbourne in its ranks. Sabbath didn't perform, but Metallica gave a perfunctory rendition of "Iron Man" to mark the occasion. Ozzy speculated some nonsense to the press about why Sabbath hadn't been inducted earlier, as they have certainly been eligible for some time. That sentiment was echoed by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich (put him near a microphone and watch the results - seriously, this man is a menace), who questioned the Hall of Fame's motives behind continually overlooking Sabbath.

Well, Lars, here's my theory: As with the Pistols, the band's credibility has been seriously diluted over the years, thanks mainly to Ozzy's increasingly abominable solo career and buffoonish media appearances (including that god-awful TV show). It is hard to find respect for a rock icon when they are seen wandering around a mansion in tracksuit bottoms, picking up dog shit.

Kid Rock put in an appearance playing a by-the-numbers rendition of yokel anthem "Sweet Home Alabama" with what is left of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The high-profile kid known as Rock made room for the performance in his busy schedule, which consists of days trying to fight the release of a sex tape featuring him and former Creed throatman Scott Stapp. No, the tape does not document acts between the two, so you can get your mind out of the gutter. It was much less risqué - just sex with groupies. If I were Kid Rock, I'd be more embarrassed to be seen on video hanging out with Scott Stapp than with the sex. Never mind all that groupie business - that's part of the repertoire anyway.

The biggest controversy surrounded Blondie. Not that the often-overlooked Blondie managed to actually be inducted in the first place, but a thing developed between former and current band members. It is a complicated affair, but here is the gist of it: Blondie split up in 1982, with each member going their separate ways (sob). Singer Deborah Harry had a moderately successful solo career and stared in films like Hairspray and Videodrome. Guitarist Chris Stein got sick, recovered, worked with Iggy Pop, the Gun Club and Harry's solo career, while drummer Clem Burke became a session drummer par excellence, doing work with the Eurythmics, Nancy Sinatra and even a stint as a Ramone. Keyboard player Jimmy Destri released a solo album. Bassist Nigel Harrison and rhythm guitarist Frank Infante basically disappeared. Well, not quite - Infante appears in the video to Fergal Sharkey's "A Good Heart," absolving him of total invisibility.

Fast-forward to the late 90's and Stein goes about putting the band back together, featuring himself, Harry, Destri and Burke. Harrison is invited, but it doesn't work out. Infante is not invited at all. Blondie Mark 2, with new additions on guitar, Paul Carbonara (I wonder if he knows he is named after a pasta dish), and on bass, Leigh Foxx (who used to play with Iggy). Also not welcomed back into the fold is original bass player Gary Valentine, who played on Blondie's debut album. He's not a major player in all of this, but I thought I would throw that in there just to confuse matters further, properly muddying up the picture.

Looking down the long nose of a big time snubbing, Infante and Harrison launched a major lawsuit against their former band-mates, claiming they had been cheated out of royalties. Exactly what they thought they were entitled to is unknown, what with neither member exactly contributing very much to the Blondie legend (although Harrison does check his hair in the disco ball in the video to "Heart Of Glass," so I suppose some money aught to be thrown his way). After the lawsuit is filed mass bitterness ensues, and everybody hates each other. Meanwhile, Blondie Mark 2 achieves a modicum of success, particularly in the UK, with their new material topping the charts behind the strength of "Maria" and some sporadic touring.

Fast-forward again to 2006 and to the induction ceremony for the [der-der-der-derrrrr] Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. As per the rules, every member of Blondie is inducted, so this means Harry, Stein, Burke, Destri, Valentine, Harrison and Infante all climb on a stage together where they making pleasantries, pretending to be convivial. The arrangement is that while each of the members is being inducted and is welcome to a speech of acceptance, the current Blondie line-up is the one that will perform. That deal does not sit well with Infante.

"Debbie, are we allowed to play with you?" Infante moaned, like a child who had been told that he couldn't play with his toys or eat another pack of Skittles. You wonder if he was sincere - if Infante did actually want to play with the band - or if he just wanted to get his name out there and have a dig at Harry. Thankfully, Harry responded with an icy "Can't you see my real band is up there?" - a quip which quickly cut Infante down to size, though not before he could come back with the astute "But Debbie, I thought Blondie was being inducted". Ouch!

What Infante firstly fails to realize is that without Harry, there would be no Blondie. As important as the other members were (and I am referring here to Stein, Burke and Destri as well, not just Harrison and Infante), Blondie just doesn't work without Debbie Harry. Infante's comment was misleading, and the fuss has prompted an angry response from Stein on Blondie's official website, where he rails against idiotic fans who have e-mailed him insisting that Infante and Harrison should have been allowed to perform with the band at the induction ceremony. The appropriate response to those emails would be, Ummm... why?

No matter their reasons for demanding he be included, the supporters of Frank Infante fail to recognize that he is a bit of an ass. Amid a flurry of controversy surrounding delayed acceptances, refused appearances and amateur porn star accompaniment, Infante's gloryhounding and cashgrabbing stand out as the most pathetic memory from the 2006 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies.

SEE ALSO: www.rockhall.com

--
Ryan Thomas
A contributing writer from Washington state, Ryan Thomas recently relocated to the UK, where he continues to contribute to LAS.

See other articles by Ryan Thomas.

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