With a small crowd of VIPs in front and an enthusiastic general public watching from balconies above, Bon Jovi thanked The Moody Blues “for being so kind to us when we met them for the first time tonight” and noted that, “Any kid who strums a broomstick dreams of making a record…all the kindness of the generations around this globe have allowed me and my guys…and anybody else who ever strummed a broomstick, the opportunity to touch heaven, and so now we join a very elite group as members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
Justin Hayward, speaking on behalf of The Moody Blues, which finished second to Bon Jovi in this year’s public vote, called the Rock Hall “kind of a temple to everything that we loved when we were children growing up and all the music we really loved.” He added that, “We knew that once they’d open the door for the first time to our fans to vote for us…it was like a steamroller. We were going to get in. So we’re thrilled about that…and we’re looking forward very much to tomorrow” -- referring to Saturday’s ceremony, where the two bands will be inducted along with The Cars, Dire Straits, the late Nina Simone and the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The ceremony will be filmed by HBO for broadcast May 5.
The inductee exhibits, housed on the museum’s third floor, feature a variety of artifacts from each act. Bon Jovi’s is the largest, and Rock Hall chief curator Karen Herman told Billboard that the group was indeed most generous. Various instruments, handwritten lyrics and articles of clothing are featured in the case, including Bon Jovi’s New Jersey trench coat and the gold lamé jackets the group wore on the cover of its 2004 box set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong.
The Moodys took a moment to eyeball their exhibit, which included instruments from Hayward, bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge. Hayward told Billboard that his acoustic guitar had been given to him in 1965 by British skiffle great Lonnie Donegan, and he used it to write hits such as “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon” and more. “When it got famous, Lonnie’s guitar player took it back,” Hayward recalled. “Fifty years later when Lonnie died he offered to sell it back to me, which I did, so it’s only recently come back in my possession, and there it is."
Other holy grail finds in the exhibit include a cape worn at performances by Nina Simone and donated by her daughter, and an array of paperwork related to Tharpe’s career. The Dire Straits portion of the exhibit features an accordion played by keyboardist Alan Clarke, while The Cars contributed instruments, stage clothing -- including drummer David Robinson’s black-and-white checkered Panorama sweater -- and even the martini shaker from the cover of the Shake It Up album. Robinson was also responsible for the Fender Precision bass played by the late Benjamin Orr, a Cleveland native.
“We got ahold of some relatives who were in New Jersey, and they sent a wonderful collection of stuff from his childhood and youth, but nothing music related,” said curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger. “When I finally got ahold of Robinson he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a bass of Ben’s I’ve been holding. Would you be interested in that?’ So the drummer came through.”
In addition to the exhibit, the Rock Hall has also started the march to 2019 -- and beyond -- with an interactive kiosk that allows visitors to choose which acts they think should be inducted in the future. Rock Hall officials plan to consult that as part of the process for determining the ballot, which is released during the early fall.