That's not just a saying, in this case it was quite literally true. Rush, the Seminal Rock Band from Canada, was being Officially Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For Rush Fans, this has been the Holy Grail, the One True Ring of Legitimacy to Rule them All, for the 14 1/2 years since the band originally became eligible for the hall.
I was mad when the Hall dragged their feet on inducting Black Sabbath. I'm still pissed they haven't inducted Deep Purple yet. And that's nothing compared to how pissed off people like Eddie Trunk have been.
But now at least finally they pulled their head out of the rectum and have included Rush.
And we were there to see it in person, but it's not like it came easily.
We had a big day planned, and we didn't even have tickets to the show (because they were running at $150 ea, not in our tax bracket), although we had a positive attitude. Tons of our Rush friends were coming out and maybe, maybe, one of them might have a spare or maybe we might be able to work something out for face-value or trade.
"I expect the worst, but hope for the best" said my wife Robin - whose been a longtime Rush fan going all the way back to the 70's. Contrary to the regular Rush Fan stereotype where the guy has to drag his girlfriend to the concert while she sits there annoyed and arms folded, I am actually the one who was slow to climb up onto the Rush Rolling Rock Jamboree. I actually went to my first Rush concert during the "Hold Your Fire" tour when the guitarist I was working with back then talked me into it. He eventually became the best man in my wedding 20 years ago.
Maybe there's a hint in there somewhere. Once you've been roped into Rush, you never get untied.
At the time I remember it being the best sounding show I'd even been too, but that the band - at the time - lacked stage presence because bassist Geddy Lee spent most of the show hidden behind a rack of keyboards. Neil Peart was obviously behind his drum kit during the entire show, so the only person moving was guitarist Alex Lifeson, and because of the type and tempo of the songs they were doing at the time he spent most of the show doing a modified guitar version of the Molly Ringwald 80's White-Girl Dance (think "The Breakfast Club') during most of the show. What offset that lack of visuals was the Light Show from Heaven (tm) and the video presentation which was spectacular. At the time the only thing I'd seen that even scratched the edge of a Laser/Video show like that was probably Pink Floyd, or maybe Journey. I didn't have a copy of the latest album and really only knew the band then from a few of their hit singles and MTV videos like "Tom Sawyer", "Subdivisions" and "Time Stand Still". There were a lot of songs I didn't know and couldn't relate too, but I could tell the crowd was deeply into it.
So now it's 20 years later and I'm a full fledged fan. From "Roll the Bones" forward through "Test for Echo", "Counterparts" and now "Clockwork Angels" they've simply seem to have been getting better and better with each new release. Not bad for a bunch of guys who've been at this for 39 years. Even the old dogs can learn lots of new tricks.
And now they were finally getting their due. Two Days previously we'd joined tons of our Rush Buddies at the Arclight Theater where a special showing of "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage" was being screen right after a Q&A Session with Alex and Geddy hosted by Radio DJ Jim Ladd. That was a blast and as usual, Alex was hysterically funny.
The Rush Rats with Jim Ladd.
Alex and Geddy before the Film
Now it was the big day, and we had a huge agenda planned even if we didn't get into the show itself. First we visited the Rush Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and their display at the Rock Walk on Sunset. We'd never seen their Rock Walk display, which was impressive - but we were actually there for the Hollywood Star Ceremony three years ago. We spent the night camping out - Occupy-Style - on Hollywood Blvd the day before and had a chance to talk directly with both Alex & Geddy as they greeted fans after the ceremony. Robin had met Geddy and Neil years earlier when she was attending Musician's Institute and they were doing a seminar at the school. She'd offered then to let Geddy borrow her bass, which is a white Rickenbacker 4001 just like Geddy's own. This time she mentioned the previous conversation and apologized for a lame joke she'd told then, Geddy graciously said it was "all right", and was very sweet.
Other Rush Fans at the Hollywood Star
After this we had a little time to kill and had some lunch then headed downtown to meet up with some other fans at Casey's Bar and Grill. I sometimes work downtown as was able to find a nearby garage to park a few blocks away. We hung out there for about an hour and met a lovely set of fellow Rush fans.
Casey's was too dark for decent photos, but I tried - once.
We had planned to try and catch up with another set at a different restaurant called Trader Vic's, which was apparently where the "Mai Tai" had been invented. Robin was looking forward to getting there and having one, plus they had a Happy Hour Menu that was tasty. She guided me toward 800 Olympic Blvd, I looked out the window and saw it - "I see it" I said, but she didn't,thinking I meant "I see the addres" and she argued that's she'd looked it up online and it was inside the Beverly HIlton.
Well, ok, there could be more than one of course, but this puzzled me because even though I've never been inside the Beverly Hilton, I know where it is, halfway across town at the corner where Santa Monica Blvd and Wilshire cross each other. But she was sure, and I've learned to trust her judgement because that's what she read on the website, so I kept going down Olympic headed for the heart of Beverly Hills. But just to be certain I gave her my android phone so she could try to bring up the Trader Vic's website and check..
Unfortunately that site wasn't really configured for an Android and their "Locations" page wouldn't fully load. It would only display a map of the U.S. with nothing on it. (A Google Search showed multiple locations, including the Beverly Hilton, so that wasn't helpful), Then we tried sending a text to our friend Kelly who was one of people we were trying to catch up with at Trader Vic's. After another ten minutes we arrived at the HIlton and Kelly hadn't responded so I pulled the car over and called her, at which point she confirmed that we were at the wrong Trader Vic's and we needed to head back downtown where they were, which was also right next to the Nokia Center where tonight's award ceremony was happening.
We'd be hanging with our friends already if not for their messed up website. So we turned around and headed back, but while it had only taken about 20 minutes to head west - the traffic going back eastward on either Olympic, WIlshire or Pico was a complete mess. It was so packed it was taking 5 minutes to get through each block. Robin was started to meltdown a bit because we were going to miss everyone. I tried to stay hopeful and texted Kelly to order Robin a Mai Tai before Happy Hour was over, but it was well after 6:30 by the time we finally got back and everyone had left the restaurant 15 mins previously.
I let Robin out and went on the hunt for parking, which near the theater was about $20 - I manage to fine a lot five blocks away for just $7. When I finally found her she was sitting and crying. Everyone was gone. I hadn't been that focused on attending the show, we didn't have the money for it, but Robin had really been Hoping we'd get lucky - and now she was losing all that Hope.
"I can't get this back, it's only going to happen once..." she said.
But I hadn't given up yet. There were more than a few people in Nokia Plaza who had tickets for sale, but we couldn't meet their prices - I was pretty honest with them. If they absolutely couldn't find anyone to meet their price and they were ready to give up, we were willing to work out a deal. Maybe we could offer 50% and pay them back later... whatever.
The plaza was starting to clear, and the odds were starting to look pretty unlikely. I tried not to worry about it and while waiting manage to spot for Cleveland DJ Donna Halper who had been the first American to play Rush's first single "Working Man" way back in 1974. She'd pushed hard for Rush to have this honor and now, today, it was finally happening.
Eventually though a nice girl with a Cardinal USC Hoodie came over and gave us a pair of tickets after we'd talked to her friend for awhile. I gave her my card with my email and said we'd send her a paypal payment in increments of $50 if we had to until we paid her back. That would hurt, but I'd do it.
So far (as I write this one week later) she hasn't contact us, but if she does - the offer stands.
"You have a lot more faith in people, than I do" Robin told me as she dried her eyes. I'm not sure that's true, I'm just stubborn and refuse to quit. I honestly wasn't expecting to get in to the show, but we DID - which is pretty awesome.
Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone was onstage as we came in, and was just getting to the point where he was announcing Rush's presence. The crowd was going crazy, having just walked in we didn't realize what we were hearing were all the Rush Fans reacting to what Wenner had just said. Thinking we'd missed a lot I asked an usher - "Has Rush been presented yet?".
"They're the last group for the evening" she said.
Headliners. Heh, that's respect.
I have to admit for this particular year, it was a good group of inductees. Donna Summer, who was inducted by Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child. (She's hilarious, and very sweet). Randy Newman who was inducted by Don Henley of the Eagles, during which he complained about being stuck in traffic on his way to the Theater.
"Never Go Olympic". No Shit, brother. Turns out he had been trapped in the same traffic jam that we were.
Seeing Tom Petty and John Fogerty join Newman onstage for "I Love L.A." was something, but I do have to say that Fogerty should have left Lukather's solo on that song alone. I've met Luke, Robin used to work for Toto - she took drum lessons from Joe Pocaro, John'Fogert is great but he is no Luke. Sorry pal.
I'd never seen Heart before live, but having them inducted by Chris Cornell was perfectly appropriate. Performing Barracuda with their original guitarist Roger Fisher was very special. I was a big Heart fan from the 70's and the 80's. They along with Pat Benatar broke so much ground in Rock for women it can't be fully appreciated.
I never thought in my life that I'd been in the same room as Oprah WInfrey at the same time. Now I have been as she stood onstage to induct Quincy Jones, who selected her for a role in "the Color Purple" and redirected the trajectory of her career from being a local newscaster to superstar media mogul.
Producer Lou Adler was inducted, who had worked with Carol King and the Mommas and the Poppas and joked that he was better known now as the guy with the beard and the hat sitting next to Jack Nicholson at Laker Games.
Spike Lee handled the induction for Public Enemy, which was just EPIC. Besides Flavor Flav still being a walking, talking, babbling, lovable, train wreck of a human being - Chuck D put a lot in perspective in terms of the commonality between blues, jazz, rock and hip hop.
Then finally Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins did the presentation for Rush, and it was truly heartfelt and grand. Words fail to do this justice. Since they had previously done the induction for Queen, they were more than prepared for this, but even they were nearly overwhelmed.
They did so well with this I may consider forgiving them for taking the rightful place that belonged to EXTREME for the Queen induction. NO BAND, no one, embodied the groove, courage, depth and range that was blazed through Rock Music the way Queen except for Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone of Extreme. No one.
Maybe. Someday. (Ok, probably not)
Anyhoo, after their introduction all three members of Rush made a rare joint speaking appearance - Neil is far too shy to deal with public appearances normally - but this time he was there. And this time - he spoke first and most elequently.
"We said for years this wasn't a big deal. I kinda IS!". (As the crowd roared.) Geddy followed him with an equally heartfelt speech, and then - Mr. Alex Lifeson Esquire proceeded to make the most amazing, incredible, award acceptance speech EVER in the history and the future of acceptance speeches. No one has come close to this, and NO ONE EVER WILL. Proving for all time, it's not what you say - it's how you say it.
Again, no words suffice.
And so it is done. Rush has joined the Hallowed and Honored Ground of Rock Superstars. It's was pretty cool to se Dave, Taylor and Nick playing Jr. Rush doing 2112. I was really worried that Dave could clam up the solo, but he didn't. Good on ya, that would've been embarassing. i really didn't want him to Fogerty It.
And after the show, we finally DID catch up with Kelly, Chris and our other friends.
A wild night, a crazy night, a Good Night. We won't get another of those again.