Pink Floyd - 1996 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction report

Ceremony report, January 1996: attended by BD's Elliot Tayman
Wish You Were Here


On Wednesday, January 17, 1996, The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City played host to the 11th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert. Congratulations to Pink Floyd who were inducted for their 30 years of influential music, amazing performances, vault-popping album sales and generous charity work. Other inductees included David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane, The Velvet Underground, Little Willie John, the Shirelles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and FM radio pioneer Tom Donahue. (And this may just be the first place where Pink Floyd were listed first!)

In nearly every mainstream media report on the event, Pink Floyd were, if at all, mentioned in passing - an afterthought. Quite expected in light of their dismissing attitude toward the media. An eye for an eye. Luckily, however, Brain Damage was provided a press pass to the event. At least one magazine was genuinely interested in covering the Pink Floyd portion of the evening!

Conveniently located in New York City, our U.S. Publicist Elliot Tayman attended on our behalf. With extensive instructions and words of encouragement, he was that night to be our representative, ace reporter, interviewer, photographer and all around “BD bad ass”. January 17th arrived and off he scurried into Manhattan with pass in hand (and a camera and notebook in the other).

According to the rules stated on the press invitation, “Media credentials allow access to the News Media Room only. Reporters/producers are invited to watch the show on monitors in the News Media Room where they will have access to the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and presenters, as they will be brought into the News Media Room directly following each induction ceremony for interview and photo opportunities.” With that in mind, Elliot secured a perfect position in the front row of the photographer's section and now only had to wait for the band to be brought back.

But, it wasn’t to matter much, except for, well, standing five feet from Madonna. But by that point Elliot had witnessed everything from a Stevie Wonder rehearsal to a Phil Lesh/Mickey Hart interview, so interest for other stars waned as his anticipation for Pink Floyd grew. But, it wouldn’t be until the last induction that Elliot would finally get what he went for.

The Shirelles were inducted and headed backstage. As they entered the News Media Room, Elliot glanced up at the monitors and instantly recognized the video - Arnold Layne! Other videos were displayed, including French Windows, clips from Live in Pompeii and brief bits from an unknown Dark Side concert. But while the video montage was being shown, the audio feed from the ballroom to the News Media Room was cut off to allow reporters the opportunity to question the Shirelles! Elliot motioned to the media director to raise the volume, but received only a shoulder shrug in response. Billy Corgan, the totally bald-headed lead singer/guitarist for The Smashing Pumpkins (a popular alternative band from Chicago, for those of you behind the times) took the stage as the presenter of Pink Floyd’s induction award. Frustrated without audio, Elliot quickly left the News Media Room and headed toward the third floor balcony.

Well-known was that third floor access was limited to the Associated Press and the like, and further required an additional pass only available to large media organizations. With his duty to the readers of this magazine in mind, he headed up the balcony stairs and hoped for the best. Fortunately, security realized his relevance in covering this particular induction and allowed him access. Instantly he headed to the front of the balcony. Corgan had already finished his speech and presented tux-dressed David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright with their award. (Note: Specified as inducted were David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright, and Syd Barrett.) Roger Waters did not attend because, according to an official statement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was "sick". Doubt that. And, for obvious reasons, Mr. Barrett was not in attendance either.

David Gilmour: "I'll have to grab a couple more of these [awards], as two band members have started playing different tunes... Roger and Syd, and we'll take a couple of these home for them. Thank you very much indeed."

Richard Wright: "You just said what I wanted to say. I wanted to say to Roger and Syd: it took you, Syd, because the whole band started with Syd, and I just wanted to say that I'm sitting here the whole night and I just realized the diversity of the music and everyone is different, everyone has a different approach to the music, but we all touch people I hope ... with our music. And that's all we want to do. Thank you very much."

Nick Mason: "It's a wonderful occasion... to see all these record executives in one place. As you're probably aware being up here, there's been an awful lot of hard work. We've managed to avoid doing a lot of it; we've had a lot of other very talented people to help us, and it might be worth mentioning some of them. I think the engineers we've worked with, Andy Jackson and James Guthrie, Alan Parsons; the producers Bob Ezrin, Chris Thomas and Joel Plante, who's here tonight. Stage designers Marc Brickman, Mark Fisher and Storm Thorgerson, the man who sent a shot to the record company, and also of course the record company. The first rule of rock and roll is if things go well, take the credit. If they don't, blame the record company. And [thanks] also Steve O'Rourke, our manager. The second rule is, if you can't get hold of the record company, blame the manager. So thank you to all of them, and this is a great honour. I think for us it means an awful lot, and I think it probably means that it's official that we never, ever have to be a support act, ever again."

Nick Mason left the stage and returned to his dinner table where Dave's and Rick's wives were seated (Nick was not accompanied by his wife). Rick sat at the keyboards while Dave and Billy Corgan each grabbed acoustic guitars. The threesome treated the audience to a beautiful version of Wish You Were Here in Unplugged fashion. That would be the only Pink Floyd song performed that night.

At the end of the song, Elliot flew back downstairs to the News Media Room where the three Floyds and Corgan were supposedly headed. When he got there he was informed that Pink Floyd were not available for questions or photos. Disappointing, but not surprising. Rick made like Nick and returned to the table while David remained on stage to perform "Goodnight Irene" along with this year's other inductees and some presenters. This "Final Jam" closed out the evening and brought to an end the 1996 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

After the event, Elliot spoke briefly with Nick Mason (with whom he has spoken numerous times prior), but was unable to catch Dave and Rick, who were by this time already outside the hotel. Nick had no idea the status of his book as "problems" have caused its further delay. Furthermore, rumors of an upcoming tour have again been slagged off as “speculative”

Proper protocol and tact prohibited Elliot from asking some questions that had inevitably popped to mind as a result of the evening's events. Why didn’t Nick perform Wish You Were Here with the others? And while Dave, Rick and their wives were together, Nick was left to walk alone. Was that by choice or is this new rift in the band as serious as it would seem? Have the "problems" with his book gone so far as to require legal action? In light of recent speculation on Publius and the enigma, is Nick’s alleged involvement resulting in a division? Or could it simply be that Nick was not very interested in attending this ceremony in the first place? Let’s hope it’s only that.

[Brain Damage would like to thank Nick Mason, who has on many ocassions given his time in allowing BD reps to speak with him, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for inviting us to this event and Elliot Tayman for his fine job in attending. Thank you also to the huge number of readers who participated in our campaign to have Pink Floyd inducted... whether or not it actually helped remains to be seen.]