The 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner tonight at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City will include a spicy side dish of disrespect. For one thing, the inductees are led by acts that had been passed over by Hall voters in previous years -- Lynyrd Skynrd has seen its bid fall short seven times, while Black Sabbath has stewed for eight years waiting for ballot respect.
Even if they are grumpy, at least those acts are expected to show up -- that's not the case with the most intriguing of the new inductees, the Sex Pistols, who announced in typically delicate terms that they will not be attending.
"Next to the SEX PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain," was the first line of a statement posted by the band on its official website a few weeks ago. The reason given: The Hall uses the annual gala as its primary fundraising engine, so the institution is a little stingy with its $2,500 seats, and the Pistols balked at the policy of receiving only two free tickets per band member.
Maybe it's better this way. Blondie is also getting inducted, and that band's guitarist, Chris Stein, said the prospect of seeing the Pistols address a room full of formalwear was a bit off-putting.
"I don't know why anybody ever thought they would come," Stein said. "It should be amusing to see how it's handled at the show."
It should also be interesting to hear Ozzy Osbourne's comments -- the rocker and his wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, have railed against the Hall for years for its upturned nose when it came to enshrining Sabbath, the band that made Ozzy famous.
That the Pistols are boycotting would seem to put extra pressure on Osbourne and his mates to flash some sort of anti-establishment snarl during their stage time. (And Sabbath will have some help making its message loud; Metallica will induct the graybeard metal heroes and play some slabs of their music.)
There's even more grumbling: Jazz icon Miles Davis -- a rock star in temperament, certainly -- died in 1991, but (surprise, surprise) there have been complaints from his family that only two tickets were sent to the estate.
Not everybody is arriving at the dinner with chips on their shoulders.
Stein said Blondie, the quintessentially New York band that ignored genre rules with high style, is happy to be in the room -- and even a bit surprised.
"Contrary to popular belief, we didn't have any mainstream success," he said. "I always considered us just a very successful cult band. We're going to go and play our music and have a good time."
An edited version of the 21st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction will be broadcast on VH1 at 9 p.m. March 21.
-- Geoff Boucher