It’s been three years since the Memphis Music Hall of Fame last inducted a new class of honorees. But after a long pandemic hiatus, the event will return on September 15, with the Hall entering eight more music legends, just in time to mark the organization’s 10th anniversary.
This year, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony will once again take place at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts downtown. And no one is happier to have the festivities in person than John Doyle, the Hall’s President and CEO.
After COVID-19 threw the Hall’s 2020 plans into chaos, Doyle had hoped to resume with a new class and ceremonies in 2021.
“Around March 2021, we started looking at a live ceremony, and we started talking about dates, but then another [COVID] spike happened, and we weren’t sure we would,” Doyle says. “Instead, we have decided to suspend the ceremony live, but have decided to develop and produce an hour-long broadcast, a retrospective on the history of the Hall of Fame and the great musicians who are there. represented.”
The resulting television special, titled “Memphis Music Hall of Fame 10th Anniversary Celebration,” has aired three times on Circle — a cable network specializing in music and lifestyle programming — since March and is still on. also available on request.
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“We were really happy with the program and the way it went,” Doyle says, “and we felt like it really raised the room and the national awareness about it.”
As part of the Hall’s 10th anniversary and to celebrate the Class of 2022, Doyle is working hard to make the upcoming live festivities special.
Those who have attended the Hall’s previous ceremonies can attest, the event is a consistently moving and joyous celebration of the music and musicians of Memphis. As in previous years, most of the living honorees are expected, joined by fellow inductees and other celebrated music makers from Memphis and beyond. (The Rolling Stones’ Justin Timberlake, John Prine, Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Fallon and Keith Richards are among those who have appeared on past shows.)
This year’s ceremonies will feature a mix of local big names and international icons. Doyle has already confirmed that Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant will be in attendance, as well as Stax legend Booker T. Jones, who is inducted for the second time and is also expected to perform. Doyle also hopes there will be some big “last minute surprises”.
Here are five things to know about the Memphis Music Hall of Fame ceremony.
Memphis Music Hall of Fame
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame – operated by the Smithsonian-branded Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – was launched in 2012, to honor music greats from or associated with Memphis and the Mid-South.
After enshrining 25 members in its first year, the Hall has typically inducted between six and eight new members each year. With this year’s class, the Hall will reach 90 members, with a roll call featuring local and international music icons, from BB King to Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake.
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More than just big-name artists, the Hall has also sought to honor influential songwriters, session musicians, producers and label heads. Beyond rock, pop and R&B, the Hall has focused its efforts on recognizing Memphis pioneers in jazz, gospel, classical and opera.
This year’s eight-member class represents a cross section of artists of all genres and generations:
Fred Ford (1939-1999). A clarinetist in Douglass High School’s “Swingsters Orchestra”, Ford – nicknamed “Sweet Daddy Goodlow” – rose to fame as a baritone saxophonist, playing in clubs across the country; supporting artists such as Charlie Rich and Rufus Thomas during recording sessions at Sun and Stax; producing albums in the 1970s for Phineas Newborn and Cybill Shepherd; and finding renewed popularity in a trio with “Honeymoon” Garner and Bill Tyus in the 1980s. Ford also reportedly provided the dog noises heard on Big Mama Thornton’s original 1952 recording of “Hound Dog.”
Jim Gaines: This Memphis native learned his trade in local recording studios before moving to San Francisco and becoming one of the most successful studio wizards in the industry, working as a sound engineer and producer on albums as famous as “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band. “St. Dominic’s Preview” by Van Morrison, “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood, “Sports” by Huey Lewis and “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 2000, he was among the producers who shared Grammy Album of the Year for Santana’s “Supernatural,” which sold 30 million copies.
Booker T. Jones: Previously inducted in 2012 as a member of Stax instrumental combo Booker T. & the MG’s, this Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner will be recognized for his work as a solo artist, session musician, songwriter and album producer. classics, including that of Willie Nelson. “Stardust” and Bill Withers’ debut, “Just As I Am”.
Ronnie Milsap: Moving to Memphis in the late 1960s, North Carolina-born Milsap played on Elvis’ “Kentucky Rain” and other hits recorded here at Chips Moman’s American sound studio before moving to Nashville. and become a top country artist.
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Priscilla Presley: Priscilla Beaulieu moved to Memphis in 1963 and attended Immaculate Conception High School before marrying the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1966. In 1979 she was named Graceland’s executor and worked to ensure that the her late husband’s legacy would continue to be significant, and that Elvis’ popularity would continue: Opened to the public in 1982, the Graceland mansion remains America’s second most visited residence (after the White House).
Billy Lee Riley (1933–2009): Although he never achieved the household name status of Sun Records colleagues such as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, Riley remains revered by rockabilly enthusiasts for outbursts of mayhem music as unbridled as “Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll” and “Red Hot”.
Mavis Staples: After the Chicago-based Staple Singers presented their songs of hope and freedom at Stax in Memphis, they hit the top 40 on the charts eight times in the 1970s, with anthems such as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There”. Mavis established herself as a star in the musical family led by her father, “Pop” Staples, and remained a solo star in the decades that followed. Her resume is enviable: she has walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recorded with Bob Dylan and Prince.
J. M. Van Eaton: The Memphis-born rock-and-roll drummer and record producer was a founding architect of the Sun’s liberating sound, serving as Sam Phillips’ in-house drummer on “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and other vintage records of these artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Billy Lee Riley, inducted in 2022.
Party at the Cannon Center
Each year, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame holds a music ceremony at the Cannon Center. This year, Kurt Clayton will lead a house band made up of big names in Memphis music.
Of the six living inductees, five are expected to attend, with Jim Gaines, Booker T. Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Priscilla Presley and JM Van Eaton all confirmed to attend. Unfortunately, Mavis Staples will not be able to be there, as she will be on tour.
Booker T. Jones and JM Van Eaton will perform as part of their own musical tributes. Bernard Allison, son of blues great Luther Allison, will pay tribute to his father’s longtime collaborator, Jim Gaines. Grammy-winning Memphis saxophonist Kirk Whalum will perform in honor of Fred Ford, and Robert Plant will be in attendance and will help induct Priscilla Presley. The stars’ tributes to Mavis Staples, Billy Lee Riley and Ronnie Milsap are also expected to be among the highlights of the evening.
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VIP and front row tickets for the ceremony are already sold out. However, good orchestra seats and parterre seats at the $30 level are still available. To purchase, go to Ticketmaster.com.
Beyond the Ceremony
Exhibits relating to this year’s honorees and past inductees can be found at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Museum, located next to the Hard Rock Cafe at the corner of Second and Beale. The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is also a short distance southeast, in the plaza outside FedExForum.
For the full list of inductees and more tour information, go to Memphismusichalloffame.com.