Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp Induct Industry Legends
Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp took the stage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to welcome record executive Jimmy Iovine and entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman.
Springsteen spoke after participating in a pre-recorded video honoring Iovine, who started his career as a recording engineer, working with such acclaimed artists as John Lennon, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and U2. He also engineered two of Springsteen's albums, Born to Run (1975) and Darkness of the Edge of Town (1978).
Iovine went go on to found Interscope Records in 1990. The upstart label quickly earned a reputation for taking risks on new artists and helping them ascend to mainstream popularity. Tupac Shakur, Primus, No Doubt and Nine Inch Nails were among their early successes.
Iovine earlier convinced Springsteen to give Patti Smith an unfinished demo. "Sure, why not?" Springsteen remembered answering. "With Jimmy's guidance, Patti Smith turned 'Here Comes the Night' into a huge Top 5 record – something I could never have done, because I didn't have the guts to turn it into a love song like Jimmy did." Springsteen praised Iovine's subsequent entrepreneurial partnership with Dr. Dre, before closing with a quip about his first signing on Interscope – the one-hit wonder Geraldo, of early '90s-era "Rico Suave" fame.
Like Iovine, Grubman was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame via the Ahmet Ertegun Award, an honor bestowed on non-performing music industry professionals who “have had a major influence on the creative development and growth of rock and roll and music that has impacted youth culture.”
For more than 50 years, Grubman has served as an entertainment lawyer to some of the biggest names in music, including Springsteen, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and the man who inducted him, Mellencamp.
Grubman is the first lawyer to be inducted into the hall, but his inclusion did not come without controversy. Among those who were vocally opposed was Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, who co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Grubman and other industry executives in 1983. He got in, anyway.
Mellencamp's speech included a signature memory in which Grubman compared the music industry to a "great big motherfucking tree" that remains "massive and unbending. On this tree are a bunch of apples. A few stay firmly attached, but most of the apples, I'm sorry to say, they shrivel up and drop to the ground ... sadly forgotten."
Mellencamp said Grubman made sure he was one of those that remained attached, as his emotional comments eventually drew tears from his old friend. Mellencamp then made a deeply impassioned stand against the shocking resurgence of antisemitism.
Springsteen then returned to close out the night with a thunderous tribute to the late Jerry Lee Lewis, performing "High School Hop" and "Great Balls of Fire" with Mellencamp.