The Joint Jumps Again as Rock 'n' Roll's Hall of Fame Pays Homage to 15 Pioneers

updated 02/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

The cuisine was classic truck stop: meatloaf (with ketchup), lumpy mashed potatoes, Oreo cookies straight from the carton. But if the menu seemed inappropriate to the Grand Ballroom of New York's Waldorf-Astoria, the black-tie crowd ate bravely. This was the annual dinner of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and the musicians recognized the meat and potatoes as their staple on-the-road diet—the kind of troubador fare that the human can stomach only for a one night stand.

The 15 greats installed in Rock's pantheon this year included the first woman (Aretha Franklin), a group (the Coasters) plus Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Smokey Robinson. Family or friends accepted posthumous awards for Eddie Cochran, Marvin Gaye, Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter, Ricky Nelson, Joe Turner, Jackie Wilson and Muddy Waters.

No presenter was more eloquent than Bruce Springsteen, resplendent in a shimmering beige silk suit. He seemed so distracted by the parade of his idols that he barely spoke to Julianne Phillips, his bride of nearly two years. He recalled lying in bed years ago listening to the music of Roy Orbison: "His arrangements were complex and operatic, but they had rhythm, movement, and they addressed the underside of pop romance. They were scary." Without doubt Springsteen and the 1,200 rock devotees, who stood and cheered, would agree with Sting's declaration: "The thrill is not gone."

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