Hounding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Cheap Trick

By Valeri DeCastris

Rock musician Steve Miller and I apparently share a disdain for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – at least I did until Friday that is, when it finally inducted Cheap Trick into its prestigious group, an honor way overdue for our hometown heroes.

In my eyes, the Hall of Fame organization redeemed itself, at least momentarily, by recognizing Cheap Trick, which has been eligible for the award since 2003. Miller famously trashed the Hall of Fame process and organizers before and during the April 8, 2016 induction ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, where Cheap Trick got its well-deserved due.

I had been annoyed and perplexed for some time as to why Cheap Trick was passed over for this award year after year. Before the laudable and successful efforts of Rockford’s Brian Jenkins Leggero, whose petition drive to compel the organization to induct the band finally “did the trick”, I had been hounding the organization with the same intent.

Back in 2007, after inquiring about the Hall of Fame process and quietly lobbying the organization for years on behalf of Cheap Trick, I was granted an interview with two pivotal people in the induction process. I spoke with Tristin Aaron of Sunshine, Sachs and Associates, a Hall of Fame publicist, and Joel Peresman, President and CEO of the non-profit Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

The New York-based foundation administers the Cleveland, Ohio Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. The museum was built for $92 million in a private/public partnership and opened in September of 1995. The foundation is comprised of invited writers, critics and industry executives appointed by the head of the Hall of Fame nominating committee.

Thirty nominators meet annually in the fall to consider a variety of people for induction into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A list is made, voted upon a few times, culled down and voted upon again. Then the list goes to 600-700 board voting members by mail and five to six choices are made.

Read our interview with Cheap Trick founder Rick Nielsen

Peresman acknowledged that the process was decidedly subjective but “not a closed book” if a band doesn’t at first receive the award. The pricey induction ceremony tickets serve as a fundraiser for the foundation. When I pressed Ms. Aaron about why Cheap Trick hadn’t been inducted, I received much push-back and obfuscation.

Mr. Peresman similarly seemed defensive about the issue. So maybe Steve Miller is on to something.

But for now, the “Kids Are Alright!” So, congratulations to all of the members of Cheap Trick throughout the years! You shone a spotlight on your hometown and for that, we can all be proud.

And, thank you to Brian and the petitioners. Nothing ever came easy for Cheap Trick or Rockford, but now they are immortalized forever.

Let’s celebrate Cheap Trick’s legacy and maybe have a community-wide viewing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony HBO broadcast on April 30. A trip to the Cleveland Museum to view the Cheap Trick display would be fun and appropriate.

Many kudos to John Groh and the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Mayor Morrissey and the City of Rockford for recognizing the significance of Cheap Trick’s award by launching its new commemorative marketing campaign.

Let’s all step up to the plate and support their efforts and upcoming events as they proudly proclaim to the world that Cheap Trick and Rockford are alive and well and poised for even more greatness. Way to go Tricksters!

Valeri DeCastris is a proud Rockford native with long-time ties to Cheap Trick who first heard the band in DeKalb in 1973 – no cover charge!

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