2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, when the gloves came off for Blondie and the Sex Pistols
On this day in 2006, Blondie and the Sex Pistols showed that old habits die hard and while one was caught up in inter-band fighting, the other refused to grace the event with their presence. We’ll give you one guess at to who is who.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is usually a pretty drab affair. Not in keeping with the ethos of rock, the whole event is a very ‘industry’-led event. The 2006 event saw two notable members of the Punk monarchy live up to their names and cause a lot of controversies. Step up to the plate Blondie and the Sex Pistols, tell them how you really feel.
The 2006 class of inductees saw a huge array of talent invited to the swanky event. Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Miles Davis, Blondie and the Sex Pistols were all given the \accolade of becoming a part of the hall fo fame. It’s a dubious honour, to say the least, but while some bands and artists are very happy to receive their award, others make a big show of being a no-show. Enter, the Sex Pistols.
Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, had been a vocal dissenter of the event when two years previous his band Sabbath missed out on an induction. He said: “Just take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite for the industry and the media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is irrelevant to me. Let’s face it, Black Sabbath has never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band and that suits us just fine.” His tune had been notably changed when in 2006 Sabbath were given the nod. But hey, some people are only ever a little punk.
That’s not something you could say for the Sex Pistols. The band refused to attend the event and did so with a quite perfectly written letter, which despite the grammatical issues and deliberate misspellings, was read aloud in 2006 to the audience.
It reads: “Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkeys, and so what. Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table of $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery goes to a non profit organization selling us a load of any old famous. Congradulations. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges but your still industry people. We’re not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shitstem is a real Sex Pistol.”
No matter how delightfully anti-establishment the business suits in the audience may have found the letter read out by RNRHOF President Jann Wenner, it would not be the most disruptive moment of the evening. That accolade would go to the various members of Blondie.
The band, who were at the time Clem Burke, Chris Stein and Debbie Harry, took to the stage to collect their award from Garbage’s Shirley Manson. So far so good. The RNRHOF also invited the band’s previous members bassist Nigel Harrison, guitarist Frank Infante, bassist Gary Valentine and keyboardist Jimmy Destri. This is where it all went wrong.
Each ex-member of the band had an axe to grind on the Blondie whetstone and they were going to use a big stage to get their point across. Destri had only recently left the band following a variety of reasons, one of which was suspected to be his substance abuse. Meanwhile, Infante and Harrison had both been involved in ugly court cases with the rest of the band, claiming they were still owed money form their time with the new-wave rockers. What should’ve been a special moment for Blondie, turned into something truly embarrassing.
Infante led the cringing charge and seemed intent on casting Blondie as the villains of the piece. He said: “I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame for inviting us, and for not writing me, Gary and Nigel out of rock ‘n’ roll history,” he said. “This is like one of the greatest gigs you could do as a musician. … Actually, one thing that would make it better would be if we could actually perform for you tonight, but for some reason, some of us are not allowed to do that. I don’t know what we could do about that. I’d like to play.”
Perhaps not getting the love and appreciation from the crowd he’d expected he then turned and appealed to Debbie Harry directly, “We’d like to play with you guys – me and Nigel. Pretty please! Pretty please, Debbie!” Harry made her way to the podium and it got a little bit worse for everybody when she cut him off to say, “Can’t you see my band is up there?” Seeing his moment Infante said, “Oh, your band? I thought Blondie was being inducted tonight,” when Harry then started listing the current members of Blondie, Infante replied, “Are they being inducted? I don’t know!”
It appeared as though Harrison was about to jump in and save the day when he said: “It’s nice to see everyone out of the courtroom, that’s the first positive thing.” But it was not to be as he picked up where Infante left off saying: “I gotta say, after watching all that footage of us tonight, I felt I was going to my own funeral. It’s messed up for us. We wanna play; obviously, we were part of it. We’ve been led to believe we weren’t part of it. It sucks. Welcome to bingo night.”
It was possibly the most calamitous moment of the band’s career. A time which should’ve been a major highlight, a mark of recognition from your peers, instead became a permanent mark on their record. Chris Stein was rightfully angry at the press conference after the show, “The reason I’m holding onto this,” he said while having a firm grip on his RNRHOF trophy “is in case I run into any of those fuckers!”
You can watch the whole thing unfold below as the Sex Pistols and Blondie make the 2006 Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame induction one to remember.