Donovan Philips Leitch—a true artist to
For musicians, it may very well prove
impossible to watch an award show
without imagining how you would comport
yourself if you were on the receiving or
presenting end of an award. If I don’t count
rewarding myself with a beer after I’ve
mowed the lawn or merely survived another
day all the way to 5 p.m., I haven’t received
a legitimate award since Cub Scouts—probably
because I haven’t done anything award-worthy
since I whittled that awesome pinewood
derby car. Having now established
that I don’t frequent the podium, I am the
armchair quarterback quick to point out
the failings of those under pressure.
This week I watched the HBO airing
of the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Induction, which featured a mix of rockers
young and old. By “young,” I don’t mean
young. None of these guys attended high
school during this century. The older and
younger acts made for an interesting contrast.
Many of the guys in their 40s did not
look much better than the guys in their
60s. Ron Wood looks like, well, Ron
Wood—kind of an ageless, prototypical
British rocker. The Chili Peppers don’t seem
to change a lot—still rocking the shirtless
thing without need for embarrassment. The
Bill Haley and the Comets guys appeared
ancient, but they weren’t exactly young
looking when “Rock Around the Clock”
was a fresh hit single.
Taste in clothing ranged from fabulous
to douche-baggy to perhaps homeless with
an equal number of offenders and impressers
in all age brackets. One geriatric rocker
wore a none-too-clean white sweat suit. A
few guys wore what was probably wardrobe
left over from their 1988 video debut.
Those wearing a good suit will never look
back in horror.
The biggest difference between the
two groups remained how inarticulate
the younger acts seemed compared to the
older ones. Donovan—a true artist to the
core—composed a poem that summarized
his entire career, while expressing his gratitude
to friends and fans. Now compare
Donovan’s speech to any ’80s act in the
show and you can actually hear the decline
of Western Civilization.
Induction into a hall of fame suggests
that the inductee is nearing his final act.
For many musicians, this will be the video
clip the media will play on a loop the day
following their deaths. Does anyone want
to be remembered as the glassy-eyed, slack-jawed
person wearing ill-fitting, tragically
unhip clothing while hoarsely mumbling
Dearest Premier Guitar reader, please
consider these few simple acceptance speech
suggestions before you receive your justly
1. Let’s watch our language, shall we? I’m
a longtime cusser, the son of a world-class,
ex-Marine, Segovia of profanities. Foul
language does not offend me, but poor
writing or public speaking does. Most of
these younger acts could not convey the
simplest thought without punctuating their
incomplete sentences with ample profanity.
Obscenity, like anything, loses all its punch
when overused. It’s the verbal equivalent of
multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Put
in musical terms, it’s like that annoying
wanker at a jam who keeps using the same
damn riff five or six times in a four-measure
phrase. Before receiving an award, go ahead
and learn a few adjectives and adverbs to
help you express yourself.
With the exception of the eloquent Duff
of Guns N’ Roses, most of the ’80s acts
sounded like an uncensored Beavis and
Butthead. Come on, man—this award was
no surprise. Plan ahead a little, think of
something to say. If you can’t, hire someone
to write a speech for you and practice it in
front of your mother or a demure old aunt.
2. Be specific in your acknowledgments.
Older acts understand giving credit where
credit is due. Specific and gracious, they
sounded like this: “Our deepest gratitude
to our dear friend and colleague, Nathan
Westin Howell III. Your genius and dogged
determination served as our muse during
this inspired, beautiful time.”
Younger acts at the induction tended to
thank people without actually recognizing
them, clumping everyone who helped into
a semi-anonymous list of first names: “Yo,
I wanna thank Jason, Dave, Tim, the other
Dave, and little Mike.” There’s got to be a
hundred posers by these names telling anybody
listening that they are “the Dave” that
made the Beastie Boys or GN’R happen.
Meanwhile, the real Dave is thinking: “Gee,
I gave them the title for their biggest hit and
lent them $2,000 (which they never paid
back) to cut their first demo. I pitched this
demo to RCA and got them their deal, spent
a year in a Mexican prison after taking the
rap for their bag of cocaine the cops found as
we left Juárez, and this is the thanks I get?”
3. Be sincere. As the old showbiz maxim
goes: The secret of success is sincerity. Once
you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
With a little planning, you can make your
legacy something all will proudly watch.
Or you can show up drunk and just dive
right into that cringe-inspiring, train-wreck
tirade. Hey, it’s only rock ’n’ roll.
is a Nashville multi-instrumentalist
best know for his work in television, having lead the band for all six
season of NBC's hit program Nashville Star
, the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 CMT Music Awards, as well as many specials for GAC, PBS, CMT, USA and HDTV.
John's music compositions and playing can be heard in several major label albums, motion pictures, over one hundred television spots and Muzak... (yes, Muzak does play some cool stuff.) Visit him at youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger