A class of seven world-changing musical icons were announced today for induction into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. During an afternoon reception held today at King’s Palace Cafe on Beale Street, the Hall of Fame announced the seventh annual class of Inductees that will be honored at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
The prestigious 2018 Inductees, who will bring the total Memphis Music Hall of Fame roster to 74, include (alphabetically), blue-eyed soul and American rock group, The Box Tops, Grammy-winning gospel artist, O’Landa Draper, songwriter and Stax soul and R&B great, Eddie Floyd, the undisputed “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, radio icon, member of the Memphis Mafia, George Klein, rockabilly pioneers The Rock and Roll Trio, and the godfather’s of Memphis rap music, 8Ball & MJG. This year’s line-up of Memphis Music Hall of Fame Inductees continues to highlight the great diversity of Memphis’ many musical genres.
The Queen of Soul’s birthplace will officially celebrate her life and music at the 2018 Memphis Music Hall of Fame ceremony with a spectacular musical tribute. Franklin passed away on August 16 after an extended illness. Memphis rap pioneers, 8Ball & MJG, become just the second Inductee from the rap/hip-hop genre to be inducted, a genre for which Memphis excels. The Box Tops and The Rock and Roll Trio become the tenth and eleventh groups to enter The Hall. George Klein becomes the fifth radio disc jockey (counting B.B. King and Rufus Thomas). Alex Chilton becomes just the second person inducted twice, and the only person inducted twice as a member of two different groups. All seven 2018 Inductees join an elite group of world-changing Memphis Music Hall of Fame Inductees which already includes Al Green, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Cash and sixty others. The 2018 Inductees were announced by Memphis TV, radio and print journalists, and were presented to the audience adorning giant faux music magazine covers.
A star-studded lineup of performers will take to the nexAir Stage at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m. to honor this year’s Inductees at the annual Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Tickets for the event went on sale today, and are available at the Cannon Center Box Office, or through Ticketmaster and ticketmaster.com. Orchestra tickets are $50; VIP tickets are $100 and come with a Hall of Fame “swag bag” provided by MLGW and an official, limited-edition 2018 Memphis Music Hall of Fame poster produced by Memphis’ Scott Street Arts and The Artist Commons, designed by Memphis artist Rachel Briggs who has created illustrations and photography for Rolling Stone Magazine, SPIN, The Memphis Flyer, The Village Voice, and many album cover projects for a litany of record companies. Briggs will be on hand at the Induction Ceremony to sign posters.
New this year, the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) is supporting the November 1 Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony by purchasing 100 tickets to distribute, while supplies last, to working musicians. “We agree with the Hall of Fame that our rich musical history is complemented by an unequaled, vibrant and growing contemporary music scene which makes Memphis unrivaled as a music city,” said Jennifer Oswalt, DMC President. “We believe that the creators of today’s unique Memphis sound should join in this celebration, and the Downtown Memphis Commission is happy to assist in that goal.” Additionally this year, Memphis Music Initiative will join with the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to present the first ever Memphis Music Hall of Fame youth forum, “Amplify Your Opinion,” a symposium held in conjunction with the Induction Ceremony that will bring inner-city youth together with Memphis musicians, ceremony Inductees and presenters. Students who participate in Memphis Music Initiative programs will be tapped to participate in “Amplify’s” planning and presentation. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will present the official “Red Carpet” on Induction Ceremony night, offering attendees unique pre-show photo opportunities. Then, for those who can’t make the show, Memphis Tourism will host and produce the official “Backstage Social Suite,” providing live, worldwide feeds and social media posts throughout the ceremony, offering unique interviews with presenters, Inductees and special guests.
“The Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has developed into the greatest annual celebration of Memphis music. Audiences have come to expect rousing performances which embrace our city’s many genres of music and celebrate the musical greats who made them legendary,” says John Doyle, Executive Director of the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. “This year’s concert and the iconic list of Inductees will raise those expectations even higher. Just imagine an evening that goes from the influential beats of 8Ball & MJG to a roof-raising choir celebrating O’Landa Draper. Plus, when Aretha Franklin’s birthplace presents its official celebration of her life and music, the Cannon Center will explode.”
The Smithsonian-developed Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum launched the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012 to pay proper tribute to the hundreds of legendary musicians who helped place Memphis, TN on the world map and, in doing so, created the music that shook the planet. In 2015, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum also opened the Memphis Music Hall of Fame museum, located at 126 Beale at Second Street, adjacent to Hard Rock Cafe. For more information about the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, its roster of world-changing inductees, the 2018 Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame museum, visit www.memphismusichalloffame.com.
The Box Tops – Blue-eyed soul and rock group from Memphis that first charted in 1967 with “The Letter” which was recorded at Chips Moman’s American Recording Studio like most of their 1960s hits. From 1967-69, the group released four albums and 10 singles. “The Letter” remained at the top of Billboard’s chart for four weeks in 1967. Their third single, “Cry Like A Baby,” hit the number two position for two weeks in 1968. Both records went gold, with “The Letter” selling over four million copies and “Cry Like A Baby” over two million. The original members (Alex Chilton, Bill Cunningham, John Evans, Danny Smythe, and Gary Talley) were members of a local band called The Devilles, but changed the group’s name around the release of “The Letter.” By January 1968 the line-up had changed. John Evans and Danny Smythe returned to school and were replaced by Rick Allen (from the Gentrys) and Thomas Boggs (from the Board of Directors).
O’Landa Draper – Grammy Award-winning Gospel music artist, considered one of the top gospel artists of the 1990s. Draper was nominated for the Grammy Award, Stellar Award and the Dove Award multiple times. His mother was a gospel music promoter and artist, and was a main reason for his fascination in the genre. When he was 13, he moved to Memphis and attended Overton High School. In 1985, he formed his own choir, The Associates. Draper and the choir recorded their first label album, Do It Again in 1990. Their second album, Above and Beyond, received a Grammy nomination. The choir performed for presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, sang back up for Billy Joel during the 1994 Grammy Awards, and performed with such celebrities as Jennifer Holliday, B.B. King, Albertina Walker and Shirley Caesar. In 1996, Draper recorded and released his third Grammy nominated live album Gotta Feelin’. In 1998, Draper released Reflections, his last album before his death. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album in 1999.
Eddie Floyd – Best known for his work on Stax in the 1960s and 1970s including the number one R&B hit song “Knock on Wood,” Floyd was a founding member of the Detroit-based Falcons. Floyd signed a contract with Stax Records as a songwriter in 1965, where he wrote the hit song “Comfort Me” for Carla Thomas. He then teamed with Stax’s guitarist Steve Cropper to write songs for Wilson Pickett, including “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)” and “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.).” In 1966, Floyd recorded a song initially written for Otis Redding. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records convinced Stax president Jim Stewart to release Floyd’s version. The Steve Cropper-Eddie Floyd “Knock on Wood” launched Floyd’s solo career, and has been covered by over a hundred different artists from David Bowie to Count Basie. Despite his own successful career, Floyd became one of Stax’ most productive writers. Almost every Stax artist recorded Floyd material.
Aretha Franklin – The Grammy Award-winning “Queen of Soul,” and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was born in Memphis, TN, where her father pastored at New Salem Baptist Church, before moving to Detroit. In 1966, she signed with Atlantic Records, where she released her first legendary single, “Respect,” written by Otis Redding. While with Atlantic, she released three more top ten hits – “Baby I Love You,” “A Natural Women,” and “Chain Of Fools” – won her first two Grammy awards, and eight consecutive Grammys in the best female R&B vocal category. Hits continued – “Think,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Ain’t No Way” and into the 1980s with “Who’s Zoomin Who?” which achieved platinum-certified success, “I Know You Were Waiting For Me,” and others. In 1993, Aretha sang at Bill Clinton’s inauguration; in 2009 at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018.
George Klein – One of the most influential radio air personalities of the 1960s and 70s, with his radio and television career continuing into 2018. He first met Elvis Presley in eighth grade while attending Humes High School, and the two became lifelong friends, with Klein serving as a member of the King’s Memphis Mafia and with Elvis serving as Klein’s best man. Between 1964 and 1973, he hosted “Talent Party,” a hugely successful teen dance TV program on Memphis’ WHBQ-TV, giving many garage bands their first television exposure. Klein has published two books, “Elvis Presley: A Family Album” and “Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley.” For years Klein has been heard globally each week on SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio and on “The George Klein Original Elvis Hour” on WLFP FM.
The Rock and Roll Trio – Brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette of Memphis came together with Paul Burlison of Brownsville, TN, maneuvering down a very winding, unpredictable path to become The Rock and Roll Trio, an influential act of rock’s early years. All three were Golden Glove boxing champions. In 1951 they began playing together at the hillbilly nightspots on the outskirts of Memphis, both as a trio and as a part of other groups, playing a mixture of country and bluegrass, sometimes tainted with cottonpatch blues… so that patrons had music to do the 1940-1950s bop and jitterbug, popular at the time. The sound later called rockabilly. After losing jobs at Crown Electric Company (sound familiar), they moved to New York City and, after trying out for the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, they won three straight appearances and earned a spot on the finalists’ tour in 1956, originally billed as “The Rock and Roll Boys from Memphis.” After being signed to Decca Records, they adopted “The Rock and Roll Trio.” They appeared on all the major shows including The Tonight Show, American Bandstand and Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall, however influential singles including “Tear It Up,” “Midnight Train,” “Lonesome Tears In My Eyes,” “The Train Kept A-Rollin,” “Honey Hush” and others failed to impact the national charts… though they did influence The Beatles, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and others.
8Ball & MJG – After meeting at Ridgeway High School and emerging from Memphis’ Orange Mound neighborhood, they first appeared on the rap scene with their 1991 underground album Listen to the Lyrics, followed by the successful 1993 album Comin’ Out Hard. Subsequent albums of the 1990s including On the Outside Looking In and On Top of the World cemented their status among the South’s best rappers. The latter was particularly successful, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 200 and being certified Gold, containing the song “Space Age Pimpin,” their first single to chart. After solo projects, they reunited in 1999 to release their fourth and fifth albums, In Our Lifetime and Space Age 4 Eva. They have been signed to labels of both Sean Combs and T.I., and recorded alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, Three 6 Mafia, Ludacris, Cee-Lo Green and others while continuing to produce and release albums.