With this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony going virtual (and premium cable) on November 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans who wanted to pay their respects to the classics might be surprised by the ceremony’s runtime: It clocks in at just over two hours, substantially down from its usual overstuffed (but always welcome) four- or five-hour boomer stampede. The main reason for the downsizing is the lack of any sort of performance throughout the induction — not even an “all-star jam” with the inductees attempting something fun over Zoom. But as Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, told Vulture in a recent interview, the decision not to try performances — which have been well-executed for several COVID-era awards shows — was a conscious one.
“We looked at different ways to have live performances by the inductees or artists performing for the artists who are deceased,” Peresman explained. “In the spring and summer, it really just became overwhelming to try to pull that off. There were so many events that were starting to happen with people doing performances on their iPhones and then they got a little bit more sophisticated. We thought that was kind of boring to try to go through the hoops of having artists performing with no audience, or doing it with just family or friends. It didn’t make any creative sense.”
Peresman said that geographical and logistical factors were incorporated into the decision, as the inductees were scattered everywhere from Hawaii to London. He also confirmed that the Rock Hall sent “some” feelers to the inductees to see if they would be interested in performing at all, although he didn’t elaborate on the responses received. “Then you get into the aspect of their crews,” Peresman added. “Nobody was working, and everybody was off the road and at home hunkered down. It wasn’t as easy [as it would have been if] they were already in tour mode. Everybody was quarantined. There were too many lockdown factors. We realized it wasn’t going to be manageable.” Hey, we get it — not every virtual performance can be as good as the Rolling Stones being cute and boogying around in their mansions.