Memphis Mayor AC Wharton joined with representatives from the Smithsonian-developed Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum Tuesday, Oct. 16, in announcing the launch of a Memphis Music Hall of Fame tribute to the city’s musical legends.
The 25 initial inductees of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order are: Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart; Bobby “Blue” Bland; Booker T. and The MG’s; Lucie Campbell; George Coleman; Jim Dickinson; Al Green; W.C. Handy; Isaac Hayes; Howlin’ Wolf; B.B. King; Jerry Lee Lewis; Jimmie Lunceford; Professor W.T. McDaniel; Memphis Minnie; Willie Mitchell; Dewey Phillips; Sam Phillips; Elvis Presley; Otis Redding; The Staple Singers; Rufus Thomas; Three 6 Mafia; Nat D. Williams; and ZZ Top.
Wharton said the event came at a great time, as he just came back from Berlin, where the Memphis Exhibition Berlin runs until Oct. 28. Located in Berlin’s Gibson Guitar Showroom, the show displays photographs, clothing, films and other Memphis memorabilia.
“The awe and reverence with which people walk through that museum and just be able to touch a picture of a Bobby Bland or a BB or all of the great stuff that we have here,” Wharton said Tuesday at The Warehouse, 36 E. G. E. Patterson Ave. “It’s just so amazing about how the world around just treasures what sometimes we take for granted. What this event says here today is we ain’t going to take it for granted anymore.”
Presenting the guitar-inspired plaques for each of the 25 initial inductees were representatives from Memphis’ many music organizations and attractions, such as Sun Studio, Stax Museum, Memphis Music Foundation, Center for Southern Folklore, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. and The Blues Foundation. A moment of silence was given for Memphis musician B. B. Cunningham Jr., who was killed in a shooting Sunday.
John Doyle, executive director of Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, said the Music Hall of Fame has been in the works for six or seven years.
“All of us apologize for being late. We should have started this 20 years ago, or maybe 40 years ago,” Doyle said. “We are announcing inaugural inductees, but this is not an inaugural class because we will continue this for years and years and years.”
While several states have music hall of fames, Doyle said Memphis is the first city to launch such an initiative.
“This is really the only city that can launch something like this because not only did we get on the musical map because of our musical legends, but these legends also changed the entire cultural complexion of the world,” Doyle said.
The 2012 inaugural inductees into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame were determined by a nominating committee consisting of national authors, historians, and music industry representatives which came together for deliberation in May. Hall of Fame Inductions will continue to be held annually.
“We’re beginning to announce 350 and more inductees that will go into this thing,” Doyle said. “And when we get to year five and year 10, we will still be inducting Grammy nominees, Grammy winners, chart toppers, legends as we continue on and on. The list is endless.”
The press conference was webcast live by DittyTV, a free online music broadcast network started last year in a studio at 508 S. Main St. by husband and wife investors Ronnie and Amy Wright.
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Memphis on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. Tickets for that event are now on sale through www.ticketmaster.com.
Currently, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame is available at memphismusichalloffame.com, with web design and content courtesy of Simple Focus. Plans for an interactive gallery inside of the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum at 191 Beale St. are also being pursued.