Rascal Flatts‘ performance with members of the rock band Toto capped an evening of musical tributes to the newest inductees of the Musicians Hall of Fame. Monday night’s (Oct. 12) concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville honored the career contributions of Toto, Charlie Daniels and the late Chet Atkins, among others.
Other inductees included record producer Fred Foster (responsible for hits by Roy Orbison and early recordings by Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson), bassist Billy Cox (a member of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys), surf guitar king Dick Dale, Los Angeles session musician Victor Feldman and Motown Records staff musician and arranger Paul Riser.
Headquartered in downtown Nashville, the Musicians Hall of Fame honors musicians and producers who often fail to receive proper recognition for their contributions in the recording studio and on the road.
Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus proclaimed himself as a longtime “Toto fanatic” during remarks leading to the band’s Hall of Fame induction. DeMarcus and Flatts vocalist Gary Levox and guitarist Joe Don Rooney then teamed with members of Toto on four of the rock band’s classics — “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” “I’ll Be Over You” and “Africa.” Toto was represented onstage by guitarist-vocalist Steve Lukather, keyboardist-vocalist David Paich, bassist David Hungate and keyboardist Steve Porcaro.
Dickey Betts, former guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, hosted Daniels’ induction. Daniels and his band responded with a tight performance that included “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Betts joined him to jam on “Southbound,” a song the Allman Brothers recorded for their 1973 album, Brothers and Sisters.
Two of Atkins’ closest friends — Steve Wariner and Paul Yandell — followed and performed snippets of several of his most famous guitar instrumentals, including “Mr. Sandman,” “Yakety Axe” and “Windy and Warm.” Atkins’ daughter, Merle Atkins Russell, accepted the induction award on his behalf.
Gary Puckett, best known as the lead vocalist of the Union Gap, opened the show with one of the band’s hits, “Woman Woman,” and also handled the induction of Feldman, who died in 1987. Puckett explained that the pianist-percussionist played on the sessions for the Union Gap and with artists ranging from Miles Davis to Steely Dan.
As a tribute to Foster, Tony Joe White performed “Polk Salad Annie,” a hit he recorded for Foster’s label, Monument Records. Foster briefly reflected on his career during his acceptance speech.
Beach Boys guitarist Al Jardine performed one of the band’s biggest hits, “Help Me, Rhonda,” and then noted Dale’s many accomplishments — including convincing Fender Guitars founder Leo Fender to build the first 100-watt guitar amplifier. At age 72, Dale still projected a flamboyant image as he grabbed his Stratocaster guitar for a loud, reverb-drenched medley of hits, including “Misirlou,” which was used during the title sequence of director Quentin Tarantino’s film, Pulp Fiction.
Chris Layton, who played drums in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band, Double Trouble, hosted Cox’s induction. Cox began playing music with Hendrix when they met as soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., in the early ’60s. The rock star achieved fame in the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding, but Hendrix and Cox reunited in 1969 in a new group, the Band of Gypsys. Cox remained in the band until Hendrix’s death in 1970.
At the Musicians Hall of Fame event, Layton played drums behind Cox and two guitarists on several songs, including Hendrix’s “Red House” and “Voodoo Chile.”
Although Riser was not present at the induction ceremony, Motown session bassist Bob Babbitt accepted the award on his behalf and spoke of Riser’s skills as a music arranger. Riser’s arrangements are heard on hits such as the Temptations’ “My Girl” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown.”