While the AFM President is required to attend a wide variety of meetings and events, few so far have topped one that I attended in November 2007. It was the first annual induction of recording musicians into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum (MHOF). Joe Chambers, a musician/songwriter and the CEO of the MHOF, conceived the idea and, through dedication and perseverance, made it a reality. He not only secured the building for the museum, he also created an awards show in honor of those studio musicians who performed on hundreds of hit recordings but never received the recognition status of the artists. So now musicians have an annual award show in which outstanding individuals or groups may be inducted into the MHOF.
The museum is located in Nashville, Tennessee, just a few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame and contains guitars, drum sets, amplifiers, gold and platinum records, and all those things that you would expect to find in an exhibit honoring musicians. These items of interest were donated by musicians or families of musicians who performed on hundreds of great recordings.
AFM International Vice President Harold Bradley, himself an inductee in the MHOF, as well as in the Country Music Hall of Fame, was contacted by Chambers early last year and acted as an advisor in those areas relating to the AFM. It was an honor for the AFM when Chambers asked if I would like to say a few words during the ceremony in support of the musician inductees. It was an absolute to privilege to do so.
The importance of a Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum award show cannot be overstated. As many of the participating artists indicated, it is the talented background musicians who make the hit songs come to life. And it was clear to all in attendance that the folks on stage that night were unbelievably talented and responsible for so many hit songs.
Inductees that evening included: The Nashville A-Team, The Wrecking Crew, The Funk Brothers, The Blue Moon Boys, The Memphis Boys, and The Tennessee Two. And they were joined in their performances by recording artists Brenda Lee, George Jones of Local 257, Vince Gill of Local 257, Amy Grant, Peter Frampton of Local 257, Garth Brooks, B.J. Thomas, Rodney Crowell of Local 257, Roger McGuinn of Local 427-721 (Tampa Bay, FL), and many others. Someone remarked that it is unlikely that there will ever be a collection of that many talented musicians with such a vast array of hit recordings on the same stage again. I believe it!
While there were several great moments that evening, one in particular occurred just before I spoke. During his acceptance speech, Don Randi of Local 47, a member of The Wrecking Crew, spoke about the fact that all of the sessions were on union contracts. He went on to say that, as a result of insisting that their sessions were on AFM contracts, the musicians have amassed significant pension contributions that they are now receiving as retirement income. He continued by noting that it was important that they never allowed the producers to attempt to persuade them to do dark dates. Randi now owns a jazz club in Los Angeles and is a terrific individual who believes in the necessity of a strong union.
I urge …