On January 23, 1986, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon participated in the first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On behalf of their father, John Lennon, they helped induct Elvis Presley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Jack Soden, President and Executive Director of Graceland, and Memphis DJ and close Elvis friend, George Klein.
Julian Lennon, aged 22, appeared in all black, while 10-year-old Sean Lennon was dressed in a handsome white tuxedo. Julian, with Sean standing at his side, was the first speaker in the presentation of Elvis Presley’s award, followed by Jack Soden. The award was then accepted on Elvis’ behalf by his close friend, George Klein.
John Lennon’s admiration for The King of Rock and Roll is now common knowledge among music fans. Lennon said his love for rock and roll was inspired first and foremost by Presley. He credits his motivation to form his first band, which evolved into The Beatles, as a result of wanting to be just like Elvis. Even after the group took shape, their goal of being “bigger than Elvis” helped them achieve worldwide success.
That night at the induction ceremony, Julian Lennon started out with a brief introduction: “Our father was a big fan of Elvis’s and, of course, Elvis was loved all over the world, and we are all influenced [by] him,” Julian said. “I think a lot of people in the world get a lot of pleasure from listening to him and love him greatly.”
Then he read a direct quote from John Lennon, which spoke volumes: “Elvis was the thing, whatever people say, he was it. I was not competing against Elvis, rock happened to be the media I was born into – it was the one, that’s all. Those people who picked up paintbrushes, like Van Gogh, probably wanted to be Renoir or whomever went before him. I wanted to be Elvis.”
Then, Jack Soden read a brief statement from Lisa Marie Presley. He then introduced George Klein, who gave a dramatic and celebratory speech about his friend and best man at his wedding, Elvis Presley. Here is just a brief part of the speech:
“On January 8, 1935, a star was born. You see a star is not made, a star is born… The real honest to goodness rags to riches rise of the most inspiring version of the American Dream to ever happen. In doing so, Elvis fulfilled the hopes and dreams of an entire generation. The world was never to be the same again. You see Elvis Presley wasn’t a star, he was a damn galaxy!”
Other inductees that night at the induction ceremony in New York City included Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Sam Phillips. Notably, Elvis Presley holds the record for being inducted into the greatest number of Music Hall of Fames – 16 to be exact.
If you enjoyed this article, more fascinating Elvis Presley stories can be found in the new book, ELVIS: Behind The Legend: Startling Truths About The King of Rock and Roll’s Life, Loves, Films and Music