The 21st annual Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony happens March 13 at the Waldorf Astoria–big ticket $$$ to foot the Waldorf bill prob but also because the Rock Hall is non-profit, no? You’d think they’d throw the media a bone (or a sandwich); instead, if you’re covering this event, you’re stuck in some backroom with TV monitors beaming in the ballroom blitz and (if you’re lucky) ad hoc press conferences whenever any of the inductees choose to accept an invitation to meet the press. Right, like the Lynyrd Skynyrd dudes are gonna accept an invitation.
Inductees this year include Lynyrd Skynyrd, then a usual list of tokens: Black Sabbath (metal), Blondie (disco; woman), Sex Pistols (punk), Herb Alpert (not really rock and roll but “understood the spirit” dog), and Miles Davis (black; trumpet).
Weird thing we were tipped to this morning, Davis’s first son Gregory–who if you’ve read the Miles autobios was the son who stuck close to his father around the Bitches Brew years, 68-69-70 and beyond, right when Davis was flirting with rock and funk and crazy sunglasses and wah-wah pedals and all the stuff that’s getting him into the hall of fame–is apparently having trouble getting comped for the induction. “I was with him at an early age traveling with him, and as he got older and he got sick, I was the one that he called upon,” says Gregory over the phone. He currently lives in the city, plays trumpet in a Miles Davis tribute band, owns 25% of the publishing rights for post-63 Miles material.
“The very period Miles is being acknowledged for is the period when Gregory was most closely associated with the music,” says Gregory’s lawyer Lloyd Jassin. “We were not asking for Gregory to receive the award, merely to be part of the cocktail reception. They were quite rude in dealing with me.” Tickets for the event, report Jassin, cost about $2000 each, which Gregory just can’t afford.
“It’s a charity event. We’re a not-for-profit organization, and this is our only fundraiser,” says Elizabeth Freund, who handles the event’s PR. The Rock Hall’s policy is that each inductee only receives two comps, expectation being hey, these inductees are famous rock stars, they have the money to buy tickets for the people who want to come. They gave those two tickets to the Davis estate. “I heard they bought seven other tickets,” says Gregory, “but none of them coming to me or his grandchildren.”
Gregory blames his half-sister, Cheryl-Ann Davis, for systematically keeping him away not only from the Davis induction, but the Davis estate purse period–he was left out of the will. “They haven’t offered me a penny that they’ve made off of Miles Davis’s name,” he says, pointing out that Cheryl-Ann isn’t even Davis’s daughter–she was born to Gregory’s mother during her marriage to Davis, but by a different man. “There are no Davises in that institution that they call the Miles Davis estate. They’re just throwing his music around, selling it for what they can get. Cheryl-Ann, she even said it out of her own mouth, she don’t even like jazz, and he never did anything for me, which is a lie.”
If Gregory was so close to his father, why was he left out of the will? Gregory says it’s an elaborate conspiracy. “My father was told a lie on his deathbed,” says Gregory. “I talked to his girlfriend, I had just entered Long Island University Brooklyn Campus, and I needed to buy a roundtrip ticket, I didn’t have the money. His girlfriend talked to me and said, ‘Gregory you really need to be here, tell the office to send you a ticket.’ But they wouldn’t give me a ticket. Two days later he was gone.”
He just wants to raise a glass of champagne to his father, says Jassin–he’ll even stand in the back and bring his own champagne. Gregory has a different way of putting it. “Why shut me out? I’m not a crazy person.”