Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees yesterday were Very Important Potheads Laura Nyro (pictured right), the revered and "mercurial" songwriter of "Stoned Soul Picnic" and other hits, and Donovan, the first British rock star to be popped for pot.
At the ceremony, VIP Bette Midler wiped back tears as she inducted Nyro, who died of cancer in 1997.
“She was the very essence of New York City,” Midler said, “Not in a gritty, real sense, but in a passionate, romantic, ethereal way. She would take ordinary people in the most ordinary situations and spin them into heroic figures.” She called Nyro an artist for whom "love was the main thing."
Nyro is the only modern influence Joni Mitchell acknowledges, and she's inspired a host of others. The Fifth Dimension, Blood Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night, and VIP Barbara Streisand all had hits with her songs. Elton John and Elvis Costello discussed Nyro's significant influence on both of them during the premiere episode of Costello's interview show Spectacle on the Sundance channel. Read more about Laura Nyro.
Donovan's early "Green" philosophy was taken from the "hallucinogenic shamanism of the Celts" for whom Mother Earth is a Goddess, according to The Autobiography of Donovan (2005, St. Martin's Press). By his account, the documentary "A Boy Called Donovan" which aired in January 1966 nationwide in Britain, showed his "beatnick" lifestyle and attracted the interest of the newly formed Drug Squad, who made the singer their first high-profile arrest for hashish. To this day, he is labeled a "criminal" on US Visas and needs a "waiver" to enter the US.
“I thank you for this bright green laurel resting now upon my brow,” Donovan said upon accepting his induction. “I thank you, goddess, and I thank you, muses, and I thank my fellow artists all.”
Of course, the Beastie Boys broke the reefer/radio sound barrier on "Licensed To Ill," with lyric, "I got friends in high places that are keeping me high." Countless rap tributes to the weed followed.
Billie Joe Armstrong of the pot-loving band Green Day introduced Guns N’ Roses, and Kid Rock (who sang of "Smoking funny things") was one of the musicians who played tribute to the inductees. It's a good bet there are more marijuana lovers among them.