"I’m coming down off the cloud. It'll take me a few days, but I expect I’ll get there," said 71-year-old drummer Dickie Harrell, who, as part of Gene Vincent's original band, was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame on Saturday.
A number of the early Blue Caps have passed away, including bassist Jack Neal who died just this past September. Harrell, Bobby Jones, Tommy Facenda and Johnny Meeks were able to accept the honor in Cleveland, though.
Harrell, who lives in Portsmouth, told me the experience was unforgettable. "They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words," he wrote in an e-mail message. "To me, getting this award is worth a million memories. It may sound real corny but this is the way I feel."
Because the Blue Caps were inducted as part of a crowd of previously overlooked backing bands -- including James Brown's Flames and Smokey Robinson's Miracles -- Harrell didn't get much time to talk, he said.
"Johnny’s [Meeks] birthday was Sunday, he was 75," Harrell said. "I mentioned that. That made him feel good." Otherwise, he said he accepted the award on behalf of all the Blue Caps and before he could share too many memories, his time was up.
He said he's sure that Blue Caps guitarist Cliff Gallup would have been pleased. The influential guitarist, who died in 1988, has since been hailed as an important rock instrumentalist. British guitarist Jeff Beck recorded an album-length tribute to Gallup in 1993.
"Cliff was sort of low profile," Harrell remembered. "He was a lot older than we were at that time. He was strictly business. As far as the sound was concerned, Cliff’s style was sort of Les Paul and Chet Atkins mixed. That’s where he got that sound."
Harrell said Gallup's guitar, along with Neal's bass and Willie Williams' rhythm guitar -- along with his own drums -- created something special.
"It went all over the world," Harrell said. "A lot of the musicians, when we’d go over seas, like Jeff Beck, they’d all say the same thing. That was the sound that set them off. Cliff was their idol. They really looked up to him."
Backstage at Saturday's induction ceremony, the remaining Blue Caps rubbed elbows with Kid Rock,Ian McLagan of the Small Faces and Steve Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
HBO will broadcast a special shot at Saturday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event at 9 p.m. May 5.
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