The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday proudly announced a class that includes:
•One of the dominant hardcore/metal bands of the past 20 years;
•The woman who sang behind James Brown for 15 years and has helped keep the JBs going since Brown’s death;
•One of the biggest heavy metal voices from Buffalo;
•The go-to pedal steel guitar player in Western New York;
•Rick James’ financial and legal partner – and brother; and
•A music venue that has been featuring live music for 37 years – and for seven nights a week for almost all of that time.
The six inductees were officially unveiled during a special press conference held at the Buffalo History Museum. The inductees will officially enter the Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at Cardinal O’Hara Performing Art Center in Tonawanda. Buffalo Music Hall of Fame board member Carolyn Moser will serve as event chairwoman.
This year’s inductees include:
•Jim Crean, who has been a recording and touring musician for over 35 years, establishing himself both locally and nationally. He is the lead vocalist for Appice (featuring Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge; Cactus; Rod Stewart band; and his brother, Vinny Appice of Dio and Black Sabbath), touring nationally and internationally. The Appice album “Sinister” reached 31 on the Billboard hard rock chart. Crean’s sixth and seventh solo albums will be out by this fall. His recordings have featured an all-star squad of collaborators on his upcoming album (Mike Tramp of White Lion, Phil Lewis of LA Guns, Frank Dimino of Angel and Talas’ Dave Constantino and Phil Naro among them). Crean also is lead singer for Hair Nation.
•Every Time I Die’s albums have become regulars on the Billboard Top 200, with three surging into the top 30 and two reaching No. 1 on the hard rock charts. The group has toured internationally in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and South Africa. ETID, currently comprised of Keith Buckley (vocals), Jordan Buckley (lead guitar), Andy Williams (rhythm guitar), Stephen Micciche (bass) and Clayton “Goose” Holyoak (drums), was formed in 1998 and has since recorded eight albums. Its annual Christmas shows in Buffalo have become instant sell-outs.
•Rick James blazed new paths in funk in the late 1970s and through the ’80s, but his brother, LeRoi Callwell Johnson, was setting new standards, as well. Recruited to work with James, Johnson became a music industry powerhouse, revolutionizing the way artists were marketed, and negotiating groundbreaking contracts for performers such as the Mary Jane Girls and Process & the Doo Rags. He was president of Mary Jane Productions, and LeRoi and Associates – which managed James, the Mary Jane Girls, Process & the Doo Rags and Val Young. The company had more than 70 employees. After he stopped working with James in the early ’90s, Johnson maintained a presence in music as an attorney and adviser for many artists. He’s also known as a painter, a classical guitarist and – yes – he co-wrote songs for recordings by James and Young. He has also been very active in civic affairs in Buffalo.
•Cynthia “First Sister” Moore joined James Brown’s group as a singer in 1991 and she stayed with him through his death in 2006. But Moore became far more than just a singer. She became a major part of the Brown organization, touring the world, helping the soul legend manage his hectic life, and even helping care for him when he was sick. Then, after Brown’s passing, she became the one constant in the JBs as the band has toured to the present day. Onstage, she handles many of Brown’s songs herself, singing the leads on some of his classics. The JBs released their newest album, “We Came to Play,” this past spring.
•Joe Rubino bought Nietzche’s, the Allentown bar formally known as the Jamestown, in 1982. He renamed it as Nietzsche’s and almost immediately started bringing in music, quickly reaching seven days a week. The music has ranged from local to national to international (think Blue Rodeo!). It hasn’t always been easy, but Rubino’s club has become a community center of sorts for the music world – a place where everybody can feel comfortable – and Hall of Famers like Ani DiFranco and Tom Stahl could get their start at an open mic night.
•For the past 40 years, when somebody needed a pedal steel guitar player, they went to Kenny Petersen. The ultimate sideman, he’s recorded on countless songs through the years and served as pedal steel player for bands such as the Pistols, the J.C. Thompson Band, Gotham Rose, the Paul Zittel Band and Stone Country. He appeared as an actor and musician in the Kavinoky Theatre’s “Hank Williams: Lost Highway.” In 2018, Peterson released his first solo album, “Truckload of Steel,” before announcing his retirement from performing in public due to health concerns.
The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation entity created for the cultural enhancement and enrichment of Buffalo and Western New York through the region's musicians and music history. The organization was established in 1983.
The BMHOF's mission is to honor and protect the diverse cultural music heritage of WNY through preservation, education, scholarship and performance. In doing so, the BMHOF has inducted over 300 members, including outstanding musicians, performers, innovators and non-performers who have made special contributions to WNY music.