A Hall of Fame Tribute For Phila. Music Stars – Ten New Bronze Plaques Were Unveiled on the Walk of Fame at Broad and Pine.
Ann Kolson, Inquirer Staff Writer
First things first: No, Phil Spector, the eccentric, reclusive – and elusive – pop legend did not show up.
“Phil’s probably circling the block deciding whether to come in,” joked Susan Schulman, Philadelphia Music Alliance executive director, at a midmorning reception yesterday at the University of the Arts’ Haviland Hall. The producer who created the ’60s recording technique known as the “wall of sound” and made stars of the Crystals, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers, was believed to be in town. Word was that he arrived Wednesday night, in from California to accept the PMA’s Philadelphia Award and to have his name unveiled on a bronze plaque embedded with nine others in the sidewalk at Broad and Pine Streets.
At the noon ceremony, however, organizers could only wonder if their guest of honor would show up at the PMA gala scheduled last night at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel. (He did.)
But the warm sun shone on those Philadelphia music legends who did appear. They emerged from gleaming white stretch limousines, attended by friends, family, classmates and former neighbors who remembered them when.
“Joe used to clean out kennels for my husband, a vet,” said Ruth Anne Rude, speaking of Harrowgate’s Joseph Bonsall, now better known as one of the Oak Ridge Boys. “He sang all the time.” Bonsall, in an eye-popping hot pink jacket, and fellow Oak Ridge Boy Richard Sterban, a Collingswood native resplendent in bright purple, had their wives with them, snapping photos. Sterban’s mother, Victoria, was there, too, wearing her gold-and-emerald “ORB” necklace.
Others inducted yesterday into the PMA Hall of Fame, and its Walk of Fame along South Broad Street, were rhythm-and-blues pioneer Solomon Burke; jazz singer, composer and pianist Nina Simone (who did not make the trip from her home in Marseilles, France); the Stylistics soul trio; gospel singer Marion Williams; the late composer and lyricist Joe Burke (“Moon Over Miami,” ”Tiptoe Through the Tulips”); the late classical composer Vincent Persichetti, and the late jazzman, tenor sax player Charlie Ventura.
They join 65 others whose 16-by-22 inch plaques decorate the eight-year-old Walk, which stretches between Walnut and Pine. Musicians such as Eugene Ormandy, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Andrews, Hall and Oates, Mario Lanza and Grover Washington Jr. have been honored in past years.
Those inductees present were introduced yesterday during a brief ceremony inside Haviland Hall. Burke, a West Philadelphia native and ordained minister who’s being treated for throat problems, arrived late in a floor-length purple satin robe trimmed in gold. Williams, who underwent bypass surgery three weeks ago, sat in a wheelchair and was accompanied by “a truckload” of family and supporters, as one PMA official put it.
Dean Tyler, radio executive and PMA chairman, brought forth the honorees (or relatives accepting on their behalf) in alphabetical order. Williams, a North Philadelphia resident who won the greatest applause from bystanders, last year received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and was a Kennedy Center honoree.
“I didn’t think Philadelphia thought about me,” she said yesterday. She thanked her surgeon, Stephen Goldstein, who was among the crowd, and acknowledged a member of her physical therapy team, Herbie Campbell, who got a hand, too.
Of the absent Spector, Tyler said: “Phil Spector is rock and roll; rock and roll is Phil Spector.” Then, he added, “We’re not exactly sure where he is, but that’s Phil Spector.”
More awards were to be given out at last night’s dinner: Mayor Rendell was named winner of the 1994 Hal Weissman Humanitarian Award. Composer Russell Faith (“Bobby Sox to Stockings”), bassoonist and educator Sol Schoenbach and the late entertainment executive Manie Sacks were also given awards from the nonprofit PMA, a music-education organization dedicated to preserving Philadelphia’s musical heritage.
The PMA also awarded Hall of Fame scholarships to 10 University of the Arts music students: Mark Caprioti, Kevin Jacoby, Ron Keith, Pamela Lindenmuth, Aaron Meicht, Kathleen Mitchell, John Moran, James Morris, Nicole Pacifico and Joyell Washington.