Skip to main content

The Beatles and The Beach Boys are classic rock bands with very different histories. However, their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speeches had an unusual similarity: they each mentioned one star athlete. Here’s what the bands had to say — and what this athlete said when The Beach Boys’ Mike Love mentioned him.

The Beatles on a stage
The Beatles | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

2 of The Beatles briefly paid tribute to this athlete at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

When The Beatles were inducted into the Hall of Fame, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were the only members of the band present. John Lennon had died by that point and Paul McCartney declined to appear. During his acceptance speech, George thanked some of The Beatles’ influences, like Lead Belly and Little Richard. Ringo then interjected “And don’t forget Muhammad Ali!”

George smiled and the audience laughed. George replied “We won’t forget Muhammad Ali. He picked us up in Miami Beach one day.” George appeared to be referring to the time the Fab Four met Ali in 1964. According to The Miami Herald, Ali told The Beatles they weren’t as dumb as they looked. John responded by saying Ali was as dumb as he looked.

Part of The Beatles’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

1 of The Beach Boys mentioned Muhammad Ali in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech

The Beach Boys’ Hall of Fame induction had a very different vibe from The Beatles’ induction. The Beach Boys’ Mike Love criticized Paul for refusing to show up to The Beatles’ Hall of Fame induction. He said the different bands in the Hall of Fame and the people of the United States of America should be able to find harmony.

“But what I’m talking about is, forget this room,” Love said. “The United States is just 6 percent of the population of the world. That’s why I came here tonight with Muhammad Ali, Mohammad! Salamu alaykum!” For context, “As-salamu alaykum” is an Arabic greeting which translates to “Peace be upon you.” The phrase is often associated with Islam and Ali was a devout Muslim.

The Beach Boys at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Kiss’ Gene Simmons Thinks These Artists Don’t Belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The traditional response is “Wa alaykumu s-salam,” which means “may peace be upon you.” Love noted Ali didn’t initially respond to him. Afterward, Ali said “alaykumu s-salam.”

The Beach Boys song that references Muhammad Ali

Interestingly, The Beach Boys paid tribute to Ali outside of that speech. A track on their album Shut Down Volume 2 is called “”Cassius” Love vs. “Sonny” Wilson.” The song references the rivalry between The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Brian Wilson and the rivalry between Ali and Sonny Liston. The song wasn’t a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, Shut Down Volume 2 was a success. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 38 weeks. While he wasn’t a rocker, Ali had an impact on some rock stars.