Why the Beatles Got Called Out at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Beatles absolutely had to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their music’s popularity, influence, and (most importantly) quality meant they deserved that recognition. That doesn’t mean their induction ceremony was without incident.

The Fab Four weren’t the only band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Jan. 20, 1988. The Beach Boys also got their dues that night. Mike Love of the Beach Boys had some surprisingly critical words for the Fab Four.

George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr in the 1960s | Bettmann

Mike Love’s infamous comments about the Beatles

Love has a huge share of critics among Beach Boys fans. Some feel he did everything he could to sabotage the Beach Boys’ avant-garde period. Others criticize Love for his habit of suing members of his own family, namely his cousin and fellow Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

The night his band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Love was angry. He was upset Paul McCartney didn’t bother to show up for the Beatles’ induction. Love hadn’t meditated that day, which made him especially irritable. In one short speech, he called out the Fab Four, Mick Jagger, and Bruce Springsteen.

Mike Love of the Beach Boys speaks at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Love said “The Beach Boys did about 180 performances last year. I’d like to see the Mop Tops [the Beatles] match that! I’d like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do ‘I Get Around’ versus ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ any day now. And I’d like to see some people kick out the jams, and I challenge the Boss to get up onstage and jam.”

Love also criticized Paul’s absence by punningly referencing his band’s famous vocal harmonies. He said Paul’s refusal to attend the ceremony “doesn’t say much for rock ‘n’ roll. Harmony is what we need to make this world work.”  He also accused Jagger of being too “chickensh*t to get onstage with the Beach Boys.”

How people reacted to Mike Love’s words

Mike Love of the Beach Boys in 1980 | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Love said people in the audience might think he’s insane. He said their opinions didn’t matter. Love’s comments received a mix of boos and cheers. In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, Love said he never delivered the “punchline” of the speech without specifying what he intended to say. If his comments were jocular, his intent wasn’t apparent when he gave the speech.

Fellow Beach Boy Carl Wilson was horrified by Love’s comments. He was worried his band’s career was over because of Love’s speech. Lucky for him, the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” would reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 later that year.

What the surviving Beatles or Jagger or Springsteen thought about Love’s words is unknown. However, when Bob Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later that night, he thanked Love for not mentioning him. His comment was a classic Dylan quip.

Also see: Beatles: Who Got Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a Solo Artist 1st?