NEW YORK — It was a conversation among friends Wednesday night at John Varvatos’ Bowery Street flagship, which used to be home to the iconic club CBGB’s.
Varvatos, who frequently waves his rock-loving flag, hosted a panel with Klipsch Audio that included Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick and Matt Sorum of Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and, most recently, Kings of Chaos.
Hughes and Zander will be inducted into the 31st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this Friday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn while Sorum won the distinction in 2012.
The rock stars talked to Varvatos about their favorite albums, early inspirations and what it means to be a part of an elite club. Here are some of the highlights:
John Varvatos: What was your first memory of music?
Matt Sorum: “The Ed Sullivan Show.” When I saw The Beatles and they came to America — I believe I was six years old — and I pointed to the TV and I said to my mom, “I want to be that.” She thought I was talking about John Lennon, but I said, “No, the drummer.”
Glenn Hughes: The year was 1963. I was nine at the time. Or was I 10? It was The Beatles on TV in black-and-white. They were playing “Twist and Shout” and I said to my mom, “Can I have some of that please?” So that was my earliest recollection.
Robin Zander: I stole my older sister’s version of “Twist and Shout” by Sam Cooke. That was the first record I listened to. And from there “The Ed Sullivan Show” came on and blew me away. Then after that it was television with The Rolling Stones and The Dave Clarke Five. It was that British invasion and music of the Sixties.
J.V.: Who influenced you most in your career?
R.Z.: Probably John Lennon. But Detroit was so influential at the time, so bands coming up [from Detroit] at the time like Iggy Pop, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and MC5.
M.S.: For a lot of drummers it was John Bonham, but I actually was inspired by Ginger Baker. My mother and father had played jazz records a lot, so I remember Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa early on. But really it was back to Ringo [Starr] again. And, of course, Ian Gillian from Deep Purple and Bill Ward from Black Sabbath.
G.H.: For me, it was again The Beatles. But in 1965 it was Otis Redding, Al Green and Stevie Wonder. I could go on about those guys. If you know anything about me you know that I’m a rocker, but I love black American music.
J.V.: What’s the one album you can’t live without?
M.S.: The album that I love probably the most is a record called “Burn” by Deep Purple. There are a lot of records I love. The “Burn” album is the record I play over and over and over again. When I finally had the chance to perform that song with Glenn, I just about s–t myself.
J.V.: How does it feel to be a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
M.S.: It was one of the good parts about being in that band [Guns N’ Roses]. I have to say, getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — it was such a huge thing. It was probably the biggest moment.
G.H.: The standard answer for that is that when I was little kid I had no idea I was going to have any success, but I just loved the gift of music that was freely given to me. The gift of music means everything to me.
R.Z.: When we started out there was no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That belonged to baseball players. I remember the cards had ‘HOF’ after their names. What’s really special about this to me is that Glenn and I are entering into it together after being friends for so long. I have goosebumps even saying it.
J.V.: Who should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 20 years from now?
M.S.: Motörhead is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they need to be in, like, next year. But for 20 years from now we are looking at the bands that are happening now. So that would be Queens of the Stone Age. I’d like to see The Killers in it. They are great.
G.H.: Jeff Buckley 100 percent. The guy has to get in.
R.Z.: It’s hard to say because I didn’t think we would ever get in. I think there are some bands that deserve to be in there and aren’t, but it’s up to the Hall of Fame to choose. It depends on a whole bunch of different things that I don’t understand. It’s sort of like this: The first five years that we were eligible we thought, Yeah, we have a chance to get in the Hall of Fame. But then 10 years go by and then you start thinking, ‘We aren’t going to get in.’ Then 15 years go by and you think, ‘They don’t know what they are talking about.’ And then they choose you and all is forgiven.