Last night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden (the first of a two-night celebration; tonight’s lineup includes U2 and Metallica) featured a series of amazing performances: Stevie Wonder jammed with John Legend on songs by Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen jammed with Tom Morello on a scorching electric version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” and Smokey Robinson delivered a sweet, soulful “Tracks of my Tears.” But the evening’s most surprising musical moment came a few minutes before the show got started.
Before he delivered the formal introduction to the sold-out MSG crowd, Tom Hanks (who was producing the event for broadcast on HBO on November 29) stopped by the press room to answer a few questions about meeting his musical heroes and what rock and roll means to him. When asked what his favorite song of 2009 was, Hanks hesitated a bit before launching into a spastic performance of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that drew laughs and cheers from the normally jaded media crowd.
Clearly, Tom Hanks watched this year’s Video Music Awards!
When a journalist asked him what it was that he liked about it, Hanks replied, “It’s infectious! What are you, an idiot?” That drew another huge laugh. (He quickly apologized for calling the writer an idiot.) Apparently, he had a personal connection to the lyrics, too. “That’s what I said when I met my wife. ’I like that — I’m gonna put a ring on it!'” Minutes later, Hanks was whisked away to open the show and introduce Jerry Lee Lewis, and the night was on. But despite the murderer’s row of rockers that followed, nobody managed to match the majesty of Hanks’ “Single Ladies” moment.