By Jim Johnson

Jon Bon Jovi — filling in for a grief-stricken Ray Davies — capped the 2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame gala with a medley of Kinks classics, including “You Really Got Me,” “Low Budget” and “All Day and All of the Night.”

Despite canceling due to the sudden death of his sister, Davies did make an appearance on video at the Marriott Marquis in New York. He delivered a brief and low-key acceptance speech.

The organization’s 46th annual gala featured honorees and performances from pop, rock, country and soul — as well as a salute to the 100th anniversary of the performance rights organization ASCAP. That set featured an overture of songs it represents, ranging from “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” to “Yesterday,” plus Chita Rivera singing the West Side Storyanthem “America” and Chubby Checker bringing the house to its feet with “Let’s Twist Again.”

Among the other memorable moments:

  • 2014 inductee Donovan, was joined by Rosanne Cash on “Catch the Wind” and then followed it with a solo take on “Sunshine Superman.”
  • Martina McBride put her stamp on “Suspicious Minds,” as its composer, Mark James, was inducted.
  • Former American Idol champion Candace Glover performied “Midnight Train to Georgia” in honor of its newly inducted songwriter, Jim Weatherly.
  • The duo A Great Big World saluted 2014 inductee Graham Gouldman with a sweet performance of 10cc‘s “I’m Not in Love” before Gouldman sizzled with his classic Holliescomposition “Bus Stop.”
  • Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons — winner of the Hal David Starlight Award, given to up-and-coming writers — brought a contemporary touch with his group’s recent smash “Radioactive.”
  • Jackie Evancho delivered an emotionally charged version of “Over the Rainbow,” named the Towering Song on the 75th anniversary of its debut in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Contemporary artist Miguel saluted Philly Soul producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff with an emotional take on “Me and Mrs. Jones.” This year’s Johnny Mercer Awardwinners — a “best of the best” honor for previous Hall inductees — spoke of their 50-year writing partnership. Huff said, “The more we wrote, the better we got,” while Gamble added, “It’s been a wonderful life.” Among those he thanked were DJs on black radio stations “at that corner of the dial,” who first played their music. He even offered a surprising revelation — that onetime Columbia Records executive Ron Alexenberg named their label. Gamble noted that after signing a distribution deal, he and Huff couldn’t settle on a name they liked. They considered “Monster,” until Alexenberg suggested Philadelphia International — which became the most successful black-owned label of the ’70s.



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