Ray Peterson and Winston “Wayne Powers” Cogswell – known together as The Mark II – will be among the nine inductees in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame’s class of 2014.
“It’s a great honor,” said Peterson, who now lives in Cranston, after this year’s class was announced at the Hope Artiste Village complex in Pawtucket on Feb. 7.
Peterson and Cogswell, who lives in Warwick, found their greatest success with an instrumental single dubbed “Night Theme.” The song was the first released by Wye Records, the label the two men started along with the late Kenneth Dutton.
The track featured the men playing a four-handed piano. It was a hit on the national charts, and has since been covered by a range of artists.
Cogswell and Peterson began their partnership after Cogswell returned to Warwick from Tennessee, where he moved in 1954. In Memphis, Cogswell befriended Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, and began working in multiple capacities, including as a songwriter, session guitarist and producer, alongside such renowned artists as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Medrick “Rick” Bellaire, the Hall of Fame’s vice chair and archive director, said Cogswell was “literally present at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.” He also noted that Cogswell went on to success as a Nashville songwriter before returning to Rhode Island.
“It was my thrill of a lifetime,” said Cogswell. “I am so grateful, and so lucky that I was always at the right place at the right time.”
It was upon coming back north that Cogswell met Peterson, a pianist and composer, and began a new partnership. Bellaire said Wye Records served as an important platform for many local artists.
The men who made up The Mark II still play and write music, and are expected to perform Sunday, May 2 at the Hope complex as part of the two-day Hall of Fame concert event and induction ceremony.
Joining The Mark II in the 2014 Hall of Fame class are Tavares, Duke Robillard, Cheryl Wheeler, Paul Gonsalves, The Castaleers, Freddie Scott, Francis Madeira and Randy Hien. They will be honored with permanent fixtures in the Hall of Fame Museum at the Hope complex outlining their contributions to the state’s musical heritage.
Dr. Robert Billington, the Hall of Fame’s chair, said the nonprofit organization, which was formed in 2011, sets a high standard for entry.
“What you need to do is reach for the stars,” he said. Inductees from this and prior years, he said, have “earned the right to be in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.”
Those honored in the Hall of Fame are musicians, educators and industry professionals who have made significant contributions to both the national and local music scenes.
Steve Smith of Steve Smith & the Nakeds, who was inducted in 2013, spoke of what it has meant to him to be part of such a prestigious group.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to be part of the Hall of Fame,” he said. “This is a great organization.”
This year’s induction ceremony is set for May 3 and May 4, with festivities to be expanded this year.
The first day, a Saturday, will feature an evening performance by Tavares and a tribute to Freddie Scott led by Rhode Island’s Mac Odom at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Washington Street in Providence.
The second day will include the induction ceremony itself, as well as a concert featuring The Mark II, Cheryl Wheeler, Duke Robillard and a tribute to Paul Gonsalves led by world-renowned saxophonist Dan Moretti. Sunday’s events are being held at the Hope complex, which also includes The Met.
Tickets for the Saturday concert at Lupo’s are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, or $35 for Gold Circle seating. Tickets for Sunday’s event at The Met are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The unveiling of the inductee exhibits is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit www.rhodeislandmusichalloffame.com. Tickets will be available online starting Feb. 25.