The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 32nd annual induction Friday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Here are the highlights of the five-hour event.
Despite all the speculation, Steve Perry did not sing with Journey. But during his speech he did thank the band’s current vocalist, Arnel Pineda, for singing his heart out. The two singers met for the first time backstage, and Pineda tweeted out a picture of the pair together. Guitarist Neal Schon thanked Perry for being “one in a million” and dedicated the band’s performance of “Lights” to him. They did that song with 1970s-era members Gregg Rolie and Aynsley Dunbar. The current lineup also did "Separate Ways (World Apart)" and "Don't Stop Believin'."
David Letterman got plenty of laughs filling in for the ailing Neil Young as the inductor for Pearl Jam. He joked that in 1988 he met most of the people in the band when they were all members of Mother Love Bone and that “tonight the entire balcony is filled with former Pearl Jam drummers.” Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder gave the longest speeches. Gossard thanked just about everyone in their road crew and management, while Vedder used his time to say that “Climate change is real. That is not fake news.” He added that, “I feel like we’re halfway there to deserving an accolade of this stature.” The band played “Alive” with Ten drummer Dave Krusen, as well as “Given to Fly” and “Better Man” with current drummer Matt Cameron. They were also joined by a number of the other guitarists from the night to play Young's “Rockin’ in the Free World” at the end of the night.
Yes were inducted by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush, whose speeches were quickly forgotten once keyboardist Rick Wakeman opened his mouth. His hysterical and at times filthy speech included comments on the mic stand (“Does this thing go up? Story of my life.”); his first meaningful sexual experience (“It wasn’t very good. It never is when you’re on your own) and ended with a not safe for work discussion of the prostate exam he had on Monday. The group played “Roundabout” with Geddy Lee on bass. For “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” Steve Howe switched from guitar to play one of the late Chris Squire’s Rickenbacker basses.
Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood represented Electric Light Orchestra. Dhani Harrison, son of Lynne’s friend George Harrison, inducted the group with the story of his first concert, when he saw ELO with his father in 1986. He added that in one of the last conversations he had with his father, George told him to seek out “the space wizard” –- Lynne -– to complete his final solo album. Lynne said that he’d watched “hundreds” of artists get inducted into the hall over the years and said “I wondered if I’d ever get one.” His touring version of ELO opened up the night’s performances with a tribute to Chuck Berry by playing “Roll Over Beethoven.” They also did “Evil Woman” and "Mr. Blue Sky.”
Rapper Tupac Shakur was inducted posthumously by Snoop Dogg, who remarked that he couldn’t believe “it's been 21 years since we’ve heard from Tupac.” He revealed that Tupac was the first person to ever get him to smoke a blunt and told a funny story about parasailing together in South America. Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, T.I. and YG all did songs from Tupac’s catalog.
Joan Baez was inducted by Jackson Browne. Baez gave a well-received speech where she joked about her somewhat unlikely induction and admitted that many in the audience didn’t know her. She added that, “My granddaughter had no clue who I was until I took her backstage to a Taylor Swift concert.” Baez also made pointed comments about today’s political climate and said that people needed to band together to “repeal and replace brutality.” She performed the spiritual “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” as well as Woody’s Guthrie’s “Deportees” and The Band's “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Nile Rodgers was given the Award for Musical Excellence by Pharrell Williams, and Rodgers got choked up during his speech when he spoke about collaborating with other artists. He admitted that “when people work with me, they think I’m the boss. But every record I do I just join [their] band.”
As part of the memorial segment Lenny Kravitz, with his band and a gospel choir, did two Prince songs: “When Doves Cry” and “The Cross.”
Highlights from the ceremony will air on HBO on April 29th.
Source: Premiere photo credits - iHM archive