Recap | Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction :: 04.10.14 :: Barclays Center :: Brooklyn, NY

This past Thursday, an impressive array of talent was amassed at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY to celebrate the 29th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The hall started in 1985 but the museum was built in Cleveland ten years later. It is “a center for Rock and Roll history all through the ages.” Artists are eligible for inclusion in the Hall 25 years after the release of their first recording. Votes are cast from the 700 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. For the fourth time in its history, the ceremony was open to the public and the Barclay’s Center sold-out. At six minutes after 7 p.m., Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Chairman Jann Wenner stated, "We are thrilled to be here tonight in Brooklyn." Wenner went on to say, "As Keith Richards has said so often, at this age we're thrilled to be anywhere. We're here to celebrate our youth, our music and that which keeps us forever young. Rock and roll offers hope and passion and joy and courage and love, a way to understand the world around us, and for so many of us, a way of life." He was also thrilled to share that the event would occur in Brooklyn for the first time, “Brooklyn is so rich in the history of rock and roll.”


The first inductees of the night were the first managers ever to be inducted. Respected manager and artist, Peter Asher, clad in a purple suit, explained how both managers guided two legendary bands from anonymity in different ways. He recounted old stories of how Epstein discovered The Beatles and Oldham had steered the early Rolling Stones. Asher expressed how Oldham understood the youth culture and was a promotional genius of the day. Both shared the love of music and were prescient ambitious managers. Epstein died in 1967 and Oldham skipped the ceremony, so no one was present to accept the honor.


Peter Gabriel, the English former front man for Genesis, was honored for his impressive solo work. Known for such classics as “Solsbury Hill,” “Shock The Monkey,” “Biko” and “Big Time,” the multiple-Grammy winner is also well known for creating some of the most memorable and iconic music videos to date including “Sledgehammer.” Gabriel was the only performer to share a song before his induction during the show and it served as the unofficial commencement of the proceedings. “Digging in the Dirt,” although less spectacle than his usual live show, showcased TV screens around Gabriel of his head – and the vocals reminded fans of his fiery, upbeat and powerful prowess. Then Chris Martin of Coldplay shared a funny fake edition of the “Book of Genesis” and reminded us that Peter Gabriel’s first four solo albums were self-titled. When the label asked him about it and he said, “So” – which went on to be the title of his 1986 smash record that sold five million copies. Martin joined Gabriel for "Washing of the Water" before "In Your Eyes" (the song which helped John Cusack get his girlfriend back in the film Say Anything) energized the entire crowd with a uniquely powerful vocal appearance by long-time Gabriel collaborator, Youssou N'Dour.


KISS have been a mainstay in rock and roll for 40 years, since their make-up, marketing and Kiss Army took over the masses in the 1970’s. They have released the quintessential party anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” one of the first rock ballads with “Beth” and songs like “Detroit Rock City” and “Strutter,” while selling over 100 million records worldwide and earning 28 gold albums. Despite revolving members in recent years, the band has remained relevant through its storied catalog and history – or “kisstory.” They have been called the band that hit the audience so hard they couldn’t forget them.

The band had waited 15 years for induction and this was not without major drama and in- fighting. The Hall would only induct the original four members (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley) and this prompted speculation as to which incarnation would perform together as the band currently tours with a different lineup. Stanley was upset that not all Kiss members were inducted, citing the Grateful Dead as precedent when they got to decide who would be inducted from their vast family. Gene Simmons has explained the band’s success, “Everyone needs a hero in their life, whether it’s Superman, Santa Claus or KISS.” Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morella inducted his heroes in a strong and assertive speech where he outlined his definition of what it takes to get enshrined. He claimed that the iconic badass band could muster the test of the big three: impact, influence and awesomeness. It was a poignant moment when Gene asked for applause for all the band members that were not on the stage and how they were “extending the legacy” while still asserting, “we wouldn’t be here without the fantastic four.” MP> Stanley, always critical of the hall, said, “this is a special night for fans – this is vindication!” Ace Frehley, unceremoniously dumped from the band years ago, due to addiction issues, shared a hilarious story of how will power doesn’t work, “try using will power when you have diarrhea.” In true rock star fashion, all four inductees wore sunglasses inside – prohibiting Ace from reading his acceptance speech because his were not prescription – but reminding us that they were going to “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame every night and party every day.”


Englishman Yusuf (Cat Stevens) is one of the greatest songwriters in history. In the 1970’s he was a tour de force and released multi-platinum selling albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat, as well as the iconic soundtrack for the film Harold and Maude. Best known for his smash hits about compassion and enlightenment, “Peace Train” and “Wild World,” he also possesses a vast catalog and penned “The First Cut is the Deepest,” which proved to be a top 10 song for four different artists. During his heyday of fortune he had stated, “Music was my religion and I was devoted to it” but he abruptly left the trappings of fame and his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.

Art Garfunkel delivered an eloquent and sometimes very funny expose on Cat's melodic and songwriting brilliance and even quipped, “This guy is better than Paul Simon.” Yusuf delivered a lengthy speech where he thanked everyone who made an impression on him – including Bob Dylan. He mentioned how the best pop song ever written was Beethoven’s 9th symphony and that when he said “Morning Has Broken” he always thought of his mother’s voice. He concluded his speech in usual wry fashion by stating, “I’m not the best of you, but looking around, I’m not the worst either, I don’t drink or smoke or sleep with anyone but my wife – so my induction was a brave decision by the hall.”

With an acoustic guitar and Paul Shaffer’s CBS ensemble serving as the house band, Yusuf delved into inspired versions of “Father and Son” and “Wild World.” Interestingly, he changed the lyric “girl” to “child” during “Wild World.” Before “Peace Train,” where he was joined by a large chorus, he stated, “I’ve written many songs about leaving but this one is about waiting for a train.” It was a special moment to see a man so maligned due to his religious choices, that he almost didn’t attend the ceremony at all, to share a song about peace and love. He left the stage after directing, “Keep the Peace!”


The 11-time Grammy Winner was an unstoppable force in the 1970’s. Ronstadt has released over 30 studio albums, charted 38 Billboard Hot 100 singles, with 21 reaching the top 40, 10 in the top 10, three at #2, and "You’re No Good" at #1. The funny and humble Glenn Frey inducted Ronstadt and stated how she was instrumental in forming the Eagles. Unfortunately, due to Parkinson’s disease, she was unable to accept her award in person. However, she made an impression on many including five of the most talented women in rock and roll who decided to collaborate in order to pay proper tribute to the songstress.

First, Carrie Underwood led “Different Drum,” Emmylou Harris led “Blue Bayou” (Roy Orbison cover), Sheryl Crow led “You’re No Good” with Glenn Frey on harmony, Stevie Nicks led “It’s So Easy” (Buddy Holly cover) and everyone shared the limelight for The Everly Brothers's cover “When Will I Be Loved." The set was a love-in with lots of accolades being showered on this woman with the gifted pipes. Nicks claimed, “She was the heart of the matter.” Harris added, “I’m inspired by her” and Raitt summed it up succinctly, “Linda put great songwriting on the map.”


In a controversial move, the E Street Band was inducted years after their front man, Bruce Springsteen. Many felt that the band should not have been inducted separately as other backing bands (eg. The Wailers) are not inducted separately. However, due to rules (the band is not listed on the Bruce Springsteen records) the band finally received its well- deserved honor. Naturally, The Boss inducted the band in a poignant, historic and comedic anecdotal journey back in time. He said, “The E Street band is a dance, idea, wish, refuge, home, dream, distraction and finally a band, funny because only one member actually lived on E Street.” Springsteen, clad in a tuxedo, was gracious and explained how important the band was to his success, “The narrative you tell together is greater than the individual.” The acceptance speeches were a bit of a disaster. Each of the 11 members was supposed to speak for only 30 seconds, but instead the acceptance segment bogged down the ceremony for over 45 minutes. Bruce led the band through “The River," “E Street Shuffle” and an extended “Kitty's Back,” which gave virtually every member an opportunity to jam.


The most successful duo in rock history did not disappoint on this night. They are best known for their six No. 1 hits "Rich Girl," "Kiss On My List," "Private Eyes," "I Can’t Go For That,” "Maneater," and "Out of Touch," as well as 29 other chart hits on the US Billboard Hot 100, seven platinum albums and six RIAA gold albums. The ironic success wasn’t lost on Oates who explained that the soul band initially had a tough time getting on white radio. Always tongue and cheek, Oates has stated, “I am the most underrated and highly paid background singer in the history of rock n roll.”

Questlove, also from Philadelphia, inducted the band and showed off his knowledge of music and the famed duo. He stopped at times to sing parts of Hall and Oates music in surprisingly stellar falsetto. He said, “They were pop stars that stayed true to their soul roots” and for one night this is “The Hall and Oates of Fame.” Hall and Oates literally went to the podium at the same exact moment, in an attempt to accept the award at the same time – emblematic of the respect they’ve had for each other as teammates for decades. Hall joked to start, “Lucky for you, there’s only two of us,” in reference to the lengthy E Street acceptance debacle. He also explained how they were the first homegrown Philadelphia band to ever be inducted – he didn’t say it as a source of pride – but to serve notice of all the quality bands that have been overlooked.

There was a major technical difficulty (no sound in the monitors) when they started to play “She’s Gone,” but it was soon remedied and the guys lit a spark like it was 1985 for an inspired performance that included “I Can’t Go For That” and “You Make My Dreams.” The duo, previously at the Hall ceremony to induct Smokey Robinson and the Temptations, proved why they were Hall of Fame worthy. Oates exclaimed the importance, “Music is the most important US export to the rest of the world.”


Nirvana “captured the moment and excitement of the time” and in the early '90s there was no band that was more enigmatic or explosive. It wasn’t without struggle. Even drummer Dave Grohl stated, “The greatest band in the world and a total fucking train wreck.” Brilliant front man and songwriting genius, Kurt Cobain was a deity mired in pain and coming to terms with his commercial success. “I’m always in pain, so it adds anger to the music.” For those living under a rock, one might question how a band that released only three albums could be accepted in the Hall. Firstly, The Sex Pistols are in the Hall and only released one album. Despite releasing only three full-length studio albums in their seven-year career, Nirvana has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and important rock bands of the modern era with songs including “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Lithium,” “About A Girl” and “Come As You Are.”

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe delivered the induction speech. "They were singular, loud and melodic and deeply original. And that voice, that voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you. Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders, from the fags and the fat girls to the shy nerds and the Goth kids in Tennessee and Kentucky, for the rockers to the awkward to the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community," Stipe said. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Courtney Love were on stage to accept the award. Grohl gave credit to all five previous Nirvana drummers in a classy tribute. The long-time feud between Love and Grohl was shelved for the night as she gave him a big hug and called this her “family.”

Joan Jett joined the surviving members for a raucous "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Lorde took over to lead a punchy "All Apologies." Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth joined for “Aneurysm” but the highlight was Annie "St. Vincent" Clark on “Lithium,” which tore the house down. St. Vincent said before the show, “It’s an honor and privilege. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s a bit melancholy due to the gravity of the situation. I’m gonna enjoy the time space continuum.”

Nirvana is explained on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s site: "they started a rock revolution" and "remain an enduring influence and challenge," before declaring them "proof that the right band with the right noise can change the world.”

And, the rest, as they say, is rock and roll history.

The induction ceremony will premiere on HBO on Saturday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET.

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[Published on: 4/15/14]

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