Watch 8 Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers Perform ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’
Oct 12, 2020
11:31 am PDT
In 2008, NPR Music’s Bob Boilen began hosting Tiny Desk Concerts at his office space in Washington D.C. initiating a series of live performances that continues through the present. While COVID-19 has forced the series to go remote with Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, those pandemic altered sessions have proven in most cases to be just as intimate and personal as the ones held at Boilen’s desk.
The obscure setup, which typically includes NPR staff members closely surrounding Boilen’s desk, usually stirs interaction between musician and audience. Among the most memorable Tiny Desk sessions are those performed by legendary members of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. While there’s plenty to debate about who has and has not been enshrined in the Hall, there’s no arguing over the induction of the ones who have played Tiny Desk Concerts.
Click here to explore all of the NPR Music videos in the LBLVA, including Tiny Desk Concerts and Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, and scroll on to watch eight examples of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees performing live Tiny Desk concerts.
Bob Weir was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead. The guitarist’s Tiny Desk Concert was a performance by Bob Weir and Wolf Bros featuring drummer Jay Lane and bassist Don Was. They started with “Only A River,” which Weir recorded for his 2016 solo album, Blue Mountain and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” The trio was then joined by harpist Mikaela Davis for Dead favorites “Bird Song” and “Ripple.”
Renowned vocalist Mavis Staples entered the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers alongside her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples, brother Pervis Staples and sisters Cleotha Staples and Yvonne Staples. For her 2010 Tiny Desk Concert, Staples appeared in support of her Jeff Tweedy-produced album, You Are Not Alone, and performed the album’s “Only the Lord Knows” and the title track. The set concluded with The Staple Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There.”
Identified by the Rock And Roll Hall Fame as “The groovy forefathers of Southern soul,” Booker T. & the M.G.’s were led by acclaimed organist Booker T. Jones. The 1992 inductee brought his Hammond B3 organ to Boilen’s desk in 2011 and performed the instrumental standout recorded by Booker T. & the M.G.’s when Jones was just 17-years-old. Jones demonstrated the versatility of the B-3 and performed his blues standard co-write “Born Under A Bad Sign.” Jones’ solo set concluded with “Down In Memphis” from his 2011 album The Road From Memphis.
Psychedelic funk rocker George Clinton was one of 15 members of Parliament-Funkadelic inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997. Clinton was part of a nine-person collective that tightly fit around Boilen’s desk back in 2018. Clinton led the ensemble through P-Funk favorites “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On,” “One Nation Under A Groove” and “Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker).”
Singer-songwriter David Crosby went into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1991 as a member of The Byrds. He was inducted again in 1997 as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash. For his Tiny Desk Concert, Crosby was backed by The Lighthouse Band, which consists of Michael League of Snarky Puppy, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis and was named after Crosby’s 2016 solo album, Lighthouse which the musicians contributed to. Crosby started with “What Are Their Names,” a song Crosby released on his 1971 solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, followed by “Look In The Their Eyes,” which appeared on Lighthouse. League then stars on “Other Half Rule,” from David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band’s 2018 album Here If You Listen. They close with Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” which Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on their 1970 album, Déjà Vu.
As noted above, Crosby, Stills & Nash joined the Hall in 1997, the same year Stephen Stills (and Neil Young) were inducted as members of Buffalo Springfield. That left Graham Nash as the only single-inducted member of CSN. Nash joined Crosby, Stills (and Young) in as a two-time inductee in 2010 when he was honored as a member of The Hollies. For his Tiny Desk Concert, Nash and guitarist Shane Fontayne played The Hollies hit “Bus Stop,” as well as a pair of songs from Nash’s 2016 solo album, The Path Tonight, “Myself At Last” and the title track.
Singer-songwriter Randy Newman entered the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in the class of 2013. “I think Randy Newman is a national treasure,” Boilen wrote when Newman performed a Tiny Desk Concert in 2017. According to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Newman is a, “teller of tales, spinner of yarns and satirist of just about everything.” Newman’s session featured four songs from his 2017 album that remain relevant as ever, “Putin,” “She Chose Me,” “It’s A Jungle Out There” and “Wandering Boy.”
Yusuf / Cat Stevens became a Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer in 2014. After rising to fame in the early-1970s, by the end of the decade the singer-songwriter would quit the music business and convert to Islam devoting his life helping the Muslim community. He returned to music in the early-2000s and has released five albums since coming back, including the recently-issued Tea for the Tillerman². For his Tiny Desk Concert, Yusuf / Cat Stevens performed “I Was Raised In Babylon” and “Doors” off his 2014 album, Tell ‘Em I’m Gone alongside his classic’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Father & Son.”