By Brian Ives

“My name is Chris Cornell, and I’m here to induct my hometown heroes, Heart.” That’s how the Soundgarden frontman started his Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction speech.

Cornell continued by saying, “Let us now praise sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.” before mentioning the rest of the original band. “Together these people made magic.”

“It never occured to us that Ann and Nancy Wilson were women existing in a world dominated by men,” Cornell said. “They blasted any sexist barriers in front of them.” He pointed out that Heart put the Pacific Northwest on the map “in a major way.”

“Before that, no one thought that rock stars could come from Seattle,” he said. “Heart was important to us, not just as musicians, but as proof that Seattle could produce something beautiful and rocking.”

Cornell continued: “When you first heard the great albums that these men and women made, you had the sense that here was a band that knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going.  They naturally rocked hard, and their folkier songs seemed to show a genuine understanding of folk music.  Heart felt in touch with their musical heroes in a way that is authentic to me.”

He praised Ann Wilson’s voice, calling it “a unique vocal force of nature.”

“I’ve sat in the living room with Ann and Nancy Wilson, it’s some of the best live singing I’ve ever heard,” Cornell said. “As a vocalist, she is one of the few vocal role models that I look to…When these sisters sing together, its unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.”

Adding, “And Nancy is an amazing guitar goddess.”

A visibly moved Nancy Wilson said, “It is tremendously beaufiul to be in this eagles nest of tremendous music. Our music is about the enduring power of love. We came from an era where women normally did not rock and we weren’t supposed to be leaders. These days women are ferorcious leaders from the boardrooms to the bedrooms!”

Nancy also thanked their children (hers and Ann’s) who have forgiven them for being on the road so much. She closed by saying, “We’re not finished rocking yet. we’re looking straight into the future, and we say, ‘Turn it up!'”

Ann then spoke, “We came from Seattle from a time when it wasn’t the center of the rock universe, which is hard to believe  when you see the talent on stage with us later.”

She also thanked the other original band members, all onstage with the sisters, although they aren’t in the band anymore.

Ann continued, “I have the wrong gender, the wrong DNA, the wrong hometown to have a successful career in music, but some of the best things are the wrong things.”  She closed by expressing gratitude for the band’s career and stressed, “I never, ever, take it for granted.”

The original lineup then performed “Crazy On You,” followed by “Dreamboat Annie,” featuring Ann playing a flute solo.  Nancy then traded her acoustic guitar for an electric, and although a player of her caliber needs no support, for “Barracuda” she was joined by a guitar army of Seattle royalty – Cornell, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains.

Although it’s taken a few more years than it should have, the wait was worth it to see members of  the original band, along with members of three of the most vital bands of the ’90s (all of whom still tour and play huge venues) rocking out to one of the most iconic hard rock songs of all time.

Catch more from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony when it airs Saturday May 18 at 9 pm ET/PT
on HBO.

Watch our recent Inside Out episode on 2013’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction class, below.


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