Reporting Brian Ives
This weekend, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, which took place April 18 at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre, airs on HBO. The event is always a long affair — but it always has great moments. This year’s was better than most, and whittling it down to five was no easy feat. But if you’re looking to just watch selected highlights here’s a handful.
“Blah, blah, blah. Blah blah blah blah blah!”
That’s not a placeholder that we forgot to replace, that’s a (partial) transcription of Alex Lifeson’s acceptance speech during Rush‘s induction. You know how on The Muppets, when Beaker speaks, it’s all “Me me me me me me!” Alex’s speech was like that. It was a comic masterpiece and not to be missed. Also great: Dave Grohl’s speech about the band, which included him ribbing Rolling Stone Magazine about not covering the band more often. (Indeed, when RS boss Jann Wenner greeted the audience from the stage earlier in the night, he was welcomed by boos and catcalls from jilted Rush fans.) Also, Grohl, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and Foo Fighters/Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz performed Rush’s “2112: Overture” dressed as Rush from 2112‘s album cover — another moment not to be missed. Lots of artists were honored, but it was Rush’s night. Read more on Rush’s induction.
Most of the presenters and guest performers weren’t kept a secret, but when Oprah Winfrey appeared onstage to present Quincy Jones, the Staples Center went nuts. And as anyone who has seen her show knows: Oprah gives a good speech. She spoke movingly about the man and his legacy, noting that Quincy Jones “defines and defies the word ‘legend.’” She told him, ““You just have the most generous soul of anybody I know.” Honorable mention goes to Usher, for a spot-on take on Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” (produced by Jones), mimicking the original pre-MTV-era music video. Read more about Quincy Jones’ induction.
“Lou Adler’s not a black guy, man!”
Impresario Lou Adler was inducted as a “non-performer,” along with Qunicy Jones. And while seeing a behind-the-scenes guy getting honored — even one whose resume includes working on Carole King and The Rocky Horror Picture Show – might not be “must-see TV,” it was one of the night’s highlights because he was presented by Cheech & Chong. Tommy Chong commented, “The thing that really makes me feel good is that he’s one of the first black guys ever to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.” His flabbergasted partner replied, “He’s not a black guy, man!” To which Chong quipped, “You ever see how he dresses, man? He’s like a rapper!” They also joked about sitting in his office and looking at the gold records on his wall. “Forget the gold records, look what’s on his desk! (after which Cheech mimicked snorting)” Read more on Lou Adler’s induction.
Seattle hearts Heart
Soundgarden‘s Chris Cornell made a great speech about Heart, watching Ann and Nancy Wilson perform with the original members of the band was cool, but nothing matched the face-melting version of “Barracuda,” featuring Cornell, Alice In Chains‘ Jerry Cantrell and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready adding extra guitar thunder. Read more about Heart’s induction.
The show-closing jam actually rocked
Some years, the show-closing jam is a mess with dozens of musicians on stage making an aural mess. Sometimes they decide to skip the final jam altogether. Happily, this year’s show-closer was a righteous one, with a mind-blowing array of artists performing an epic version of Robert Johnson’s blues standard “Crossroads.” Rush, the Wilson sisters, Public Enemy‘s Chuck D (read about Public Enemy’s induction), Grohl, Hawkins, John Fogerty, Gary Clark Jr., Chris Cornell and DMC (of Run-DMC) teamed up for a jam to remember. And while the audience tried to figure out what they’d just seen, the show ended. Read more on the all-star closing jam.
Catch more from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony when it airs Saturday May 18 at 9 p.m. on HBO, and check out more of our on-the-scene coverage of the event here.
Watch our recent Radio.com Inside Out episode on 2013’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction class, below.
(All images via Kevin Winter/Getty Images)