Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame: The Speeches & Sounds Of 2017's Induction Ceremony
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:41:38
One of the biggest nights of the music calendar happened at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night. The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony played out in full force, with some stellar performances, stirring speeches and classic moments that added to the gravity of the event, which is now in it's 32nd year.
The ceremony began with a tribute to Chuck Berry, who died three weeks ago at the age of 90. Berry was the first inductee to the Rock Hall in 1986. Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone magazine and one of the creators of the Rock Hall addressed the congregated artists, telling them "No one in this room would be here tonight if not for this man." A video montage that followed added to the weight of the event as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Keith Richards all paid tribute to the artist they simply called 'Chuck'. The first performance of the ceremony came from the Electric Light Orchestra who played the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony before launching into Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven".
Throughout the rest of the night Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, and Pearl Jam thanked their fans and managers and played a range of their respective hits, showing exactly why they were held in such high regard. Tupac Shakur was the focus of an earnest tribute from Snoop Dogg, and the long-estranged singer of Journey, Steve Perry, hugged his former bandmates, but fell short of the reunion performance which the fans had dreamed of.
In a night, mainly clear of the usual contentious score-settling and snark, the clearest statement of dissent came from legendary folk singer Joan Baez. The sole woman inductee made a reference to President Trump while singing "Sweet Low, Sweet Chariot".
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam also made his political sentiments clear. "Climate change is real," Mr. Vedder said. "We cannot be the generation that history will look back upon and wonder why they didn't do everything humanly possible to solve the biggest crisis in our time."
David Letterman hummed a couple of Pearl Jam songs and declared, "I can't tell you what an honor and a privilege it is for me to be out of the house, honest to God," before standing in for Neil Young who was slated to induct the band.
One of the funniest, most sober reminders of the collective age of inductees came from Yes', Rick Wakeman. The 67-year old cape-wearing keyboard wizard reminisced about sneaking out to a strip club as a young man, only to meet his father. He then thanked event organizers for letting his old band play early, before sharing a colorful, detailed account of a recent prostate exam.
Nile Rodgers, who had been famously outspoken ahead of the event, addressing the previous eleven times he had been nominated and snubbed by the committee, seemed totally openhearted during his speech, and thanked a long list of artists he had worked with, assuming role of producer rather than star.
Before an all-star musical tribute to Tupac Shakur, which included an Alicia Keys piano medley of his hits followed by cameos from YG, T.I., and Treach of Naughty By Nature, Snoop Dogg did the inducting honors with intimate stories from the days of Death Row Records. He shared the details of his first meeting Tupac, whom he dubbed "the greatest rapper of all time," at the wrap party for the film "Poetic Justice" in the early '90s. "Pac passed me my first blunt," Snoop said. "That's right, Tupac is the one that got Snoop Dogg smoking blunts. I was a Zig-Zag man before that. We became very good friends quickly thereafter."
So, another year closed on the ceremony and another round of stars entered the heavens of ever-lasting, and deserving accolade. We can only wait for next year with the hopes that all artists and speakers are so warm and receptive to the spirit of celebration and rock 'n' roll.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff