Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Donna Summer, Albert King, Randy Newman plus non-performers Lou Adler and Quincy Jones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night (Thursday) at L.A.'s Nokia Theater.
Newman kicked off the ceremony by performing "I Love L.A.," with help from Jackson Browne and John Fogerty. Don Henley inducted Newman, calling his voice "perfect to convey the humor of the characters that populate his songs.” Newman then performed "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" solo and was joined by Henley for "I'm Dead, But I Don't Know It."
Cheech and Chong inducted producer, label head and music impresario Adler, who spoke about his first encounters with the stoner comedy duo, as well as the two artists he's best known for producing, The Mama's and the Papa's and Carole King. King then performed "So Far Away."
Using his guitar to illustrate the styles of a number of blues greats and citing a list of guitarists who had borrowed Albert King's riffs for their own songs, John Mayer inducted the late blues singer and guitarist. He said that although he started playing the guitar in 1991, just a year before King died, "Albert King's influence is forever embedded in my playing." King's daughter and granddaughter accepted the award. Gary Clark Junior then played King's "Oh, Pretty Woman" and was joined by Mayer and organist Booker T. Jones on "Born Under a Bad Sign."
Kelly Rowland stepped in for Christina Aguilera, who was ill, to induct the late Donna Summer, whose husband of 32 years, Bruce Sudano, accepted the award flanked by their three daughters. He said that although she was not very big on awards and didn't display any in their home, Summer would have been proud of this one. He called the evening "bittersweet, for obvious reasons." Jennifer Hudson performed Summer's hits "Bad Girls" and "Last Dance."
Oprah Winfrey, a surprise participant, inducted Quincy Jones, saying that she was almost rendered speechless trying to describe what he had done for her career by casting her in the movie The Color Purple. Jones himself wasn't rendered speechless, giving a lengthy summary of a lengthy career that has stretched from the swing era to today. He urged people to travel and expand their horizons. Usher sang Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" in a tribute of its producer.
Spike Lee and Harry Belafonte inducted Public Enemy, Lee telling the story of how their "Fight the Power" became the theme song of his movie Do the Right Thing. Leader Chuck D gave everyone a chance to speak, including Flava Flav, who made the most of the opportunity a la Quincy Jones. When Chuck finally got the mic he said, "For all of you that see us here and say, 'There goes the neighborhood,' don't forget, we all came from the blues." They performed "Bring the Noise," with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on guitar, "911 Is a Joke" and "Fight the Power."
Soundgarden's Chris Cornell inducted Heart, explaining how they were local heroes in Seattle when he grew up. "They were not just beautiful and rockin', but something
that the rest of the world could care about." The band's original lineup were all on hand for their induction. They performed "Crazy on You," "Dreamboat Annie" and, joined by Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, "Barracuda."
Rush's long-awaited induction got by far the loudest cheers from the house. Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins inducted them with speeches that seemed at times close to a roast. Grohl got more serious to say that they'd "stayed true to themselves, no matter how uncool they may have seemed to anyone." Rush's drummer Neil Peart and singer-bassist Geddy Lee gave speeches that were alternately funny and poignant, but guitarist Alex Lifeson topped them with a "speech" that used only the phrase "blah blah blah," while he acted out the events leading up to their induction -- a brilliant piece of performance art. Their actual performance began with Grohl on guitar, Hawkins on drums and producer Nick Raskulinecz on bass doing the instrumental "2112 Overture, Part I." Rush then took the stage for "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit of Radio."
The evening ended with a blues jam on "Crossroads," featuring all of Rush, Chuck D, Run DMC's DMC, Fogerty, Clark Junior, Cornell, Morello, Hawkins and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.