Rock around the clock: 6-hour inductions don’t disappoint despite a few no-shows
On the bill to induct Guns N Roses, last night Green Day kicked off the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland’s Public Hall, with a bang. During a rousing rendition of “Letter Bomb,” singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong urged the audience to stand up, shouting, “This is fucking rock ’n’ roll!” The edgy energy was infectious as even Rock Hall CEO Terry Steward let an expletive fly in his introductory comments proclaiming, “Cleveland fucking rocks!” The celebration’s start inspired an enthusiasm that not only lasted, but grew, over the next six hours.
The energy continued as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill arrived to induct bluesman Freddie King as an early influence. Joe Bonamassa and Derek Trucks joined Gibbons and Hill for a rigorous jam on a couple of King tracks. John Mellencamp gave a rambling, but heartfelt and often amusing speech, as he inducted Donovan and then joined the Scottish folk troubadour for a great rendition of “Season of the Witch.”
Better Midler teared up as she inducted the late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and praised her “sexy mama voice.” “”She could make a trip to the grocery store seem like a night at the Casbah,” said Midler. Sara Bareilles nailed Nyro’s “Stoney End,” delivering a soulful and passionate rendition of the track.
While Faces’ singer Rod Stewart stayed home with the flu, thereby putting an anticipated Faces’ reunion on hold, the group, which was inducted by Stevie Van Zandt along with the Small Faces, fared well without him as Ronnie Wood and other former members of Faces and Small Faces performed with Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall in his place. “This is not the easiest gig,” Hucknall admitted, but he had the capacity crowd on its feet during “Stay With Me.”
Chuck D and LL Cool J then took the stage to induct the Beastie Boys. Each had a great story about the support the band gave them. Chuck D recalled touring with the group in 1987 and said they made him realize hip-hop is “a craft and not a hustle.” LL Cool J said he initially thought they were “a bunch of punks” but said they played his demo and helped him get his first record deal. Since Beastie Adam “MCA” Yauch is still recovering from cancer, only Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz were in attendance. They didn’t perform but Kid Rock and the Roots teamed up with Mixmaster Mike and Travie McCoy for a medley of Beastie tunes.
GNR frontman Axl Rose was another no-show (he wrote a long letter explaining why he wouldn’t be attending the ceremony) but his bandmates did fine without him as singer Myles Kennedy hit all the high notes in “Sweet Child O Mine” and “Paradise City.”
And finally, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted by comedian Chris Rock, who recalled seeing an early show by accident. He cracked a few good jokes and then let the band do the talking. Bassist Flea broke down a few times as he recalled band’s early trials and tribulations. The band played tracks such as “By the Way” and “Give It Away” before ushering in other attendees (like George Clinton) and presenters to jam on a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” that, while a bit testosterone-driven and cacophonous, proved a fitting close to the event.