The 29th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Thursday night. Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, the E Street Band, Linda Ronstadt, and Nirvana were all inducted on a special night full of emotional speeches and special guest appearances and collaborations.
Peter Asher kicked off the night by celebrating two of rock's most respected managers, both playing a pivotal role in the British invasion of music to the United States. Brian Epstein, manager for the Beatles from 1961 to 1967, and Andrew Loog Oldham, manager for The Rolling Stones from 1963 to 1967, were honored with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The night's first performer was former Genesis vocalist and solo artist Peter Gabriel. He gave a stirring speech with saying, "Dream big, and let your imagination guide you, even if you end up dressing as a flower or a sexually transmitted disease." It was an obvious nod to his early days in Genesis where he would dress in outlandish outfits. Gabriel finished by saying, "In the end, the core of what you are and where you are, is where your heart is." He performed "Digging In The Dirt," "Washing of the Water" (sharing vocals with Chris Martin), and his 1986 hit song "In Your Eyes," with help from Youssou N'Dour. Bassist Tony Levin and guitarist David Rhodes rounded out Peter Gabriel's band.
Rage Against The Machine's guitarist Tom Morello gave a passionate speech about what it was like being a Kiss fan growing up. "As a 15 year old I remember telling a bully, 'You can kiss my kiss-loving ass.'" Another memorable line was when Morello suggested renaming the event to, "Tonight, it's the Rock and Roll All Night and Party Every Day Hall of Fame." It got a favorable response from the Kiss Army fans, some of which were in full face makeup.
Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Ace Frehely, and Paul Stanley gave brief speeches, with Stanley's holding the most weight. "Fans don’t want to be spoon fed by a handful of people's choices," said Stanley. "The people pay for tickets, the people buy albums, the people who nominate do not. Let’s not forget that these are the people who make it all possible. We just benefit from it." He thanked the fans and said it was because of their support over the years why the band was standing up there. Unfortunately, to many fans disappointment, the band could not set aside their personal differences to perform a song or two.
Kiss Induction Speech at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
Art Garfunkel's speech introducing Yusef Islam, formerly known as the artist Cat Stevens, was sincere and honest. Art praised Yusef's character and spirituality while admiring his bass heavy voice. "Sensitivity with a bass voice — I should have thought of that," he joked at one point, then continued by joking "This guy’s better than Paul Simon!"
Yusef humbly accepted his award while thanking those who have supported his music over the years. He shared a story about how he discovered his sisters record collection and playfully commented that Beethoven's "Symphony Number 9" is the greatest pop song ever. Lead Belly, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan were influences he admired while growing up. He took to the stage, with acoustic guitar in hand, and performed an intimate version of "Father and Son" before being joined by a full band and gospel choir for "Wild World" and "Peace Train."
"Wild World" - Cat Stevens at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
Next, Glenn Frey of the Eagles delivered the induction speech for Linda Ronstadt and accepted the award on her behalf. Linda could not make it to the ceremony due to her battle with Parkinson's disease.
Multiple female musicians came out to celebrate Linda's music legacy with their own version's of her songs. Carrie Underwood sang "Different Drum," then Bonnie Raitt and EmmyLou Harris joined her for a stellar version of "Blue Bayou." Glenn Frey and Sheryl Crow joined in to perform "You're No Good," followed by Stevie Nicks completing the cast of all-stars on stage to sing the hit song "It's So Easy." A version of "When Will I Be Loved?" completed a moving tribute that Linda Ronstadt would have been proud of.
New Jersey native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen introduced his backing band, The E Street Band, who received the Award for Musical Excellence. He gave a brief history of the band, how they formed, a few personal stories, and almost burst into tears when talking of his bandmate and "blood, blood, blood, blood brother" Steven Van Zandt. A special moment of the night was when Victoria, the wife of recently deceased E Street saxaphonist Clarence Clemons, praised her husband's talents. In a moment of spontaneity, she held her iPhone to the mic to play a fifteen second voicemail she received of him humming a melody. It was a private family moment that was shared with thousands of fans.
Bruce joined the band to play extended jams of "The E Street Shuffle," "The River," and "Kitty's Back." Plenty of Springsteen fans were in attendance and could be heard singing along to the lyrics . In total, the performances and introduction lasted for nearly eighty-five minutes, mainly due to each E Street band member giving a speech.
"The River" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
Before the next introduction, a montage of famous musicians, who had recently passed away, were being honored on the giant scoreboard above. Notable musicians who received warm applauses were Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, Ray Manzerik, Jeff Hanneman, Phil Everly, and JJ Cale.
Philadelphia native Questlove had the honor of introducing fellow Philadelphian's Daryl Hall & John Oates. He stated "If you owned a radio in the late '70s or '80s, or if you knew anybody who did, you knew Hall & Oates."
After a minor feedback issue that required the band to restart, they opened with the song "She's Gone." Hall & Oates had the crowd on their feet and dancing with "I Can't Go For That" and the 1980 hit "You Make My Dreams Come True."
"You Make My Dreams Come True" - Hall & Oates at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
Anticipation had been building all night for the moment when Nirvana would be inducted, and R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe did the honors. "Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word," Stipe said. "Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard. Nirvana were kicking against the mainstream. They spoke truth and a lot of people listened." Continuing to praise Nirvana's music and the friendship he shared with Kurt, Stipe went on to say, "They were singular and loud and melodic and deeply original. And that voice. That voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you. This is not just pop music. This is something much greater than that."
Drummer Dave Grohl was the first Nirvana member to speak upon acceptance of the award, and it was very motivational. He said that if you have a poster of a rock musician on your bedroom wall, it should not intimidate you, but serve to inspire you. He went on to say that you should look at that poster and say to yourself, "that's what I'm going to do someday!"
Bassist Krist Novoselic gave a brief but heartfelt speech, saying that Nirvana fans walk up to him every day and thank him for the music. "When I hear that, I think of Kurt Cobain," Krist said.
Kurt's mother, Wendy, came to the microphone to say that she loves and misses her son, and Kurt would have appreciated everyone being here on this night. Standing at her side was Kurt's sister, Kimberly. To a mixed reaction of cheers and boos, Kurt's widow, Courtney Love, came to the stage and shared hugs with Dave and Krist before saying that she wished Kurt was here to do this. It must have been an emotionally challenging night for Courtney, but she seemed to have kept her calm (and sanity).
Nirvana Acceptance Speech - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
The night's final performance saw a generation of fans who grew up on Nirvana's angst filled music standing on their feet in anticipation of what songs the band would perform, and with who. Joan Jett led the way with a badass version of the 1991 mega-hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Sonic Youth vocalist / bassist Kim Gordon provided a theatrical performance of "Aneurysm." Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, took center stage with a strong performance of "Lithium." Closing out the night was seventeen-year-old singer Lorde singing "All Apologies" while clad in a pink suit.
"All Apologies" - Lorde with Nirvana at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 4.10.2014
To have four females step into Kurt's shoes to perform and sing Nirvana's music was a bold choice. The fans loved the song selections and each female performer was able to incorporate their style while still maintaining the honesty of the songs. Dave Grohl showed he was still in top drumming form as he relentlessly played like he did in Nirvana's prime. Krist was equally impressive, as he bounced around and was very animated during his performance. Spiritually, it felt as if Kurt was on stage with his bandmates, playing one last gig for us fans.
The full show will air on HBO, Saturday, May 31 at 9 pm. You can see a full list of inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by clicking here. Below are crowd sourced YouTube videos of Michael Stipe's speech and Joan Jett performing with the remaining members of Nirvana.