|courtesy: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame|
For the most part, this year’s honorees – Stevie Nicks, The Cure, Roxy Music, Radiohead, The Zombies, Def Leppard and Janet Jackson – were the strongest in recent memory. As a result, I couldn’t wait to see it. Unlike some past ceremonies, I wasn’t bored with certain aspects or disappointed with the result. Sure, there were some minor quibbles, like a few songs by my faves (Roxy, Cure) that were cut for broadcast. But then the whole thing would’ve been longer than just under three hours.
Stevie Nicks kicked the whole thing off with a strong four-song performance that included “Stand Back,” “Leather & Lace” (with Don Henley), “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” (with Harry Styles) and “Edge of Seventeen.” Nicks, with her trademark her black shawl, spun around a bit. The duet with her former boyfriend Henley was comfortable and sweet, while the duet with Styles was only passable. It made me miss the late, great Tom Petty even more.
Styles’ induction speech touched upon how Nicks was one of the first singers he heard and enjoyed as a kid. Memorable lines: “On Halloween, 1 in 7 people dress as Stevie Nicks…Stevie Nicks is both an adjective and a verb.” During her acceptance speech, Nicks said she hoped the honor would be an inspiration for young female musicians and told a few quick anecdotes about producer Jimmy Iovine and manager Irving Azoff.
The Cure was inducted by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who spoke about the band providing an outlet that made him “feel connected and not so alone in the world” while growing up. He said The Cure defined the 1980s with an “undiminished power,” influenced many bands today “including my own” and “created a completely self-contained world…they are one of the most unique bands in the world.” Nine members got onstage with Smith to accept, but none of the former musicians performed.
As for The Cure’s set, the Brits sounded as tight as ever on an ominous “Shake Dog Shake,” “Love Song,” “Just Like Heaven” and “Boys Don’t Cry” [Not broadcast: “A Forest”].
Janet Jackson was given a fiercely passionate induction speech by Janelle Monae. Jackson said, after seeing her brothers success in the Jackson 5, that she “always wanted to stand on my own two feet” and addressing them, said, “tonight, your baby sister has made it.” There was no performance.
David Byrne gave Radiohead a short introduction, praising the band for being “innovative, creative and smart…They changed the idea of what popular music can be." Drummer Phil Selway and guitarist Ed O’Brien accepted on the group’s behalf. Selway gave a stirring speech. There was no performance.
Roxy Music were inducted by Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran. Taylor told a humorous story about seeking out the band at their hotel with other teenagers before a gig in England, while Le Bon enthused about the impact of seeing them on TV for the first time as an impressionable kid.
Said Taylor: “Bryan Ferry was synonymous with cool…I knew my destiny…I can say with certainty there would be no Duran Duran without Roxy Music." Ferry gave props to a long list of former members, then the current lineup of his solo touring band were joined by Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanera and sax man Andy Mackay for six songs. Three were broadcast: a seductive “Out of the Blue,” “Avalon” and “Editions of You” [Search YouTube for fan shot footage of “Love is the Drug,” “More Than This,” “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”].
The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs did an enthusiastic induction speech for The Zombies. She said the music never failed to “inspire me…and lift me up when I’m down.” Once The Zombies accepted, keyboardist Rod Argent – who I had the honor of interviewing last year – told how the band started and that he was honored to be cited by younger musicians as an influence. The solid set included “Time of the Season,” “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There” [not aired: “This Will Be Our Year”].
Queen guitarist Brian May, a longtime friend of Def Leppard, gave the Sheffield rockers a heartfelt induction speech, telling anecdotes about meeting them on an early tour, guesting at an LA Forum gig and how the current guitar tandem of Phil Collen & Vivian Campbell are frighteningly good. Singer Joe Elliott talked about surviving all the ups and downs throughout the years, especially drummer Rick Allen who lost his arm and persevered. Allen was visibly touched.
Def Leppard played “Rock of Ages,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Photograph” with abandon (the latter should be off limits with the original song’s insanely high vocals). Finally, Elliott’s inspiration Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople joined Def Lep for his own hit “All the Young Dudes” and was joined by a few inductees, presenters and others to end it all ["Hysteria" was not aired].