Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks, Roxy Music, The Cure, The Zombies, Radiohead and Janet Jackson were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame Friday night during a ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Two of the inductees didn’t perform, and only two-fifths of another act showed up, but there was still plenty of great music — more than usual, since there was extra time that needed to be filled.
The evening, highlights of which air on HBO April 27, ended with Def Leppard bringing on special guest Ian Hunter for an all-star rendition of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes.” But here’s what happened before that:
What she performed: Stevie opened the show, performing “Stand Back,” “Leather and Lace,” “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” and “Edge of Seventeen,” into which she inserted a line from “When Doves Cry,” by her late friend Prince. She brought out surprise guest Don Henley for “Leather and Lace,” and on “Stop Dragging,” she sang with One Direction‘s Harry Styles, who then inducted her.
Induction: Harry Styles, a major fan of Stevie’s who also knows something about going solo after being in a successful group, spoke about her music’s influence on him and the world.
“She is the magical gypsy godmother who occupies the in between. It’s a space that can and will only ever be hers,” he gushed. “She is so much more than a role model. She is a beacon to all of us. Whenever you hear her voice, life just gets a little bit better. When she sings the world is hers…and it is yours.”
Speech: In a rambling and funny speech, Nicks spoke about making history as the first woman to be inducted as both a solo artist and as a member of a group. She explained how she finessed making a solo album without breaking up Fleetwood Mac. “You can do both and you can have both. You just have to do it with love, that’s all,” she said. “And yes, my amazing band is still together and very strong today!”
After speaking for some 12 minutes, she joked that she was available for keynote addresses, and then signed off by saying, “I love you more than you’ll ever know! Thank you so much for being so awesome!”
Backstage: Bringing both Harry Styles and Fleetwood Mac with her, Stevie told reporters she wasn’t sure what her timetable is for doing another solo album, since the current Mac tour still has a long ways to run. She also embarrassed herself by mistakenly referring to Styles as having been in *NSYNC. “Sorry! I’m never gonna live that one down, I know it!” she groaned.
What they performed: They didn’t . Only members Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway showed up.
Induction: David Byrne, whose Talking Heads song “Radio Head” gave the band its name, said they deserved the induction for two reasons: “Their music, the quality and constant innovation, but equally for their innovations in how they release their work — that has affected the entire music business,” he said, “They’re creative and smart in both areas, a rare and inspiring combination.”
Speech: Selway and O’Brien didn’t address why Thom Yorke and the rest of the band didn’t show, but O’Brien was grateful for the honor, admitting, “It is a big f***ing deal and it feels like it. I wish the others could be here ’cause they would be feeling it.” He also thanked his bandmates for their “deep, deep friendship” and the transcendental moments they’ve shared making music.
Selway noted, “We may not be the greatest musicians around and we’re certainly not the most media-friendly of bands, but we have become very adept at being Radiohead. And when that connects with people, it feels amazing.”
What they performed: “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” “Out of the Blue,” “Love Is the Drug,” “More Than This,” “Avalon” “Editions of You”
Induction: Simon LeBon and John Taylor of Duran Duran explained how they never would have formed their own group without the influence of Roxy Music, whose art-rock stylings and outrageous fashion made a huge impact on them as kids.
Speech: Original keyboardist Brian Eno and drummer Paul Thompson didn’t show, so frontman Bryan Ferry took the stage with band mates Andy Mackay, the sax player, and Phil Manzanera, the guitarist, and spent his entire speech thanking everyone who’s performed with the band over the years, and also the people who designed Roxy’s iconic album covers.
Backstage: They didn’t show, but Taylor and LeBon did, and spoke about what a big deal it was for them to be able to induct a band that’s meant so much to them.
What they performed: “Shake Dog Shake,” “A Forest,” “Love Song,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Boys Don’t Cry”
Induction: Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor described discovering The Cure’s music via college radio. “A lot of darkness I felt in my head was coming back at me through the speakers,” he said, adding, “I’ve struggled my whole life feeling like I don’t fit in anywhere, and hearing this, suddenly I felt connected and not quite so alone in the world.”
Reznor also admitted that he’d been down on the Rock Hall for years because they wouldn’t induct the Cure, but when he got the call, he said, “I’d never been so happy to eat my words.”
Speech: Robert Smith was the only member of the band who spoke, though many members joined him onstage. Saying he’d simply prefer to play for the crowd, the singer, still sporting his signature fright-wig hairdo and goth makeup, admitted, “I’m no good with stories. I’m a very bad communicator.”
Backstage: Smith said he and the band have 19 songs completed for their first new album in 10 years. He also said he felt strange about being inducted, but then figured it would be “rather churlish” not to show up.
What she performed: She didn’t. A source told Variety she declined because her family is upset with HBO over its airing of the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland.
Induction: Janelle Monae gave a rousing tribute to Janet, calling her the “Queen of Black Girl Magic,” and praised her for taking Control of her career — literally — and for her activism on behalf of women and the LGBTQI community. She also admitted that Janet’s photo has been her phone’s lock screen for seven years.
“Through music, Miss Jackson unified through the weapons of rock and roll and rhythm,” she said. “Every album a risk and every moment a revelation: A fully carefree black woman and pop star whose cultural impact can’t be quantified. Janet has a crown, glory and legacy all her own.”
Speech: Noting that her brothers have been in the Hall for many years, Janet said, “As the youngest in the family, I was determined to make it on my own. I wanted to stand on my own two feet, but never in a million years did I expect to follow in their footsteps. Tonight, your baby sister has made it!”
She also specifically thanked all her fans and her son Eissa, and signed off by saying, “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, please, 2020, induct more women!”
Backstage: Janet and Janelle came back together and caused the biggest frenzy in the press room, as reporters stood on chairs to grab photos of the two women. Neither of them spoke, though.
What they performed: “Time of the Season,” “This Will Be Our Year,” “Tell Her No,” She’s Not There”
Induction: The Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs spoke about how much she loved the British Invasion group’s music, describing its “elegance, soulfulness, tonal textures, and foggy London intrigue.”
Speech: The band, getting in on their fourth try, were ecstatic about the honor, with keyboard player Rod Argent noting the ceremony was taking place in Brooklyn, NY, where they played their first U.S. show in 1964, and on the 50th anniversary to the day of “Time of the Season” hitting #1 on the Cashbox chart.
“This wonderful occasion is an absolute joy,” added singer Colin Blunstone.
Backstage: Explaining why they’re still around after more than 50 years, Rod Argent said, “We still get completely energized by being able to write new music, and record it and play it in front of appreciative audiences.”
What they performed: “Hysteria,” “Rock of Ages,” “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and they led the closing number, “All the Young Dudes,” with their idol, Ian Hunter.
Induction: Queen’s Brian May spoke about his friendship with the band, which dates back to 1981, and how much he admired their musicianship, and their perseverance. “Not everybody realizes that these guys are not just crowd-pleasers. They also embody such an amazing technical excellence,” said May. “They have it all. I regard all these guys as great friends and kind of part of my family; that’s why it’s so important for me to be here. I wouldn’t have let anybody else do this.”
Speech: Only Joe Elliott spoke, touching on the band’s close friendship, which has lasted through illness, the death of guitarist Steve Clark, and the loss of drummer Rick Allen’s arm in a car crash. Explaining why they’re still around, the singer noted, “We survived and came out the other side stronger…And that’s the way it’s always played out throughout our career. So let’s face facts here: If alcoholism, car crashes and cancer couldn’t kill us, the nineties had no f**king chance!”
Backstage: “It’s not the end of the road…tomorrow morning, we have other mountains to climb,” noted Elliott. “But this is a nice bit of acknowledgment of what we’ve done so far.” Guitarist Phil Collen also thanked the band’s fans for making them #1 in the Rock Hall’s annual online fan vote. “Without sounding corny, this is totally for them,” he said.
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