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Done, Deaf, Delighted: Revisiting The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

PERFORMER CATEGORY: BEASTIE BOYS Watching Chuck D and LL Cool J induct them, I’m reminded of Ben Stiller joining the members onstage during the Get Out and Vote Tour and him rapping along in the film, “Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!” He must be soooo jealous right now. As an aside, the Beasties opened for Madonna on May 16, 1985 in the same venue.

Chuck D asked if he can give three-and-a-half minutes to hip-hop as part of tribute to Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D.

LL Cool J then recalled his first introduction to the trio. I thought, “What a bunch of punks.” He suddenly shouted out, “You’ve Gotta Fight for Your Right…!” Without missing a beat the crowd loudly responded “To Parrrrrr-teeeee!” “Run DMC brought rap to the edge of suburbia. The Beasties drove it right into the center of town.” He also credited them for playing his demo for Def Jam records.

Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond minus Adam Yauch, who, sadly would pass away a few weeks later. Both thanked New York multiple times for among other reasons, the city’s many flavors of music. “New York taught me everything. New York is everything,” said Horovitz. It was interesting that one of the first bands he thanked was Bad Brains. He also read a speech written by Yauch.

The two didn’t perform. Instead, the Roots supplied the backing to an ad hoc group of rappers – Kid Rock, Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy and Black Thought (of the Roots). Together, they did a medley that included “No Sleep Til Brooklyn,” “So What’cha Want” and “Sabotage.” In the middle of the final number Questlove supplied the line, “Let Me Clear My…Throat!” which was followed by Kid doing the song’s lengthy scream before it kicked back in again and then detoured for the “Ali Baba and the 40 thieves” line from “Rhymin’ and Stealin’” before concluding.

PERFORMER CATEGORY: GUNS N’ ROSES There’s no letting up as Green Day induct Guns N’ Roses. Billie Joe Armstrong discussed how dangerous the band seemed when he watched their video on MTV. He concentrated on GNR’s debut, mentioned Lies, Appetite for Destruction I and II and even The Spaghetti Incident but skipped Chinese Democracy. After talking about each band member he said with a devilish grin, “Now, let’s see…who am I missing?” Knowing that MIA Axl Roses was left, the crowd booed long and loud. His pleas to quiet down went unheeded. So Armstrong yelled, “Shut the fuck up!” He then praised Rose’s charisma and voice.

On hand to accept their awards were Slash, Duff McKagan, original drummer and Cleveland native Stephen Adler and his replacement Matt Sorum. McKagan said, “It doesn’t matter who’s here tonight, because it’s about the music the band created. We’re here because we’re overwhelmed.” Wearing a “That Metal Show” t-shirt, Adler was just beaming in the spotlight and for the honor. Slash simply thanked the fans. Raconteur Matt Sorum spoke of how an offhand remark to Slash that he wanted to leave his spot as drummer in the Cult led to him receiving a call to join GN’R. He said that he brought the cocaine to band’s “opium den” in order to get them to wake up and get out onstage and rock ‘n’ roll.

Slash, Duff and Matt with Cleveland native and former GN’R member Gilby Clarke on guitar and Myles Kennedy of Slash’s band and Alter Bridge on vocals tackle “Mr. Brownstone.” Billie Joe Armstrong joins in on backing vocals. Adler and Matt switch for “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Then, it’s on to “Paradise City.” Between the volume onstage and the crowd going nuts, it’s possible the 90 year old building or my eardrums would explode. When it’s over, they took one last bow and Adler threw drumsticks up to the balcony.

AWARD FOR MUSICAL EXCELLENCE: Before Robbie Robertson began his induction speech he asked that “We all need to send out love and prayers to my Band mate Levon Helm.” The unsung heroes who helped make recorded music come alive get their due – Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns.

Although the elderly Matassa was there, his grandson gave his speech. Dana Dowd, Tom’s daughter spoke for her late father, and encouraged everyone to watch the documentary Tom Dowd and the Language of Music to know more about him. Johns offered that, “The biggest thrill this evening was seeing the Small Faces and Faces inducted.”

PERFORMER CATEGORY: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS Before Chris Rock inducted them he let loose with, “Let’s face it. Even if Axl was coming tonight he wouldn’t have been here by now.” He then explained how he became a fan when due to accidentally attending one of the group’s shows early in their career. Although it didn’t make total sense Rock got off another great line, “If Brian Wilson and George Clinton had a kid it would be ugly as fuck, but it would sound a lot like the Chili Peppers”

Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Chad Smith were joined by new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, former members Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez and the late Hillel Slovak’s brother, who said a few words of appreciation and accepted his award. John Frusciante did not show up but was acknowledged for his major contributions.

An emotional Flea was brought to tears several times. “I see George Clinton. I love you, man. You give me a reason to live so many times.” (Clinton produced the band’s 1985 album Freaky Styley ). Kiedis emphasized the brotherhood among the members and ended with a story of how his drug addiction nearly got him ousted multiple times. One particular incident had Flea dispatched to give him the news but when he woke out of his haze he told him, “But I was going to be the James Brown of the ‘80s.” Somehow, that plea made enough sense that Kiedis was given another chance.

As the three current members walked over to their instruments, Kiedis said that, “Josh Klinghoffer is going to give his speech by playing for you.” He followed that with, “By the way, we love you Adam Yauch. Sending light and support.”

The band played “By the Way, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” and “Give It Away.” As a nice gesture Kiedis wore a trucker hat with “OFF!”written on the front. It referenced the name of the L.A. hardcore punk supergroup that includes members of Black Flag/Circle Jerks, Burning Brides, Redd Kross and Rocket from the Crypt.

It was more of a get together than a jam session that ended the night. The Chili Peppers were joined by Ron Wood, Slash Billie Joe Armstrong Tre Cool and Kenny Jones on a cover “Higher Ground.” George Clinton left his VIP table to come onstage as well as P-Funk guitarist Michael Hampton.

As the crowd exited, I could only think of this. Done. Deaf. Delighted.

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