Nirvana, KISS, Hall & Oates, Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt and More Enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Last night in Brooklyn, musicians and fans alike gathered to honor the class of 2014 as they entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Artists inducted included Nirvana, KISS, Hall & Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, The E Street Band and Cat Stevens.
To kick off the night, Rock Hall chairman Jann Wenner introduced Peter Asher, formerly of the British pop duo Peter and Gordon who went on to manage and produce the likes of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, to induct Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manger Andrew Loog Oldham. While Epstein passed away in 1967, Oldham elected not to attend out of protest. Asher called the two men “believers” who guided the careers of two groundbreaking bands “parallel only in their intense ambition.” Asher also remarked that both managers created the perception that one’s daughter marrying a Beatle was desirable while marrying a Rolling Stone “seemed like a daunting task” for a parent.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin then took the stage for the first artist induction of the night. Martin, inducting Peter Gabriel, delivered a humorous speech highlighting the significance and impact of the singer’s outstanding. Martin read from “The Book of Genesis” and even credited Gabriel for helping John Cusack get his girlfriend back in Say Anything.
Gabriel’s speech leaned more on the reflective side, as he thanked every one of his bandmates, the current lineup of whom then joined him on-stage to perform some of Gabriel’s biggest hits including 1992’s “Digging in the Dirt.” Chris Martin joined in on “Washing of the Water” (a song he credited in his speech as his favorite of all-time) while Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour reprised his famous vocal harmonies in a lengthy and energetic version of “In Your Eyes.” At the end of his performance, Gabriel introduced his band that included drummer Manu Katche, bassist Pino Palladino and Leo Nocentelli from The Meters.
In the end, the majority of the Brooklyn crowd was there to see two acts. The first of those came following Gabriel in the form of KISS. Finally gaining induction, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello delivered an impassioned speech that demonstrated the importance of the group’s legendary fanbase. Morello stated that “KISS was never a critic’s band, KISS was a people’s band.” He also recounted a tale about seeing his first concert as a 12-year-old, a KISS concert. Morello credited KISS for inspiring him as well as his Rage bandmates, among other groups.
When the original four members of KISS took the stage, the crowd erupted as if they were actually going to perform. Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley (not in full makeup) each took time to thank all of the people who helped them along the way including the current and former members of the band. Mark St. John, Vinnie Vincent, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer were all mentioned by the band members as well as Morello.
Despite the crowd’s urges, the band stuck with their decision not to perform due to the exclusion of the other members. Peter Criss, Brooklyn native, remarked that he is cancer-free and has been for seven years. He closed his speech by saying, “in or out of makeup, I’ll always be The Catman.” Paul Stanley used his time to take a few jabs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saying “here we are, basically inducted for the same things that we were kept out of” adding that they were up there due to their fans. “The people buy tickets, the people buy albums, the people who nominate do not.”
The only unannounced inductor, Art Garfunkel, took the stage to introduce Yusuf Islam as Cat Stevens. Garfunkel cited his talent in captivating audiences over the years that came from his “sensitivity with a bass voice.” He joked that “I should’ve thought of that.” Yusuf took the stage, joking back at Garfunkel that if he didn’t do a good job, he would’ve had the “other guy” do it, referring to Garfunkel’s longtime bandmate, Paul Simon.
Yusuf then took the stage to perform a trio of songs, “Father and Son,” “Wild World” and “Peace Train” with a clarity in his voice that hasn’t seemed to waiver despite his long hiatus. Joining Yusuf on stage was a full choir for “Peace Train” as well as the rhythm section from the Late Show band, bassist Will Lee, Paul Shaffer on keys, Anton Fig on drums and Felcia Collins on guitar.
Glenn Frey of The Eagles inducted Linda Ronstadt who was unable to travel to the event. Frey commended her artistic integrity and her amazing voice which led her on many paths through her career, all of which she traveled fearlessly, adding “Linda lives in a place where art trumps commerce.” In lieu of a musical performance from Ronstadt herself, Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, Emmy Lou Harris and Bonnie Raitt joined forces in various lineups to pay tribute to the singer. Harris, Raitt and Carrie Underwood opened the set with a performance of “Different Drum” before Sheryl Crow joined to perform “You’re No Good.” The quartet then introduced Stevie Nicks to the stage for “It’s So Easy to Fall In Love” before they closed the set with The Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved,” a tune made famous by Ronstadt in the ’70s.
The largest induction of the night belonged to The E Street Band. Bandleader Bruce Springsteen finally made things right fifteen years after he was inducted as a solo artist, by inducting his own band. Springsteen recounted tales from the days in Asbury Park, NJ all the way to the global icon status they currently hold. Springsteen was visibly emotional, as were the other band members, as he paid tribute to the late Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons. Representing the two fallen E Street Members were Federici’s son Jason and Clarence’s widow.
Fittingly, the band took the stage to “The E Street Shuffle” which featured extended solos for each member. Steve Van Zandt returned to the group after a long hiatus, and former members Vini Lopez and David Sacious made their return to the stage since their departures. This was also the first performance in the band’s history with two drummers, as Lopez’s replacement Max Weinberg was also inducted.
Following the extravagant “E Street Shuffle,” Bruce slowed things down with “The River” before closing with “Kitty’s Back” from the album The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle.
As the final two artists prepared to take the stage, The Roots’ Questlove kicked off the penultimate induction with a speech about Hall & Oates. Decked out in a black Hall & Oates t-shirt, Quest talked about his fellow Philadelphians, recounting the first time he heard the band when he was young, joking that “She’s Gone” actually scared him and Hall & Oates can “cure any known illness.”
Unlike most inductees, Daryl Hall & John Oates elected to make their speech together, side by side, riffing off each other the way they have for years. The duo then took the stage (after some monitor issues which Hall blamed on Bruce’s scorching performance), to run through just three of their hits, “She’s Gone,” “I Can’t Go For That” and “You Make My Dreams Come True.”
As the five-hour show came to a close, there was just one band left to induct—Nirvana. While Tom Morello may have won the award for most energetic and rousing speech and Bruce for most emotional, R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe delivered the most poignant of the evening. Stipe reflected on Nirvana’s effect on young people such as himself in the late 80s and early 90s, saying that they were a band for those of us who were “fed up” and wanted change, further explaining their continued appeal today. Stipe paused as he remembered Kurt Cobain’s infectious voice, veering from his speech with a simple “Wow.”
Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic took the stage flanked by Kurt Cobain’s family and widow, Courtney Love. Grohl thanked his mother for “letting me drop out of high school” and also gave advice to young musicians about dreaming big just like they did twenty years ago. Novoselic had a few poignant thoughts about the group’s effect, as he mentioned that “Nirvana didn’t go mainstream, the mainstream came to Nirvana.” The bassist also echoed Stipe’s sentiment that the band “caught lightning in a bottle” during their short time together.
Following the speeches, Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear (who joined the band in ’93, or as Novoselic put it, “a critical time”) jumped on stage along with Joan Jett for a rousing rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Handling the introductions, Krist then introduced Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, a band who he credited as a vital part of the scene and an influence to him personally. Gordon belted out “Aneurysm” before the band surprised everyone with Annie Clark aka St. Vincent on “Lithium.” Clark also recently covered the song on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death.
The finale came with all three female leads on stage along with the three surviving members of Nirvana. Novoselic then introduced the final guest of the evening, New Zealand pop star Lorde, who handled lead with her unusual vocal stylings on “All Apologies.”