The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony descended upon Los Angeles for the first time since 1993 last night. As we all know, a lot has happened since then, but there's no need to dwell on that now. Taking place at the Nokia Theater, the event featured nine inductees who took the stage, but the big story of the night were the thousands of Rush fans who descended downtown and turned the ceremony into all things Rush. We'll get to them later, but here's how it all went down.
Quincy Jones: easily one of the most memorable moments of the night, none other than Oprah Winfrey introduced Q to the crowd. She traced his days growing up on the mean streets of Chicago to sharing the moment when he cast her in The Color Purple, which for all intents and purposes was the moment where she became the Oprah so many women know and love. After a lengthy speech where he talked about how important music is, Usher paid tribute to the legendary producer with a fun version of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," a song Jones produced from Off The Wall.
Randy Newman: After Rolling Stone boss Jann Wenner's brief intro, the audience was treated to a delightful all-star version of "I Love L.A." featuring Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty, along with the night's first inductee. Don Henley inducted him (and was maybe the first guy to reference Rick Perry in a Rock hall speech) and Newman responded in kind with a funny, yet appreciative speech about finally getting in, which seemed to be the theme of the night. Lou Adler: Before he was known as Jack Nicholson's pal sitting courtside at Lakers games, Adler was one of the most recognized producers in rock. His credits include Carole King, Jan & Dean, Sam Cook, the Mamas & Papas and Cheech and Chong, who inducted him in a way only they can. Adler traced his roots from growing up in nearby Boyle Heights to his early producing days with Herb Alpert to the present, which of course includes hanging with Nicholson, who was in attendance to support his bud. Albert King: The veteran bluesman died in 1992, so a lot of people seemed to forget about his legacy, but not inductor John Mayer who gave a nice speech before yielding to King's daughter and granddaughter. Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. received a huge ovation for their dueling guitar solos, which was badass. Donna Summer: Inducted by Kelly Rowland, the late disco diva was remembered in a stirring performance by Jennifer Hudson, which of course included "The Last Dance."
Public Enemy: This is when things got a little dicey. Spike Lee, who was rocking his Mookie get up from Do The Right Thing, told the crowd an awesome nugget how after asking Chuck D. to write a song for the film, he basically sent him back to the proverbial kitchen to write another since the first one didn't cut the mustard. The second version ended up being "Fight The Power," the group's signature tune. After a speech by Harry Belafonte that touched on the group's social activism, controversy ensued. During the middle of Flava Flav's rambling speech, the Rush fans, whom were generally well behaved for much of the night, perked up and started booing Flav, who was oblivious to the jeers. If that weren't enough, the fans started chanting, "Rush, Rush" that I assume wasn't for Flav to hurry up with the speech. The rudeness continued during Chuck D.'s powerful speech that traced the history of rock and if the Rush fans shut up, they would have heard him pay tribute to their heroes as well.
Heart: Chris Cornell recalled a moment from his days as a fledgling singer when he was loading his gear into his car, pondering his future options until he saw Ann Wilson roll out in a red '80s Porsche (the story took place in the '80s), which he saw as a sign to continue with this music thing. They were one of the first bands to emerge from Seattle and put the city on the proverbial map, which wasn't lost on Cornell or the Wilson sisters. After the speeches, the ladies led their band through a ferocious three songs, including an all-star version of "Barracuda" featuring Cornell, Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell.
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Rush: Ah, the moment about 75 percent of the people were waiting for. Dave Grohl put in best in his speech: "When did Rush become cool?" Exactly. Fans wearing Rush gear (don't they know the rule from PCU about wearing the shirt of the band you're there to see? Apparently not.) were hooting and hollering like they were at a Rush show. The ovation got louder when the trio went into their speeches, highlighted by Alex Lifeson saying "blah, blah, blah" for his entire speech, which was annoying to non-Rush fans. The jam session: Featuring nearly everyone who performed, a fiery version of "Crossroads" closed out the night. There were plenty of fiery guitar solos and appearances by DMC and Tom Morello were welcome additions. An extremely wicked song performed by newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Any questions?
The event will be aired on HBO on May 18.