In an evening with thankfully far less drama than last year’s Axl Rose/GNR feud/fiasco, 2013’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was nevertheless eventful, as progressive rock band Rush, girl rockers Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and others were officially honored as this year’s Rock Hall of Fame inductees.
If last night’s festivities could be given a theme, it would be, “It’s about time.” Indeed, after years of delay and being overlooked, it seemed like most of this year’s inductees should have been honored a long time ago for their contributions to the genre. A collective sense of satisfaction and untamed enthusiasm pervaded the crowd who gathered in Los Angeles (the first time the Hall of Fame ceremony has been there in a decade), many of whom were obviously there to see Rush, the band they felt had been snubbed the longest. (The words “from Toronto” in Chairman Jann Wenner’s introductory remarks evoked a two-minute standing ovation, and audience members shouted bandmates’ names all through the evening, building anticipation for Rush’s closing performance.)
But Rush wasn’t the only act whose induction was past due. Seattle sister-rockers Heart received a long-awaited induction, introduced by fellow Seattle rocker Chris Cornell; songwriter/composer Randy Newman received a heartfelt tribute from Don Henley; and Kelly Rowland was tasked with the honor of paying tribute to Donna Summer, who was inducted posthumously.
Even so, the surprise of the evening was the appearance of Oprah Winfrey onstage (who received the loudest cheers of anyone besides Rush themselves), who showed up to pay tribute to her friend, producer Quincy Jones—perhaps the longest-overlooked inductee of the pack.
If the crowd made the most noise for Rush, the inductees who made the most noise for themselves were Public Enemy, the fourth hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Flava Flav’s extended ramblings seemed geared toward stealing as much of the spotlight as possible, even provoking Chuck D to tap his clock necklace. Other inductees included record producer Lou Adler, and the late guitarist Albert King, honored posthumously for his influence on some of rock’s guitar icons with a moving tribute by John Mayer.
The high point of the evening met or exceeded audience expectations as Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl came onstage dressed in Rush’s 1970s kimonos to introduce the band of the evening. After their cover of “2112”, Rush themselves came onstage to perform, much to the crowd’s delight.
All told, last night’s induction ceremony resembled far more what a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony should look like, devoid of the drama that plagued last year’s festivities. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, HBO will broadcast the ceremony on May 18.