"In the beginning, there was Mad Dog Vini Lopez."
So began Bruce Springsteen's rousing, moving speech inducting his longtime backing group exactly 15 years after his own induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The current incarnation of the E Street Band was on hand to accept the honor, alongside original drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez and keyboardist David Sancious. Danny Federici's widow Maya accepted on his behalf, and Victoria Clemons spoke in the place of her late husband Clarence. Springsteen saluted various members of the group:
On Lopez: "The genesis of the E Street Band was actually a band that Vini Lopez asked me to form to make a few extra bucks on the weekend."
On David Sancious: "Davey was very unusual. He crossed the tracks in search of musical pleasure. He was my roomie...and the only member of the group who actually lived on E Street."
On Steven Van Zandt: "My dependable devil's advocate whenever I need one and fan number one. My blood blood blood blood blood brother. Stevie, let's keep rolling for as many lives as they give us."
On Clarence Clemons: "I met Clarence on a dark and stormy night. From that moment, I knew that my life had changed. Miss you, big man."
On Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan: "They defined and refined the sound of the E Street Band."
On Patti Scialfa: "A Jersey girl came down one weekend from New York City and had a voice that was filled with a little Ronnie Spector, a little Dusty Springfield and something that was very much her own. When we met, we talked for an hour or another 30 years or so. We enjoyed health and we've suffered illness and age and death together. But in the end, we kept the faith together."
Springsteen summed up his speech by relaying the contributions of his longtime backing band. "I told a story with the E Street Band that was and is bigger than anything I could have told on my own," said the Hall of Famer.
Watch the speech: