Hall of Fame 2011: Elton John, Bette Midler and More Pay Tribute to Their Heroes

'Being accepted by your peers and by people that you idolize is very special,' Neil Diamond said

March 14, 2011 10:10 PM ET
Elton John and Leon Russell at the 26th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York City, March 14, 2011.
Elton John and Leon Russell at the 26th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York City, March 14, 2011.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Appropriately, the 26th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions began Monday night with an eye cast firmly toward the past. The evening's first inductee, Dr. John, who inductor John Legend described as "a living link to the New Orleans of Dixieland" – ran through a long list of those whose tutelage had made him who he was – a list that included New Orleans greats like Professor Longhair and Huey "Piano" Smith. After a few minutes, though, he thought the better of it, wryly and jokingly concluding, "If I didn't mention you – too bad! What's important is that music is a blessing." (He was just as salty backstage: when asked by a reporter where he got his shoes, he shot back, "The pimp store.")

The notion of music as a blessing was a recurring theme Monday night, with presenters repeatedly honoring the impact of the inductees. "Tonight is the culmination of an effort on my behalf to try to get this man recognized for his incredible achievements," said Elton John, seated next to Leon Russell in the press room before the ceremony began. "To see him here tonight is very emotional to me," he continued, "There is no finer musician out there. Tonight, I'm so proud of him."

Bette Midler struck a similar note introducing Darlene Love, whose entry into the Hall has been years in the making. "She changed my view of the world," Midler said. "She picked us up by the scruff of our neck and shook the starch out of us. She has been robbed of royalties, but never of self-respect, and yet she lives without a trace of bitterness."

Beaming from ear-to-ear in the press room, Love dismissed any suggestion that her induction was overdue. "I never say it was about time, I say 'it was in God's time," and then yelled giddily, "Everything is just unbelievable tonight!"

But more than anything, all of them enduring power of music. Asked how he planned to communicate with a younger generation, Neil Diamond, who had interrupted an Australian tour to attend the ceremony, deadpanned, "I write songs," before explaining why his induction was so important he flew halfway around to world to attend. " Being accepted by your peers and by people that you idolize is very special," he said, "So I'm very happy to be part of this shindig tonight. I wouldn't miss this for the world."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »