Linda Ronstadt has difficulty traveling due to her ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease, but many of her old friends were on hand to honor her lifetime of work. Glenn Frey delivered the induction speech, highlighting the fact that the Eagles would not exist had she not hired them as her backing group in the early 1970s. "She, more than anyone else," he said, "helped form The Eagles."
Carrie Underwood began the musical tribute with a stirring "Different Drum" and then Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris melded their voices together on a lovely "Blue Bayou." Sheryl Crow was joined by Glenn Frey for "You're No Good," Stevie Nicks channeled Ronstadt on "It's So Easy" and everyone came together to harmonize on "When Will I Be Loved," an Everly Brothers classic that Linda famously covered on her 1974 classic LP Heart Like A Wheel.
People all over the crowd were rocking vintage Springsteen T-shirts, and cries of "Broooce" filled the room before he even walked onstage to induct The E Street Band. Unsurprisingly, he rose to the occasion and spoke movingly about each and every member, giving special attention to the late Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons. "These are the people that built a place called E Street," he said. "We struggled together and sometimes we struggled with one another. We bathed in the glory and often the heartbreaking confusion of our wars together. We enjoyed health and we suffered aging and death together."
Many fans (and band members) were upset when the group wasn't inducted alongside Springsteen back in 1999, and the speech ended with a stunningly honest account of the situation. "A few evenings before my own induction, I stood in my darkened kitchen along with Steve Van Zandt," Springsteen said. "Steve was just returning to the band after a 15-year hiatus. He was petitioning me to push the Hall of Fame to induct all of us together. I listened and the Hall of Fame had its rules and I was proud of my independence.
"We hadn't played together in 10 years. We were somewhat estranged. We were just taking the first small steps of reforming. We didn't know what the future would bring. Perhaps the shadow of some of the old grudges still held some sway. It was a conundrum since we've never been quite fish nor fowl. Steve was quiet, persistent and at the end of our conversation he just said, "Yeah, yeah. I understand. But Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, that's the legend.'"
It was at this point that the carefully plotted running time of the evening fell apart, and the organizers probably began sweating bullets thinking about possible overtime charges. Eleven members of the E Street Band were inducted and each was told to speak for just 30 seconds prior to the ceremony. Original keyboardist David Sancious, who left the group in 1974, spoke first. He talked for six straight minutes. It took nearly 40 minutes for everyone to take their turn, which included incredibly touching tributes to Federici from his son Jason and Clarence from his widow Victoria.
The crowd was getting fidgety near the end, but all was forgiven when they walked over to their instruments. This was a completely unique E Street Band lineup with Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez and Max Weinberg on separate drum kits and Sancious on the organ. They played "E Street Shuffle," "The River" and an epic "Kitty's Back" where nearly everyone got a chance to solo. Sancious was playing music he hadn't touched since the Nixon administration and Lopez got the chance to play a song recorded six years after he left the group. It was all pretty amazing and the perfect way to honor the E Street Band.
Some people saw ?uestlove as a surprising choice to induct Hall & Oates, but the man is a music encyclopedia. Also, nobody knows more about Philly groups than he does. He ran through highlights from their long career, stopping occasionally to sing bits of "She's Gone," "I Can't Go For That" and other hits. "I don't need to list the hits," he said. "We know them all. They single-handedly invented the Carlton dance for black people from the hood…Hall & Oates will cure any known ailment. H20 can heal you. There isn't a person in here that didn't sing along to the songs when they came on the radio."
Perhaps aware of the ticking clock, Hall & Oates kept their speech very short, and even did part of it as a duo. "We've been doing this together for 40 years," said Oates. "Why should we stop now? Also, lucky for you there's only two us." The crowd roared at the reference to the long E Street Band speeches, and they cheered even louder when they kicked into super funky renditions of "She's Gone," "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and "You Make My Dreams." Hall was annoyed by monitor problems early on and stopped a song after about 30 seconds, but when the situation resolved itself he got in the zone and was simply stunning.
Inevitably, the night wrapped up with Nirvana. Michael Stipe gave the speech. "They were singular, loud and melodic and deeply original," he said. "And that voice, that voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you. Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders, from the fags and the fat girls to the shy nerds and the goth kids in Tennessee and Kentucky, for the rockers to the awkward to the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community."
Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted the award alongside Courtney Love and members of Kurt's family. Grohl pointed out that he was the fifth drummer in Nirvana and he sincerely thanked each of his predecessors. "Dale Crover from The Melvins is my absolute drumming hero," he said. "And Chad Channing is somewhere in the house tonight." Novoselic profusely thanked Nirvana's fans. "People stop me every day," he said. "They say, 'Thank you for the music.' When I hear that, that reminds me of Kurt Cobain. I wish he was here tonight. That music means to much to so many people. Kurt was an intense artist. He really connected with a lot of people."
Courtney Love's long history of beef with Dave Grohl and her general Courtney Love-ness made many people think she'd deliver some sort of nutty speech. That turned out to not be the case at all, and she talked for about a minute. "I have a big speech," she said. "But I'm not going to say it. This is my family I'm looking at, all of you. Brother Michael, Brother Krist, Grandma Wendy, Mr. Grohl….David." She then walked over to him and they hugged in one of the most moving moments of the night. "That's it," she said. "I just wish that Kurt was here to see this."
The Joan Jett-led "Smells Like Teen Spirit" sent shockwaves through the arena, and it didn't let up until the end of Lorde's "All Apologies." The entire Nirvana set probably go down as one of the all-time great moments in Hall of Fame history. In a break from tradition, there was no all-star jam at the end. It was a wise choice. What could possibly have topped Nirvana?
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies
Picks From Around the Web
blog comments powered by Disqus