Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Greatest Moments

Three decades worth of classsic jams, speeches and reunions

March 10, 2011 12:20 PM ET
George Harrison and Bob Dylan perform at the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York City.
George Harrison and Bob Dylan perform at the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York City.
Neal Preston/CORBIS

When the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in 1986, it was going to be nothing more than than a dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom with music from Paul Shaffer and his band during the evening. "We didn't want people to feel as if they had to sing for their supper, but we had brought in instruments just in case," Shaffer remembered in our November 26, 2009 issue celebrating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary.

But by the end of that first ceremony, the likes of Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry were on stage performing — starting a tradition that would produce explosive sessions like the 1992 all-star jam to induct Jimi Hendrix featuring Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, John Fogerty and onstage reunions like the Byrds in 1991 and Cream in 1993.

In addition to the music, the ceremonies were a platform for Paul McCartney's heartfelt speech to induct John Lennon, Mike Love's crazy acceptance when the Beach Boys were inducted and other once-in-a-lifetime tributes.

We collected the most star-studded jams, powerful speeches and action-packed reunions over the past 25 years — read on for these historic moments.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Complete Coverage

1986 The Return of Chuck Berry: Keith Richards delivers the first induction speech ever on an evening that prompted Berry to plan a 60th-birthday concert propelling him back into the spotlight.

1987 Springsteen Launches Roy Orbison's Comeback: Bruce inducts Orbison, who had been out of the spotlight since the late 1960s and whose career would have a remarkable revival following his the ceremony.

1988 Mick, Ringo, Dylan, Elton! The Starriest Night of All: A ten-song monster jam session breaks out at the end of the 1988 ceremony featuring Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, Elton John, Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Neil Young, the Beach Boys, Les Paul and the Drifters.

1988 'Elvis Freed Your Body, Bob Freed Your Mind': Bruce Springsteen inducts Bob Dylan.

1988 Mike Love: The Craziest Speech Ever: The Beach Boys vocalist lambastes nearly everyone in the room when he takes the stage for the band's induction.

Next: Mick Jagger Inducts the Beatles, the All-Star Jam for Jimi and More

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