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15 Best Moments at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Induction

The funniest speeches, most punk-rock performances and unlikeliest team-ups

Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool of Green Day perform onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

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Billie Joe Armstrong stared at the crowd assembled for the 30th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and marveled out loud that it was like his childhood record collection come to life. When stars from so many generations and genres collide, sparks fly, and last night's extraordinary night in Cleveland demonstrated just how powerful rock & roll can be. Laughter, tears, fart jokes: Ringo Starr, Green Day, Bill Withers and Co. brought them all. These were the big night's biggest moments.

Laurie Anderson

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Best Rock & Roll Revelations: Laurie Anderson Accepts for Lou Reed

Anyone with even a passing interest in Lou Reed was riveted by Laurie Anderson's speech on behalf of her longtime partner, who died in 2013 after a battle with liver disease. Her long, insightful remembrance had Dave Grohl, Miley Cyrus and Gary Clark Jr. all tearing up as she described Reed's self-aware gift for moving between writer and rock & roll star. "He could take his fame off like one of his leather jackets, or, he could just decide to use it," she artfully explained.

In a rare peek into Lou's inner world, Anderson enumerated his three rules for life: "One: Don’t be afraid of anyone. Two: Get a really good bullshit detector. And three: Three is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don't need anything else."

She even spoke about his death, explaining that he did tai chi with his hands in his final moments on this Earth as he passed away in her arms. "I watched with joy and surprise that came over his face . . .and I became less afraid," she revealed.

Anderson singled out some of her husband's most polarizing work, specifically mentioning "the live versions of Metal Machine Music" and his final album, Lulu, recorded with Metallica, and her internal struggle with the LP – until David Bowie convinced her it was great. "I've been reading the lyrics and it is so fierce. It's written by a man who understood fear and rage and venom and terror and revenge and love," she said. "And it is raging." 


CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh perform onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Best Help From Famous Friends: The Superjam

If Joan Jett & the Blackhearts had been inducted any other year, the night would have surely wrapped up with a wild jam on "I Love Rock and Roll" featuring everybody from the evening. But when Paul and Ringo are in the house, there's simply no other option but to bust out some Beatles tunes.

There have been countless all star renditions of "With a Little Help From My Friends" over the years at Ringo concerts, but never one with this level of star wattage. With Paul McCartney playing his Hofner bass right next to him, Ringo led Miley Cyrus, Green Day, Patti Smith, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Joan Jett, Dave Grohl, John Legend, Beck, Karen O, Joe Walsh, Gary Clarke Jr, Zac Brown and everyone else from the night through the sing-along tune. Miley Cyrus had a bigger smile on her face than anybody as she shared a mic with Mike Dirnt and belted out the chorus.

It seemed like a finale, but then Ringo got behind the kit and closed out the whole evening with "I Wanna Be Your Man." Billie Joe Armstrong and Tom Morello took killer guitar solos, while an ecstatic Grohl was happy to merely clap along. Even though it was 1:00 a.m., nobody would have minded had they played a few more, but when the song wrapped Paul and Ringo raised their hands in triumph, took a bow and walked offstage together.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Best Brotherly Bond: Jimmie Vaughan Pays Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan's prowess on the guitar is well documented, so in accepting the Rock Hall honor for the late musician, who died in a helicopter crash in 1990 at the age of 35, his older brother Jimmie Vaughan was careful to make note of the man behind the music. "Our dad used to say, 'He's a mean motor-scooter,' and he is," he said. "But what you heard with Stevie was his enthusiasm for everything."

In a backstage interview, Vaughan elaborated on his reasons for focusing on the brother he knew away from the music. "Most people know he was an incredible guitar player and a great musician and a singer," he said, "but what they may not know is that he was a sweet guy and he would do anything for you, and that was just the way he always was."

Vaughan's tribute offered a nice counterpoint to John Mayer's induction speech, which focused on the late musician's guitar heroics and the intensity of his playing ("It's a rage without anger; it's devotional, it's religious," he said) — elements that defined an all-star tribute that featured the likes of Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. performing alongside members of Stevie Ray Vaughan's freshly inducted backing band Double Trouble, including keyboardist Reese Wynans, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: Inductee Billy Boy Arnold (L) and Elvin Bishop of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band performs onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Mike Coppola/Getty

Best Blues Throwdown: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Tribute

For surviving members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, playing the group's electric fare still feels as comfortable as an old pair of blue jeans. Guitarist Elvin Bishop took the notion literally: Throwing a black-tie dress code to the breeze, the 72-year-old took the stage in overalls and a green plaid shirt. 

But no wardrobe choices could distract from the significance of the late Butterfield's sonic and boundary-breaking social contributions to the blues. A graying Bishop, who performed the Muddy Waters track "Got My Mojo Working" with drummer Sam Lay and keyboardist Mark Nataflin, explained, "We kind of set an example, which was badly needed in those days, that people of different races could work together." 

With J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf offering the band's induction speech (Butterfield died at age 44 in 1987 of a drug overdose; he and deceased guitarist Mike Bloomfield both were recognized), the tribute also featured Zac Brown and Tom Morello on fierce dueling guitars during a hot cover of the Butterfield standard "Going to Chicago." Amid a night of pomp and flash, the skillful Windy City bluesmen — and four-time Rock Hall nominees — displayed their continued model of modesty. "They were musicians first, stars second," Morello, a longtime Butterfield fan, told Rolling Stone backstage. 

John Legend and Bill Withers

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: Inductee Bill Withers (L) and John Legend perform onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Mike Coppola/Getty

Best Return to the Mic: Bill Withers

Though he hasn't properly performed in years, Bill Withers proved he'd lost none of his performing chops with the most memorable speech of the night, maybe one of the greatest in Hall of Fame history, packed with classic one-liners and personal reflection.

In the hall, the anticipation of what Withers — who hadn't sang onstage in years — was going to do after his speech, was palpable. With no mic in front of him, he sat next to Stevie Wonder as Wonder began "Aint No Sunshine" in front of harpejji instrument, just watching as Wonder belted the song, making Withers' presence feel almost ghost-like. After that, John Legend joined for "Use Me," and "Lean on Me." Withers materialized with a microphone for the chorus, bringing the crowd to its feet, even if he couldn't be heard. "The idea was to make them think I was singing," he told Rolling Stone backstage. "I was just sort of fooling around behind John Legend, you know. It's just something i don't feel comfortable doing right now. If I was to go to the gym and jog around the track and everything, you know, but it's been a long time for me. I haven't done that in like 25 years or something."

"I think what determines a great songwriter and singer is when they are able to let you feel every word they sing and express," Wonder said before the feel-good salute. Withers' fans, glad to see him momentarily back in a groove, no doubt felt the love. 

5 Royales

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: Family members of the inductees the "5" Royales attend the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Best Soul Tribute: Steve Cropper Honors The “5” Royales

In his induction speech, Booker T. & the M.G.'s guitarist Steve Cropper noted the Hall's decision to include the "5" Royales was long overdue — a point later echoed by surviving family of the vocal R&B group, whose original members (John Tanner, Eugene Tanner, Lowman Pauling, Jimmy Moore and Obadiah Carter) have all died. Still, as Fred Tanner, Eugene and John's brother, noted in his acceptance speech, the spirit of the music lives on.

"We didn't really know the impact [the music] would have on people like James Brown and Ray Charles," said Tanner, interviewed backstage. "I was a young kid, just getting out of high school and college and. . .I didn't know the impact it was having. I look back now and say, 'What if? What if they would have known?'"

There's certainly a greater awareness now.

Karen O

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Best Homage to a Rock & Roll Rebel: The Lou Reed Tribute

Patti Smith has covered Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" many times and wrapped up her tearful induction speech for the Velvet Underground leader by reciting some of the lyrics, but she ceded the performance stage to a younger generation. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O and Nick Zinner came out first for a fiery "Vicious" from Reed's 1972 classic Transformer backed by Paul Shaffer and his band. Karen wore sunglasses and one of her studded leather jackets, truly capturing the look and vibe of her New York rock forefather. They were followed by Beck, who sang a faithful rendition of "Satellite of Love" complete with horns and backup from fun.'s Nate Ruess that helped recreate the lush sound of the original recording.

Full Report: Karen O, Beck, Nate Ruess Honor Lou Reed at Hall of Fame Induction

Fall Out Boy

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Best Imitation Game: Fall Out Boy Deifies Green Day

Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump briefly went a little Single White Female during the band's loving tribute speech inducting California punk trio Green Day. "I tried to dress like them, I tried to play my dad's music real low like Billie Joe did," he said. "I followed every interview, I watched every TV performance…and the more immersed into the world I got, the more I thought that this band was one of the greatest."

The members of Fall Out Boy took turns trying to define the term "punk" in their speech. Stump bluntly referred to it as "pissing people off," while guitarist Pete Wentz defined it, in part, as having a willingness to buck expectations. "When conventional wisdom demanded another fast rock punk song and instead you put down a stripped-down ballad single that became the go-to prom song for a decade, that was pretty punk rock," he said.

It's a spirit that permeated Green Day's beautifully irreverent acceptance speech, which included bassist Mike Dirnt's shout-out to the Ford Econoline, "the best damn van a smelly touring band can have!"

Full Report: Read Fall Out Boy's Loving Green Day Tribute at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame