Great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Superjams - Rolling Stone
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18 Great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Superjams

Axl sings with Bruce; Prince shreds with Petty — relive three decades of all-star performances

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

Mick Jagger and Tina Turner sing with an all-star band at the 4th Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame induction at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, 18th January 1989. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty

Rather than recognizing only past glories, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joyful appreciation of living history. “The people who created this music — the inventors of an entire half-century-old movement — are still around, alive and performing,” noted Bruce Springsteen, a familiar face at the annual induction ceremonies. Ever since the first gathering at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria on January 23rd, 1986, these events have brought together some of music’s finest for show-stopping, genre-defying jam sessions.

One night a year, the rock stars align in unlikely lineups to deliver classic songs in a completely new way. We expect new inductees Cheap Trick, N.W.A, Deep Purple, Chicago and Steve Miller to continue this grand tradition. As the Rock Hall turns 30, we fast-forward through the awards to the real party — when generations of musicians take the stage to swap riffs.

Prince; Rock and Roll hall of Fame

Dhani Harrison and Prince during The 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Show at Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (2004)

Prince, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and Dhani Harrison

No offense to Petty, Lynne and Winwood, but the first few minutes of this performance feel like a slightly stale retread of the star-studded version at 2002's Concert for George. Then Prince steps in with a soaring solo and changes everything. He shreds so hard that he nearly falls off the stage — and he still looks cool. Where was he for the Hendrix tribute back in '92?!

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

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“Let Me Love You Baby” (2005)

B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton

The best part of the Rock Hall induction ceremonies is watching rock greats perform with their heroes. Eric Clapton helped induct his friend Buddy Guy in 2005 alongside fellow blues legend B.B. King. The trio shared killer guitar licks and camaraderie during this seven-minute version of Guy's barnburner. The admiration in Slowhand's eyes says it all.

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

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“Train Kept A-Rollin'” (2009)

Metallica, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, Joe Perry and Flea

"This is rhythm guitar player heaven," joked James Hetfield, gesturing to the nimble-fingered luminaries surrounding him on the stage. "I don't have to compete with this!" With that, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck took it back to their days in the Yardbirds with Tiny Bradshaw's immortal jump blues. A broken string unfortunately crippled Page during the solo battle, but Beck, Joe Petty and Kirk Hammett made up for it.

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

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“Higher Ground” (2012)

Slash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ronnie Wood, Billie Joe Armstrong, Kenny Jones and George Clinton 

Axl Rose was a no-show when Guns N' Roses were honored in 2012, but Slash rocked full speed ahead without him. The top-hatted one took center stage alongside RHCP and friends, and together they took things higher with a Stevie Wonder classic. Audience member George Clinton (and his dreads) provided an extra dose of funk, but poor Billie Joe Armstrong was stuck with a decidedly un-funky acoustic guitar.

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

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“Crossroads” (2013)

Chuck D, Reverend Run, Rush, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Dave Grohl, John Fogerty, Gary Clark Jr., Tom Morello, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Cornell 

"The blues gave birth to rock & roll," Chuck D and Rev Run proclaim in the rap that opens this stunningly diverse jam. By going very old school with a Robert Johnson tune, the Rock Hall vividly demonstrated that so many rock offshoots — including prog, metal, grunge and hip hop — indeed have a shared origin. In this performance, we hear the blues as a crossroads from which pop music traveled in many different directions.

supergroup jams; Rolling Stone; Tina Turner

GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty, Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

“It’s So Easy” (2014)

Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Glenn Frey

Linda Ronstadt was absent from her 2014 induction due to her worsening battle with Parkinson's disease, but a group of legendary ladies were on hand to ensure that her name remained in the spotlight. Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood and Sheryl Crow were among the artists who paid tribute to the singer's influence, performing Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy" and the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved" in the style of Ronstadt's Seventies folk-rock covers. The sole male voice in the chorus? The late, great Glenn Frey, who backed Ronstadt in the pre-Eagles days.

“With a Little Help From My Friends” (2015)

Ringo Starr with Paul McCartney, Green Day, Miley Cyrus, Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith and more.

Ringo Starr became the final Beatle to enter the Hall of Fame as a solo act in 2015 when he was given the Award For Musical Excellence by Paul McCartney. “As all the other drummers say, he just is something so special,” McCartney said. “When he’s playing behind you, you see these other bands, they’re looking around at the drummer, like, is he going to speed up, is he going to slow down? You don’t have to look with Ringo.” At the end of the night, Ringo played “With a Little Help From My Friends” with McCartney, Green Day, Miley Cyrus, Beck, Joe Walsh, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Gary Clark Jr., Dave Grohl and many others. 

“Ain’t That a Shame” (2016)

Steve Miller with Cheap Trick, Deep Purple Chicago, Steve Van Zandt and more.

The 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will go down in history as the night that Steve Miller unloaded on the institution in a backstage tirade to the press, but even Miller couldn’t hold back a grin at the end of the evening when he joined Cheap Trick and all the other performers of the evening on “Ain’t That a Shame.” Cheap Trick had been playing the Fats Domino song in their live set for decades, but on this evening they got to play it with Deep Purple, Chicago, Steve Van Zandt, Sheryl Crow and Rob Thomas. It also probably marked the final time the group will ever play in public with former drummer Bun E. Carlos. Relations grew toxic when he left the group in 2010, but for this single evening they buried the hatchet. 

“Rockin’ in the Free World” (2017)

Pearl Jam with Dhani Harrison, plus members of Journey, Yes and Rush.

Neil Young bailed on inducting Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly before the ceremony, citing illness, but that didn’t stop the group from wrapping up the epic evening with his 1989 classic “Rockin’ in the Free World.” The incredible rendition featured Journey’s Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon, Yes’ Trevor Rabin, Dhani Harrison, and Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Only at the Hall of Fame could such a thing happen. It also marked the only time that two Pearl Jam members (Matt Cameron and Dave Krusen) shared a single drum kit. 

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