Kid Rock inducted fellow Midwestern rockers Cheap Trick into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday night. This marks his third time inducting an act into the Hall; Rock had previously been on hand to induct Aerosmith in 2001, and he returned in 2004 to induct his close friend and biggest musical inspiration Bob Seger.
Rock’s speech honoring the power-pop legends was a lively and sincere one, even though the two acts’ musical styles might seem far apart. Here’s what the down-home rocker had to say about the legendary Illinois power-pop band.
Has anyone been keeping tabs on what the fuck has been going on here tonight? Quick recap in my mind … Who knew Lars Ulrich, the fucking drummer from Metallica, was such a great speaker? Right? Awesome. Then we’ve got Ice Cube telling people to stay in school and then the drummer from Chicago turns out to be the fucking badass: “Fuck the establishment! I’ll do what I want!” As long as we’re keeping it real, I’d like to really quickly address the issue of drugs in America. If you do drugs, kids, there’s a good chance you’re going to ruin your life.
But there’s also a pretty good fucking chance you’ll end up in a band and be rich and bang hot chicks. Here’s a little secret about bands: We all think we’re great live. There’s not a band in this room or in the world that doesn’t think it’s really a live band. You think you can rip the roof off of any room. You think you can make a basement club feel like the Garden. And you think you do it better than anyone else. Then you go and see Cheap Trick.
That’s when you think, “Man, we kind of suck. I gotta to step up my game.” They’re a club band, a bar band, a working band, every sense of those words. They’re relentless, precise, powerful. If she’s tight, they’re tighter.
It’s a little innuendo. … When disco and soft rock had taken over our radio – thank God I wasn’t alive then – they were exactly what we needed, a garage band in sheep’s clothing. They had a punk soul, a pop heartbeat and Beatles ambitions. They even worked with George Martin. And he said Cheap Trick was his favorite band to work with that wasn’t from Liverpool. I didn’t write that line. You can’t not watch them. Their frontman is a matinee idol who can growl, croon or swagger. And the guitarist looks like a Teddy Boy on acid. …
They were always onstage, every throwaway gig, every photo shoot, every interview. They worked the room like it was Soldier Field. …
Cheap Trick was so big, so loud, so fast that it took a live album to catch the fury. “Surrender,” “I Want You to Want Me.” These are great songs, but live, they became anthems. It took us a while to figure it out. They were made in the USA, but Japan caught on before we did. A lot of bands think, “We’re big in Japan.” I’m fucking big in Kentucky. But Cheap Trick is the only one they call the American Beatles. After that, the world exploded for them. It look like success came out of nowhere, but trust me, they worked for it. Of course they did. They’ve got Midwestern heart.
They’ve got Illinois shoulders. That’s why … more than 40 years later, 40 fucking years, and more than 5,000 gigs, they’re still going strong. They’ve been on the road. They’ve been knocked down, but they’ve never stopped and they’re still out there racking up the miles and playing every show like it’s their first. You don’t think so? These crazy fucks got three more gigs this week.
Recycling shit, I’m not that great. I’m a rapper – I sample. Maybe it’s that Midwestern work ethic and maybe it’s because as they put it, “We’re too dumb to quit.” Either way, we’re glad they put in the hours. So I’m honored to induct, from Rockford, Illinois …