Set List Bonus: 2013 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
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By Tim McPhate
As I settled into my seat at the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 18, I suddenly felt a strange familiar feeling: a hint of nostalgia, an indescribable excitement and a sense of anticipation. It all felt eerily similar to a graduation ceremony. I can only imagine what it felt like for the "class of 2013."
During his introductory remarks, Rock Hall co-founder Jann Wenner paid his respects to this year's inductees, citing them as "the artists who have formed the soundtrack to our lives." Indeed, the 2013 class makes for an eclectic playlist, from the Queen of Disco Donna Summer, Seattle rock band Heart and producers extraordinaire Lou Adler and Quincy Jones to rap visionaries Public Enemy, master songwriter/composer Randy Newman, legendary bluesman Albert King, and Canadian progressive rock trio Rush.
Newman kicked off the festivities with the hometown favorite "I Love L.A." He was joined by the formidable trio of Jackson Browne, John Fogerty and Tom Petty, who each played guitar and took turns helping Newman with vocal duties.
A cheerful Don Henley praised Newman's talents as both a film composer and writer of songs reflecting disparate themes such as social commentary, humor and relationships, while adding it was "about time" Newman was inducted some 20 years after becoming eligible. Henley then lent vocals to Newman's performance of the satirical "I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It)."
"Who is this guy again?" asked Tommy Chong. "He signed us, eh," joked Cheech Marin. The classic comedy duo Cheech & Chong were of course referring to Lou Adler, another hometown hero whose golden career has been marked by his Midas work in the studio with artists such as the Mamas And The Papas, Sam Cooke and Carole King. Adler also produced albums and films for Cheech & Chong.
During his classy speech, Adler said, referring to King, "It is impossible to measure the joy of working with you." He also thanked the many songwriters, artists, label executives, and musicians with whom he worked, before closing with an acknowledgment to his family and his Lakers courtside seat pal Jack Nicholson, who was also in attendance.
King subsequently graced the stage with a heartfelt performance of "So Far Away" from her GRAMMY-winning 1971 Album Of The Year Tapestry, which Adler produced.
"This is the coolest thing I'll ever do in my life," said a Gibson Flying V-clutching John Mayer regarding his induction of Albert King, whose 1967 album, Born Under A Bad Sign was described by Mayer as "the perfect blues album" and is considered one of the crown jewels in the Stax Records catalog. King's tribute performance was highlighted by a down-and-dirty reading of "Born Under A Bad Sign" featuring licks courtesy of Mayer and hot-shot bluesman Gary Clark Jr.
Praising her "voice sent from above" and "ability to give life to a character," Kelly Rowland had the privilege of inducting the late Donna Summer. Jennifer Hudson — who was honored at the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards in Washington, D.C., on April 17 — commanded the stage with the sultry one-two punch of "Bad Girls" and "Last Dance," which had Flavor Flav and Rush's Geddy Lee grooving and smiling throughout.
Oprah Winfrey, who admitted she was "at a loss for words," presented Quincy Jones with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement, acknowledging the venerable titan for "discovering" her by landing her the role of Sofia in the 1985 film The Color Purple. During his lengthy speech, Jones cited artists such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday as "the cats that are my Beatles and my Rolling Stones."
One cool cat himself, GRAMMY winner Usher channeled Michael Jackson during a performance of "Rock With You," from Jackson's 1979 album Off The Wall, which Jones co-produced.
Spike Lee reminisced about the summer of 1989, when Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" became an "anthem for young Black America." Singer/actor Harry Belafonte helped induct the rap group, making the case for the cultural relevance and impact of the genre and describing the music of Public Enemy as "radical and revolutionary."
With a speech that easily eclipsed Jones' for longest of the night, Flavor Flav gave a shout out to everyone twice, including God. Chuck D graciously thanked his Public Enemy cohorts while also giving props to a diverse stable of influential artists, including Kiss, Deep Purple, Rush, Chic, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys.
In one of the more supercharged performances of the evening, Public Enemy closed with a medley of "Public Enemy No. 1," "Get Up Stand Up" and "Fight The Power," which garnered fist pumps from Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and Run-D.M.C.'s Darryl McDaniels.
Chris Cornell paid tribute to the "elder stateswomen" of the Pacific Northwest, referring to Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, sisters who blazed a trail for other female performers in the male-dominated music industry, proving they could back up their beauty with plenty of talent.
Joined at the dais by original bandmates Howard Leese (guitar), Roger Fisher (guitar), Steve Fossen (bass), and Michael DeRosier (drums), an eloquent Nancy Wilson described music as a "real church that makes us all equal and perfectly human."
Performing together for the first time in more than 30 years, the original Heart lineup ran through the rock radio staple "Crazy On You." The Wilsons followed with a performance of the quiet title track to their 1976 debut album, Dreamboat Annie. Finally, the classic "Barracuda" never sounded grittier as the current Heart lineup was joined by Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready.
"When the f*** did Rush become cool?" barked Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, garnering a deafening applause from the many Rush fans in attendance. "They've always been cool," Grohl said, answering his own question.
In what was arguably the most entertaining round of acceptance speeches of the evening, eloquent Rush drummer Neil Peart quoted Bob Dylan by saying, "The highest purpose of art is to inspire." Bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee joked that the ceremony was "a little overwhelming for a nice Jewish boy from Toronto" while adding this was an "honor we share with the fans." Alex Lifeson's speech can be hilariously summed up in one word: "Blah."
The audience was soon transported back to 1976 as Grohl, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz appeared onstage in disguise wearing kimonos and sporting wavy hair, poking fun at Rush's fashion ensembles inside the album jacket for 1976's 2112 and convincingly turning in a performance of the overture portion of the title track. The real Rush then emerged to perform two of their biggest radio hits, "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit Of Radio." Peart's clocklike precision, Lee's inimitable vocals and Lifeson's soaring guitar proved why Rush are still a rock force to be reckoned with.
With the crowd wanting one last charge, an all-star cast including the Wilson sisters, Rush, Tom Morello, Chuck D, Clark, Fogerty, Cornell, McDaniels, Grohl, and Hawkins emerged for a spirited performance of Robert Johnson's timeless "Crossroads," trading smiles and basking in the final moments of this celebratory "graduation."
On this evening, the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live was indeed a church built upon the perfectly human bond of music. Tune in to the ceremony May 18 on HBO.
"I Love L.A" (with Jackson Browne, John Fogerty and Tom Petty)
"I Think It's Going To Rain Today"
"I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It)" (with Don Henley)
"So Far Away" (Carole King)
"Oh Pretty Woman" (Gary Clark Jr.)
"Born Under A Bad Sign" (Gary Clark Jr., Booker T. Jones and John Mayer)
"Bad Girls" (Jennifer Hudson)
"Last Dance" (Jennifer Hudson)
"Rock With You" (Michael Jackson cover performed by Usher)
"Public Enemy No. 1"
"Get Up Stand Up"
"Fight The Power"
"Crazy On You" (original Heart lineup)
"Dreamboat Annie" (Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson)
"Barracuda" (current Heart lineup with Jerry Cantrell, Chris Cornell and Mike McCready)
"2112 I. Overture" (Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and Nick Raskulinecz)
"The Spirit Of Radio"
"Crossroads" (all-star jam)