Each year, Rock & Roll’s greatest assemble to honour those who have served – and salved – to rock. Many genres have graced the hallowed halls of this institution, as they annually recognise contributions made to the world of rock music, which all gives us reasons to live. Some are honoured too late, having passed away before receiving their well deserved rewards, whilst others are lucky enough to be alive and perform on the evening as well. This year was the 30th Annual Induction Ceremony, which honoured Joan Jett, Ringo Starr, Green Day, Lou Reed, Bill Withers, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and The “5” Royales. Information can be hard to sift through of these kind of events, so we have cut it down to what you need to know about what went on.
Inducted by Miley Cyrus, the young pop star detailed the “first time she ever wanted to have sex with Joan”, and reminisced about the two smoking pot together before going on Oprah, Joan Jett said after her induction, “I come from a place where rock & roll means something. It means more than music, more than fashion, more than a good pose. It’s a language of a subculture that makes eternal teenagers out of all who follow it. It’s a subculture of rebellion, integrity, frustration, alienation and the glue that set several generations free of unnatural societal and self-suppression.” She was joined on stage by Dave Grohl to perform The Runaways biggest song Cherry Bomb after a blistering performance of Bad Reputation. Tommy James and Cyrus also joined her to perform Crimson and Clover.
Inducted by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr is the final Beatle to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. McCartney introduced and inducted his friend by saying, “Ringo is just something so special. When he’s playing behind you, you don’t have to look and wonder if he’s going to speed up or slow down. It’s just there. It’s a great honour for me to induce him — oh, induct him — into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” Starr went onto give the longest speech of the night apparently, and offered up some advice of the utmost importance – “”When you’re in a van, and you fart, own up. It’ll cause hell if you don’t own up because everyone will blame everyone else. Make a pact that you’ll own up to it. We did and that’s why we did so well.” Starr was backed by Green Day for Boys, and remained on stage as everyone else came on to sing With A Little Help From My Friends. Starr then took to the drum kit for I Wanna Be Your Man, jamming with Billie Joe Armstrong and Tom Morello both whipping out guitar solos, Stevie Wonder a harmonica solo and Paul jumping on to sing a verse. Celeb jams at it’s finest.
In what some think is a strange move, Fall Out Boy inducted Green Day. “The more immersed in their world I got, the more I could tell that this band was one of the greats,” lead singer Patrick Stump said. Billie Joe Armstrong gushed a little in his speech, saying “I love rock & roll music. I have from the first moment I opened my eyes and took my first breath.” The band, who are still selling out stadiums and are all recently only 40, then performed their biggest hits in American Idiot, When I Come Around and Basket Case.
Inducted by Patti Smith, Lou sadly passed away in 2013. Smith, clearly overcome with still very present grief couldn’t fight back tears as she praised her late friend. “He was a humanist, heralding and raising the downtrodden,” she said. “His subjects were his royalty that he crowned in his lyrics without judgement or irony. . .His consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice.” The award was accepted by Reed’s wife Laurie Andersen, who went onto say, “Lou understood pain and he understood beauty,” she said. “He knew these two were often intertwined. That was what energized him and made him vibrate. . .You change forever when you have the love of your life die in your arms. When Lou died in my arms, I watched as he did tai chi with his hands. I watched the joy and surprise that came over his face when he died.” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and Nick Zinner performed Vicious after which Beck performed Satellite of Love.
Inducted by Stevie Wonder, it’s been 25 years since Withers’ last public performance, and more than that since his last release. Wonder said of the famous singer, “His songs were written for every single culture there is. Think of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ when she’s gone. He’s talking about a relationship where somebody is not around. As much as it’s about that situation, today I think about those 200 young girls in Nigeria that have been taken away.” Withers unfortunately didn’t perform on the night, and instead joined in for the final chorus of Lean On Me, which was lead by John Legend and Stevie Wonder. The latter also performed Ain’t No Sunshine, whilst Legend came out to sing Use Me before the finale.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Tom Morello and Zac Brown took to the stage to rip into Born in Chicago, the fiery blues-rock number by the Chicago legends, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Although Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield had passed away some years ago, their families and remaining band members accepted their awards on their behalf. Guitarist Elvin Bishop put things into an interesting perspective by remembering “A time when there was no rock & roll. That’s why I appreciate this so much. When I was a little kid, the best a young person do for pop music was guys like Perry Como and Lita Roza singing ‘(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?'” The surviving members then performed for the first time in over 40 years, choosing to play their cover of Muddy Waters‘ Got My Mojo Working.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
John Mayer delivered a beautiful speech about the effects of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his music; “There’s a term that gets thrown around in conversation, especially about guitar payers, where someone is called a ‘wannabe.’ It means you’re a fake, a fraud, a phony. But if you straighten the words out, it means ‘want to be.’ Wanting to be something is very important, it’s meaningful, it’s a great way to live. I’m a Stevie Ray Vaughan wannabe.” Stevie Ray’s brother Jimmie spoke about facing addiction together, saying, “Every day I wake up clean and sober and I think of my brother. In the end, little brother taught big brother.” Double Trouble, Mayer, Gary Clark Jr and Doyle Bramhall II all performed together, sharing the load that is Vaughan’s extensive guitar work. They performed Texas Flood and Pride and Joy, before Jimmie performed a tribute song he had written titled Six Strings Down. “Heaven done called another blues-stringer back home,” he sung.
The “5” Royales
The least familiar act of the night was the 1950’s R&B group The “5” Royales, but were briefly enlightened by Booker T. and Steve Cropper. Their songs have been covered by Ray Charles, The Mamas and The Papas and even Mick Jagger, and, although there are no remaining members of the band, Leon Bridges led a rendition of their biggest song, Dedicated To The One I Love for the In Memorial segment.