The stars descended upon Cleveland this weekend for the 33rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The Saturday evening soiree capped off a week-long celebration at the Rock Hall of Fame and Museum, where special events included a jam by Bon Jovi guitar hero Richie Sambora and female fret boarder Orianthi and a “Sessions” Q&A with The Moody Blues. Members of Bon Jovi and the Moodies were on hand Friday afternoon for a dedication ceremony at the newly-refurbished “Power of Rock” wing on the museum’s fourth floor.
But the balmy temperatures dropped overnight Friday and sunshine turned to showers as the Rock Hall unfurled its red carpet for the ceremony itself. Nevertheless, hundreds of enthusiastic fans lined up on East Mall Avenue, braving a frigid chill and damp weather to watch their favorite bands and celebrities arrive and enter the auditorium at dinnertime on Saturday.
The luminaries included Moody Blues members Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge, and ex-keyboardist Mike Pinder; Bon Jovi members Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, Tico Torres, and former members Sambora and bassist Alec John Such; Dire Straits musicians John Illsley and Guy Fletcher; Questlove and The Roots; shock jock Howard Stern; Ann Wilson of Heart; Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, members of The Killers; and friends and family representing soul-singer Simone and guitar-slinger Tharpe.
Indoors, Brandon Flowers and The Killers kicked off the party with a touching (but upbeat) “American Girl” tribute to Tom Petty, who passed away in October. Later, Wilson and Cantrell saluted Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell with their version of “Black Hole Sun.”
Cornell died at 52 last May.
Bon Jovi took the evening’s first honors. Following a funny but raunchy, Jan Wenner-bashing introduction by Stern, Jon Bon Jovi and his mates gave thankful speeches and submitted a five-song mini concert that included ‘80s smashes “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and late ‘90s gem “It’s My Life.”
Dire Straits essentially inducted themselves. Minus guitar-playing brothers Mark and David Knopfler, who elected not to show for “personal reasons,” the “Sultans of Swing” group gave quiet, humble speeches…but did not perform.
Lauren Hill and R&B singer Andra Day teamed with The Roots on soul-stirring salutes to Nina Simone. The Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard joined forces with Felicia Collins on several Sister Rosetta Tharpe songs.
The Cars—featuring Ric Ocasek, Elliott Easton, David Robinson, and Greg Hawkes—spoke highly of band bassist Benjamin Orr, who passed away in 2000. The Boston-based pop group has Cleveland ties, too: Ocasek’s father worked at NASA while he attended Bowling Green State University, while Orr grew up in Parma. Weezer bassist Scott Shriner filled in for Orr on performances of ‘80s hits “Best Friend’s Girl,” “Moving in Stereo,” and “Just What I Needed.”
Last but certainly not least, The Moody Blues—who’ve been eligible but overlooked for induction since 1990—closed out the night with poetic (literally) performances of “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band,” “Nights in White Satin,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Ride My Seesaw.”
An image of flutist Ray Thomas was projected on a big screen backdrop during “Nights.” Thomas died suddenly earlier this year.
The British band delivered the most eloquent, to-the-point thank-you speeches following a wonderful intro by Ann Wilson. Lodge and Hayward thanked their family, fans, and disc jockeys Stern, “Mancow,” and spoke highly of Thomas.
“This is your Hall of Fame!” Lodge told fans.
Hayward said the Rock Hall has a different meaning in their Birmingham home, where an older woman asked him when he was being “induced.”
The professorial-looking Edge promised he wouldn’t ramble. “I’m 77 years old…I haven’t got time!” the drummer joked.
“I used to have sour grapes about being passed over,” he added. “But to have it now, well, it means the world to me.”
Former Magnificent Moody Denny Laine (of Paul McCartney and Wings) was also inducted with Thomas with the band, but he graciously kept his speech short and deferred to the long-timers.
Laine sang the hit “Go Now” in the earliest iteration of the 50-plus-year old group (Days of Future Passed was issued in 1967).
The 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions will air on HBO on Saturday, May 5 at 8:00 (ET/PT). This year’s red carpet event was live-streamed for the first time ever at rockhall.com (and on the Rock Hall Facebook and YouTube pages), with VH-1 beauty Carrie Keagan welcoming and interviewing early-arriving bigwigs.
Once held exclusively in New York, where Jan Wenner’s Rock Hall committee keeps its headquarters, the induction ceremonies will now take place in Cleveland every other year.
The 2018 event was Cleveland’s fifth rockin’ rodeo. Nearly 200 volunteers put in 500 hours of work for the extravaganza, and twenty big-rig trucks dumped over 350 lights, 15 guitar rigs, 12 keyboards, 8 drum sets, and 7 bass rigs on the historic Public Hall backline.