Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony: Eyewitness report

hall-of-fameImage Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images“The class of 2010 represents diversity!” So said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame head honcho Jann Wenner at the start of this year’s induction shindig, which was held Monday evening in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Whether that was the sound of a man relishing rock’s rich pageant or making lemonade out of some collectively strange-tasting lemons is a debatable point. But there’s no doubt this year’s crop of inductees—Genesis, the Hollies, the Stooges, Jimmy Cliff, and ABBA—had very little in common, save a willingness to turn up and be feted by their musical peers at the annual celebration of rockitude.

The performances were as varied as the terpsichoreal stylings. Genesis, for example, didn’t play at all, leaving Phish to competently tackle chunks of the prog-rockers’ back catalog. Meanwhile, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff tore the place up with renditions of his classic tracks “You Can Get it if You Really Want,” “Many Rivers To Cross,” and a Wyclef Jean-assisted “The Harder They Come.” Cliff and his fabulous silver jacket even topped Iggy Pop, who, it is perhaps needless to note, went shirtless fronting the Stooges as they stormed through “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” ABBA were represented musically by Benny Andersson, who accompanied Faith Hill on piano for a version of “The Winner Takes It All,” and the Hollies sounded merely like an agreeable-ish wedding band, despite boasting the vocal talents of both Graham Nash and Adam Levine from Maroon 5.

Actually, attending the chicken dinner-featuring event was very much like going to someone’s nuptials, except that instead of the best man making a speech about the time the groom got an unfortunate rash in Amsterdam, Phish’s Trey Anastasio illuminated us on the excellence of Genesis’ complex time signatures. And that was by no means the end of the speechifying.  Steven Van Zandt took time out to note the current “spiritual bankruptcy” of the record business when he inducted the Hollies, Billie Joe Armstrong recited a lengthy list of the acts that had been inspired by the Stooges—one that concluded with “…and my own f—ing band”— and Iggy Pop himself appeared close to tears as he ruminated on his reformed combo’s “lovely, lovely, second act.”

Finally, Benny Andersson pointed out that while his native Sweden may not be steeped in blues music, it is steeped in being darned cold, which he claimed explains both the films of Ingmar Bergman and the more melancholic moments of ABBA’s own oeuvre. Thank you for the entertaining amateur psychology, Benny! And, of course, the music.

So, what do you think of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees? And who would you like to see get the nod in 2011? Let us know!

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
The Lonely Island and Julian Casablancas’ “Boombox” comes to SNL (finally!)
The Specials: Terry Hall and Lynval Golding on the ska-rock legends’ reunion shows—and why their absent keyboard player is a ‘Scrooge’
Craig Robinson from ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ sings ‘Jessie’s Girl’
OK Go depart EMI following criticism of the company, set up own label with two dogs
Adam Lambert ‘Unplugged’: Watch his VH1 performances here
Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ video

Comments (64 total) Add your comment
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  • LAJackie

    So happy to see Abba inducted. Their music never fails to either make me really happy or move me to tears. I love them.

  • Dan Evans

    How the hell is Linda Ronstadt not in the Hall??!! It’s a complete travesty!

    • Sally in Chicago

      You get no complaint from me. Not only that, why is the Hall of Fame ceremonies held in NYC and the actual building in Cleveland? Talk about stupid.

  • Lee Harvey

    Rush, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and KISS should be in the Rock Hall, just to name a few.

  • Todd

    Great to see the Hollies inducted. Too bad some of the guys weren’t able to come, but it was great to see Allan Clarke and Graham Nash sing together again. Now if only we get the Monkees, Ringo Starr, the Moody Blues, Chicago and Badfinger into the Hall of Fame…

    • GG

      The Moody Blues are on the top of my list. They deserve to be in the Rock and Roll hall of fame!

    • Penny Dreadful

      Little Steven’s speech was the worst induction speech I’ve ever seen. Hey Steve! You’re supposed to talk about a band and its musical legacy, not prattle on about the music industry. He barely acknowledged the Hollies, the band he was inducting.

  • Cara K

    I’m so glad Genesis were inducted! Their music is just so great from so many different perspectives (which makes sense, seeing how many phases they went through.) From super-long very complex rock symphonies to simple love songs, their took their many musical influences (classical, jazz, rock, folk) and created something new. Genesis rocks!!!

    • KM SHEPHERD

      It was great to see Genesis finally get into the Hall. I just came back from the R&RHofF and enjoyed the exhibits. I think Springsteen must have part ownership in the place. I wish Genesis had had more items on display like a Fox mask and red dress!! Apart from a program and Rutherford’s double guitar that was about it. Hear is something for thought. What about Bryan Adams for the Hall? He has been eligible since 2005. He is certainly an international star and although I am biased, being a Canadian I really believe he should be there – along with Rush of course! What do you think?

  • Rock Fan

    Alice Cooper & Rush need to be in. The fact Metallica is in before them is a travesty! And now ABBA joins Madonna. The Rock & Roll Hall of Sham(e) is more like it! Jann Wenner is to far up the *$$es of the corporate record company shills to be in charge anymore. It’s time for a change to make it a REAL Rock HoF!!!

    • Tim

      Oh please…stop the snobbery crap. MADONNA and ABBA are both legendary musical acts that changed the musical landscape, and to this day their music is considered some of the best pop of all time. And yes, I do know that this is called the ROCK N ROLL hall of fame. Rock N Roll is more a state of mind,a whole lifestyle and a musical current, than a specific genre. I’ll give you Rush, but Alice Cooper was just a shock rocker whose music really wasn’t that good.

      • thejman

        You’re being silly. Rock and Roll is, by definition, a genre. If you went to the symphony for a classical concert and you wouldn’t be expecting a classical “state of mind.” And, by your Cooper example, you feel the music should be GOOD. Madonna?

  • CVWorld

    Jimmy Cliff sounded amazing!

    • Christa

      My thoughts exactly. It was weird seeing them on tv since I never get that privilege. They rocked, of course! (Don’t like seeing Fishman in a tie, however. Made me uneasy.)

  • Jason Cooper

    Glad to see Phish on TV. Now the media can go back to ignoring them. : /

    • pnz

      Totally. Lucky for us phans, I don’t think this will catapult them to super-stardom any time soon.

  • Scott R

    The detour into the Scandanavian psyche notwithstanding, Benny in his speech did a great job of pinpointing the significance of what ABBA achieved, melding American rock, European folk, classical music and a range of other influences into the first successful act to truly achieve worldwide success without being part of the US or UK music establishment. A great accomplishment and deserving of recognition by the Hall of Fame.

    • Ron

      Nicely said! Congrats to ABBA!

  • Rich

    I was not happy with Faith Hill doing ABBA. She seems to be under the impression that volume equals emotion, it does not. Meryl Streep, who was there, did a better job with the sone in the movie than Hill did last night. Since so many seem to disagree on who should be in the Hall, they should put in one more inductee each year chosen by the public rather than the industry. The five chosen by the industry are fine, but let the fans, the ones who buy the records and tickets, have a say on one inductee per year.

    • ALM

      I was looking forward to hearing Faith’s version of WTIA, but I was disappointed. I think she was using volume to mask the fact she was finding some of the notes hard to hit–maybe she should have dropped it a key or two.

  • matkojapan

    wow! so shocked Rush isn’t in yet! wtf?

  • Peggy

    Alice Cooper is more than a shock-rocker-listen to his lyrics. And he puts on one hell of a show! KISS owe him big time! And I agree-Linda Rondstadt and Chicago belong in the Hall. Come on Jann W-make it happen.

  • Damon

    I’m waiting for Janet Jackson’s induction!!!

    • Al

      I hope your patient!

    • highlander

      Keep waiting, pal

  • Mark

    RUSH needs to be inducted next year. Period.

  • rockdog

    When ABBA makes it into the ROCK & ROLL Hall of Fame before Stevie Ray Vaughan or Alvin Lee & Ten Years After there is a serious problem… until SRV is inducted, the RnRHoF is a huge JOKE!

    • Fantomex

      Did you hear Benny (ABBA lead singer’s) speech? You’ll find out the reason why

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