NEW YORK — Outkast, Alicia Keys, Kid Rock and Dave Matthews were just a few of the artists who introduced their favorite new inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday night.
At the celebration, held as usual at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Outkast and Keys ushered in Prince, Kid Rock introduced Bob Seger, Matthews honored Traffic, Bruce Springsteen greeted Jackson Browne, and the late George Harrison was inducted by his former Traveling Wilburys cohorts Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Also inducted: the Dells, ZZ Top and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.
The four-hour event featured film montages of the inductees, lengthy speeches and performances from everyone who was inducted. The show, capped by an all-star jam, will air Sunday on VH1.
Before the event began, many of the inductees and artists introducing them walked the red carpet to pose for pictures and sing each other’s praises. “Prince’s performances are always such an inspiration,” Keys said. “I love his songwriting, his music, just him as an individual. So I’m looking forward to helping to put him where he belongs.”
|Click here for photos from the ceremony|
“God, I’ve been a nervous wreck about the whole thing,” Kid Rock said about inducting childhood hero Seger. “Being from Michigan and Detroit, it’s like Bob Seger is shot into your veins as a kid. We were just raised on it. I just wanna make everyone from the hometown proud and really give him his dues. I think he’s really one of the most underrated singer/songwriter heroes of our generation.”
The ceremony began with a film collage of artists who died in 2003, accompanied by Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” and the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”
Then the hall paid tribute to Prince. “Back in the day, entertainers were singers, they were dancers, they had great style, they had great personality,” Outkast’s Andre 3000 said in his introduction. “We’ve lost a lot of that today, and so when it comes for me to do music, Prince is most definitely one of my greatest inspirations.”
Prince’s acceptance speech was brief and sentimental. He even thanked Warner Bros., with which he battled for years and once protested by writing “Slave” across his face to illustrate the label’s ownership over him. “When I first started out in this music industry I was most concerned with freedom,” he began. “Freedom to produce, freedom to play all the instruments on my records, freedom to say anything I wanted to. And after much negotiation, Warner Bros. Records granted me that freedom, and I thank them.”
Instead of thanking his mentors and peers, Prince talked about how he discovered the importance of spirituality and friendship. “All praise and thanks to Jehovah,” he said. “Without any real spiritual mentors other than artists whose records I admired, I embarked on a journey more fascinating than I could have ever imagined. But a word to the wise: Without real spiritual mentoring, too much freedom can lead to the soul’s decay.”
During his performance, Prince played an energized medley of “Let’s Go Crazy” “Sign ’O’ the Times” and “Kiss.”
Traffic played a lengthy version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” replete with expressive guitar and keyboard solos; Seger played the dusky, reflective “Turn the Page”; and Browne performed emotive versions of “The Pretender” and “Running on Empty.”
When Springsteen introduced Browne, he praised the singer’s politics and songwriting but was even more effusive about his power over the ladies. “Jackson Browne was a rock and roll sex star. … At a time when we were drawing rooms full of men, Jackson was drawing more women than an Indigo Girls concert.”
About 30 minutes later, a slightly flustered Kid Rock began his introduction of Seger by saying, “I’m freaked out because Bruce Springsteen is talking about all the women that went to Jackson Browne’s shows and how good lookin’ they were. My mom used to go to those shows.”
Sixties doo-wop and R&B group the Dells were introduced by filmmaker Robert Townsend, who based the singing group in his 1991 movie, “The Five Heartbeats,” on the Dells.
Mick Jagger introduced Wenner, and Keith Richards introduced ZZ Top. During their set, the Texas boogie band played “La Grange” and “Tush.”
After Harrison was inducted, Tom Petty, ELO’s Jeff Lynne and Harrison’s son performed the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care” and the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
The show ended with a mega-jam of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” and Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright,” in which most of the new inductees performed, along with Richards.
Musicians qualify for induction once they’ve been in the business for 25 years; they are then voted on by a committee of peers and industry professionals.
The 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT. For more information, visit VH1.com.