NEW YORK Eric Clapton let his guitar do
the talking Monday night as he was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame for an unprecedented third time.
Instead of offering a long-winded speech, the soft-spoken British blues guitarist told the crowd of well-dressed rockers and industry movers, "For me, it's about the music. I'm the messenger and I carry the message."
With that, the rocker, who was previously inducted with the '60s rock bands Cream and the Yardbirds, closed his eyes and performed a
moving, emotive rendition of his hit song "Tears in Heaven," followed by a searing version of the blues standard "Further on Up the Road."
The 15th annual ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel
also included the
induction of such '70s rock and soul stars as the
Lovin' Spoonful, James
Taylor and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as bluesy
The event climaxed hours later with the traditional
jam, which this year featured former Band member
Robbie Robertson, Lovin' Spoonful leader
singer/songwriter James Taylor, R&B singer Natalie
Cole and rocker Melissa
Hall of Famer Robertson inducted Clapton by listing his
including "EC, alias God, alias Slow Hand Clapton," and then joined hiim on guitar for "Further on Down the Road."
Clapton was clean-shaven and wore a black suit, yellow tie and
Old Meets New
In a meeting of the brash new and the brassy old,
risqué rapper Lil' Kim
inducted '70s soul-funk group Earth, Wind & Fire.
"I might be young," Lil' Kim said, sporting a towering
head of blonde hair
offset by a daring hot pink-and-black polka dot
dress. "But I grooved to
Earth, Wind & Fire. These men make music that brings
The group, led by singers Maurice White and Philip
Bailey, scored a number
of funk, soul and disco hits in the '70s, inclduing "Boogie
Wonderland" and "Shining Star." They performed
following their induction, causing a several people in
the audience to jump from
their seats and boogie.
Hall of Famer Paul Simon inducted the 1950s doo-wop
group the Moonglows.
The singer/songwriter spoke of the innocence of youth,
when minds are
open and "we hear and feel in a way that will affect
us for the rest of our
Simon recalled hearing the Moonglows' hit "Sincerely"
excerpt) as a child on famed rock DJ Alan
Freed's "Moondog" radio show in 1955, calling the song
"magical, perfect" record. Leader Harvey Fuqua then
led the band in a
performance of the track that drew a rousing standing
For the first time in the Hall of Fame's history, a
number of rock
'n' roll side musicians were inducted. Mike Stoller of
the songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller inducted
saxophonist King Curtis,
Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore, Motown bassist
James Jamerson, R&B
drummer Earl Palmer and session drummer Hal Blaine,
who performed on a
number of Beach Boys records.
Celebrating Clive Davis
One of the emotional highlights of the evening came
when cathartic rocker
Patti Smith inducted Arista Records President Clive
Davis, who this year
oversaw the unexpected, Grammy-winning return of
Santana. Davis was
inducted in the nonperformer category.
The always intense Smith, wearing a baggy black suit
and loosened tie, was
close to tears during the induction. The singer
longtime executive with teaching her all about the
music business, as well
as giving her the invaluable advice, "Loosen up."
Davis, whose triumphant year was tempered by a battle
with Arista's parent
company BMG over reports of its attempts to force his
serenaded by Smith with a raucous version of the
singer's anthemic call to
arms "People Have the Power" (
"You have risen and are still rising," Smith said to
Early Influences, Big Surprises
Legendary pianist/songwriter Ray Charles inducted
early influence and
fellow singer/pianist Nat "King" Cole, while former
Supremes singer and
solo star Diana Ross paid touching tribute to another
inductee, late jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Singer/songwriter Etheridge inducted blues slide
guitarist Raitt, who made
her name in the 1970s with her distinctive vocals and
guitar style but
didn't reach mass-audience success until her
Grammy-winning 1989 album
Nick of Time.
In one of the night's biggest surprises, former Beatle
Paul McCartney showed up to usher in an artist who began his career on
the Beatles' Apple
Records label in the late '60s, singer/songwriter
Rootsy rocker John Mellencamp inducted the Lovin'
Spoonful, recalling that
during the summer he was 14 the group's hit "Summer in
the City" was a
Artists become eligible for the Rock Hall of Fame 25
years after releasing
their first record, with nearly 800 voters selecting