Dolly Parton joins Eminem, Duran Duran in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: 'Guess I'm a rock star now'

LOS ANGELES – Country music legend Dolly Parton summed up an unusual, diverse class of incoming musicians, speaking from Saturday's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2022 induction ceremony at the Microsoft Theater.

"I guess I'm a rock star now," Parton, 76, said happily after accepting the honor, joining Lionel Richie, Duran Duran, Eminem, Judas Priest, Pat Benatar, Carly Simon and the Eurythmics in the current class.

Parton – who had originally asked the Rock Hall to withdraw her nomination because she hadn't earned the right – embraced her emerging rock self Saturday, even changing into a black leather rocker ensemble to perform an electric guitar number she had written especially for the event.

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"Since I'm going to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I'm going to write a song for it," said Parton, promising a rock album to an audience that included Bruce Springsteen, U2's The Edge, Sheryl Crow and Dave Grohl. "Any of you rock stars going to help me out on that? Because I'm going to hold you to it."

Parton's entree came at the end of a bloated, 5½-hour event that will be edited extensively and aired on HBO Nov. 19.

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Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the festivities, introducing Duran Duran like a fanboy.

"I’m a lucky dude to be here tonight," said Downey Jr., who recalled the universal fervor around the band, including when Duran Duran played at his blowout 50th birthday party. "Halfway through 'Rio,' the wife of this prominent director tore off her bra and threw it on stage."

Inductees Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran speak onstage during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Inductees Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran speak onstage during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

After being denied entry by the Rock Hall for 17 years, Duran Duran  showed their power during a stage medley that included "Girls on Film," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Ordinary World."

But Duran Duran's evening was bittersweet, as original guitarist Andy Taylor was unable to join them onstage because of his Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

Lead singer Simon Le Bon read an open letter at the lectern from Taylor, who expressed his disappointment at missing the ceremony after suffering a major health setback.

"Let there be no doubt I was stoked about the whole thing, even bought a new guitar with the essential whammy," Taylor's letter said of the induction. "I often doubted the day would come. I'm sure as hell glad I'm around to see the day."

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After a glowing introduction by Sheryl Crow, Benatar, 69, was inducted with longtime bandmate and husband of 43 years, guitarist Neil Giraldo. Benatar, a classically trained musician, gave thanks for their family, which includes two grown daughters and three grandchildren.

"It has been an incredible ride," Benatar said. "To my partner and love, 43 years ago in a rehearsal studio, could you have imagined this night?"

After his introduction from Lenny Kravitz, onetime Commodore Richie, 73, said it was a good thing that the hall was moving beyond purists' parameters for rock music.

"Rock 'n' roll is not a color, it is a feeling, it is a vibe," Richie said. "And if we let this vibe come through, this room will only grow and grow."

Richie thanked his family present, including daughters Nicole and Sofia, for enduring his traveling through "my magical mystery tour" of a career, adding that it wasn't going to end soon.

"I'm probably not coming home for quite a while," he said. "I'm in love with this business."

Detroit's Eminem was inducted by longtime collaborator Dr. Dre, who praised the "underdog" white rapper who "broke the glass ceiling" to become one of the best-selling hip-hop artists ever.

"I’m probably not supposed to actually be here tonight for a couple of reasons," Eminem said as he accepted the honor. "I know that I’m a rapper and this is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."

Onstage, Eminem performed portions of his hit "My Name Is," then brought on Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to sing the "Dream On" chorus for "Sing for the Moment."  As rain fell on the stage, the hoodie-wearing Eminem brought on Ed Sheeran to sing his part in "Stan."

"I realize right now what an honor it is right now for me to be up here tonight," said Eminem from the lectern. "And what a privilege it is to do the music I love – music that basically saved my life."

Parton helped close out the evening with her country classic "Jolene," performed with an all-star ensemble that included Crow and Brandi Carlile – as well as fellow inductees Le Bon, Benatar, a cowboy hat-wearing Annie Lennox and Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford.

"Congratulations to everybody up here," Parton said. "I feel like a hillbilly in the city."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dolly Parton joins Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Eminem, Duran Duran