Each of the 37 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies have had classic, once-in-a-lifetime moments, far too many to list. But they also often stretch well past the five-hour mark, and even with a fair number of those classic, once-in-a-lifetime moments, let’s be honest, the only thing that any sane person wants to do for five-plus straight hours is sleep.
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But with Dolly Parton (inducted by Pink), Eminem (inducted by Dr. Dre), Eurythmics (inducted by U2’s the Edge), Lionel Richie (inducted by Lenny Kravitz), Carly Simon (inducted by Sara Bareilles), Judas Priest (inducted by Alice Cooper), Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (inducted by Sheryl Crow) and Duran Duran (inducted by Robert Downey Jr.), as well as producer/ executive Jimmy Iovine (inducted by Bruce Springsteen), hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (inducted by Janet Jackson) and attorney Allen Grubman (inducted by John Mellencamp), the 2022 Rock Hall ceremony had plenty of those moments. A blow-by-blow recap would be excruciating — and you can watch the whole thing on HBO later this month anyway — so here are our 10 favorite moments, in no particular order.
Although he last toured just four years ago, Eminem concerts have been a fairly rare thing over the past decade — and his electrifying performance on the Rock Hall stage just makes you shake your head and wonder why someone who can light up a stage like that doesn’t do it more often. After an induction speech from none other than Dr. Dre — who continued the evening’s frequent theme of tolerance and peace by pointing out how this pioneering white rapper “forced us to confront our own biases” — Eminem took the stage at around the evening’s four-and-a-half-hour mark. He immediately brought the weary crowd to its feet with a blistering medley of “My Name Is,” “Rap God” — with its almost impossibly fast verses — “Sing for the Moment” — featuring a guest spot from a fresh-from-rehab Steven Tyler — “Stan” — with Ed Sheeran singing the segment originally sung by Dido and later by Elton John — “Forever” and “Not Afraid.” He also capped his gracious and grateful acceptance speech by speaking in typically frank terms of his own recovery from substance abuse, and then reading off an alphabetical list of approximately 50 of the rappers who influenced him, from 2 Live Crew to X-Clan.
Duran Duran’s Bittersweet Moment
The Durannies were out in force on this night — people wearing their T-shirts outnumbered any others we saw by a 10:1 ratio — and the group, which opened the show, was greeted by middle-aged people shrieking like it was 1984. And while their set got off to a bumpy start that will definitely not be televised — only the vocals were audible for the 30 seconds or so before they stopped and restarted, with Simon Le Bon joking “It’s just to prove to you that we weren’t lip-synching!,” the group powered through a medley of “Girls on Film,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Ordinary World.” Yet the moment became sad during their acceptance speech, when Le Bon read a message from guitarist Andy Taylor announcing that he was not present because he has been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. While the group kept things upbeat during the speech, later in the press room Le Bon said emotionally, “It is devastating news to find out that a colleague… not a colleague — a friend, one of our family — is not gonna be around for very long. It is absolutely devastating. We love Andy dearly. I’m not gonna stand here and cry or anything, that would be inappropriate, but that’s what I feel like.”
John Mellencamp Says “Fuck Antisemitism and All Forms of Bigotry”
The induction of super-lawyer Allen Grubman may have seemed like a bathroom break for many in the crowd, but it’s safe to say the ever-unpredictable John Mellencamp kept most people in their seats when he inducted his longtime attorney. After pacing anxiously around the podium a couple of times, he gave a warm speech praising Grubman before veering into a different subject: “Now Allen is Jewish,” he said, raising eyebrows before launching into a tirade against antisemitism that was clearly, although he didn’t say it, directed at the hatred Kanye West has launched in recent weeks. “Guys, I cannot tell you how fucking important it is to speak out if you’re an artist. Whenever you hear hate speech or something derogatory about someone else … We’re all human things. I don’t give a fuck if you’re Jewish, Black, quiet, tutti frutti Tuttie fruttie, I don’t care! Here’s the trick: silence is complicity. … I’m standing here tonight loudly and proudly and in solidarity with Allen, his family, all of my Jewish friends and the entire Jewish people of the world. Fuck Antisemitism and fuck anybody who says anything in that manner.”
Olivia Rodrigo and Sara Bareilles Cover and Cover for Carly Simon
Carly Simon has always been a stage-shy performer, and the recent deaths of two of her sisters in a single week certainly made it understandable why she would not want to take the stage in a room as heavy as the Rock Hall. But in her stead, Sara Bareilles soared through “Nobody Does It Better” and Olivia Rodrigo delivered a solid, strutting take on “You’re So Vain.”
There is little question that Eurythmics were one of the greatest rock acts of the ‘80s and Annie Lennox is one of the greatest singers in pop history. But the Edge’s induction speech and the pair’s acceptance emphasized what a long, hard road it was to get there, and how they were on the brink of failure when the song that lofted them to superstardom, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” was written; Dave Stewart said, “We would not let anyone interfere with our creativity,” as Lennox jokingly flexed her muscles. And even though they haven’t toured for 20 years, the duo delivered a rousing, powerful performance of “Would I Lie to You,” “Missionary Man” and of course “Sweet Dreams,” sounding just as powerful and resounding as they did 35 years ago.
Janet Jackson Channels “Control” to Induct Jam & Lewis
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are among the most successful hitmakers of all time, and their career truly vaulted into the stratosphere with Janet Jackson’s 1986 album “Control.” For their induction speech, she revived the hairstyle featured on the album’s cover, with a towering pile that reached at least a foot and a half from the top of her head. She recalled the fun they had making the album, said how revolutionary it was for her to work with producers who actually tried to channel her feelings in song, and after listing the many dozens of great artists the duo had worked with — from Mary J. Blige and George Michael to the Human League and her brother, Michael Jackson — she said, “Needless to say, I’m not the only artist Jimmy and Terry have worked with — I’m just their favorite.”
We Find Out Why Judas Priest’s Rob Halford Let the Other Bandmembers Speak First
It is really no surprise that after decades in close quarters, band members often don’t get along, and how that dynamic plays out is an annual drama at the Rock Hall. Usually they bury the hatchet for the evening, and Judas Priest welcomed back estranged members K.K. Downing and Les Binks, and expanded to a two-drummer/ three-guitarist lineup for the occasion. Singer Rob Halford, the band’s most prominent member, kept gesturing for the other band members to speak before him during the acceptance speeches, and after they had all thanked the fans and spoken of their dedication to rock and roll, Halford stepped up to the mic and said, “I’m the gay guy in the band,” drawing a huge round of applause for his status as the first major metal musician to come out. Yet he spoke next of the acceptance he found afterward: “No matter what your sexual identity is, what you look like, or what you believe in, the community is all-inclusive,” he said, “and we’re all about the love of heavy metal.”
Dave Grohl Proves That as a Lead Guitarist, He’s a Great Drummer
This year’s Rock Hall class featured some unorthodox inductees — Dolly Parton initially declined the invitation, and Lionel Richie is definitely not the first person to come to mind when one thinks of rock and roll. But the organizers burnished their decision by having Lenny Kravitz — who wore what seemed to be a sheer golden dress — induct him, and by having Dave Grohl join him onstage as the lead guitarist on “Easy.” While Richie’s ecstatic performance and induction were filled with as much feel-good energy as many of his songs — “Rock and roll is not a color,” he said, “it is a feeling. It’s a vibe. And if we let that vibe come through, this room will grow” — let’s just say that Grohl is one of the greatest drummers in rock history, a strong rock songwriter and singer and a decent rhythm guitarist, but that solo… yeesh.
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo Make Adorable Grandparents — and Don’t Sound a Day Over 30
One day in 1979, guitarist Neil Geraldo got a phone call saying a female singer was looking for a collaborator. He and that singer — Pat Benatar — got a lot more than that, with one of the most successful rock careers of the ‘80s, a marriage that has lasted four decades, two children and three grandchildren. She is also one of the most underrated singers in rock history and he is a blazing guitarist, and even in their late 60s the pair remain at the top of their respective games as performers, tearing through a medley of “All Fired Up,” “Love Is a Battlefield” and “the song that started it all,” “Heartbreaker,” for which they brought back original drummer Myron Grombacher. They’re also completely adorable: During their acceptance speech, she put her arm around him and said, “My love, 43 years ago in a rehearsal studio in New York, could you ever have imagined this night?”
Dolly Parton Enthusiastically Embraces Her Rock and Roll-ness
With no apologies to the screaming fan bases of either Duran Duran or Judas Priest, the show was inevitably built to lead up to Dolly, whose initial declining of her nomination got the Rock Hall ceremony more publicity than it’s had in years. She got an all-star fete toward the end — making a post-speech costume change while Brandi Carlile and Pink sang “Coat of Many Colors,” then returning in skin-tight black with an electric guitar to sing a brand new song about how she is a rock ‘n’ roller after all (despite initial protestations), then being joined by a significant ensemble — including Rob Halford, Simon LeBon and Sheryl Crow — for a group-sing of “Jolene.”
After that, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp joined forces for a duet of the late Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” but it felt like an afterthought when it’s really Dolly’s world and we’re just living in it.
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