“So, climate change is real, not fake news,” exclaimed the lead singer.
Vedder also thanked his daughter’s favorite artist, Chance the Rapper, for the charity work he’s done in Chicago, the hometown of his favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.
Pearl Jam was introduced by ex-late-night host David Letterman, who said he was as “pissed” as twenty-something fans who loved the Seattle group when they exploded onto the music scene in the ’90s, though he described Pearl Jam as more than just a rock n’ roll band from Seattle. “They’d recognize injustice and stand up to it,” he said. “Whether it was human rights or the environment [or] poverty.”
The former “Late Show” host couldn’t resist a few jabs as well. Mocking the band for their frequent change in percussionists, he said, “The entire balcony is filled with Pearl Jam drummers.”
Vedder, along with Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Dave Krusen, Matt Cameron, and Mike McCready, all delivered heartfelt speeches and thanked their fans and former members before putting on a thrilling performance of “Alive, Given To Fly,” and “Better Man.”
Earlier in the night, Snoop Dogg appeared on stage to induct late hip-hop artist, poet, and actor Tupac Shakur, calling the “California Love” emcee “the greatest rapper of all time, but first and foremost the homeboy.” Snoop later shared personal stories of the pair smoking weed and parasailing together earlier in his career.
“I finally got a chance to meet Pac in 1993 at a rap party in L.A.,” he remembered. “On that night Pac passed me my first blunt. No, for real! That’s right Tupac is the one that got Snoop Dogg smoking blunts.”
Also paying tribute to the rapper was Alicia Keys, who led a piano medley of “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” and “Changes,” as well as Treach (from Naughty by Nature), YG and T.I., who closed with a rendition of “Keep Ya Head Up.”
Journey’s Steve Perry briefly reunited on stage with his former bandmates for the first time publicly in 12 years to accept their induction into the Hall of Fame. Though Perry did not perform with songs “Lights,” “Separate Ways,” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” with current band members Neal Schon, Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Steve Smith, Ross Valory, and Jonathan Cain, the entire group shared nothing but smiles and hugs onstage.
Perry thanked all bandmates, including current vocalist Arnel Pineda and then the fans. “I’ve been gone a long time, but I want you to know you’ve never not been in my heart,” he said, which was met with deafening applause.
Electric Light Orchestra, YES, and Joan Baez were also inductees Friday. While ELO and YES performed some of their more popular hits, like “Evil Woman” and “Roundabout,” respectively, Baez opened her set with “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” taking a not-so-subtle jab at Donald Trump. “Coming to carry me, carry you, carry us – even Donald – home,” she sang. “Amen.”
Nile Rodgers received the Award for Musical Excellence from fan and fellow recording artist Pharrell Williams, who bowed to the honoree on stage. Upon receiving the honor, Rodgers noted his musical achievements, including his net worth of over $3 billion and that his extensive catalogue features many Hall of Fame inductees as collaborators.
Chuck Berry, who died at the ago of 90 in March, was provided an in memoriam tribute by ELO, who played “Roll Over Beethoven.” Lenny Kravitz also payed homage to Prince among electric guitarists and a gospel-choir singing “Doves Cry” and “The Cross.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.