by Tom Withers
CLEVELAND (AP) — Joan Jett couldn’t keep her rough rocker edge for long.
Once she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jett was overcome by the moment and moved to tears.
“I tried not to cry and be tough,” she said, her black mascara starting to run.
Jett and other music legends were welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night, an evening made special with two of the Beatles set to come together and play.
Ringo Starr, previously enshrined with the Beatles in 1988, is being inducted along Jett and The Blackhearts, pop punks Green Day, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, underground-rock icon Lou Reed, bluesy guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The “5” Royales.
For the third time, the star-studded ceremony is being held at Cleveland’s legendary Public Hall, where thousands of fans were already on their feet when Jett, wearing black leather, opened the evening with a rip-roaring version of “Bad Reputation.”
She urged on the crowd by saying, “Here we go, Cleveland,” and was joined by Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl for “Cherry Bomb,” one of her hits with The Runaways, a band that broke down barriers for women in rock.
The set concluded with Jett, in top form since she’s opening for The Who on their current U.S. tour, performing “Crimson And Clover” along with Tommy James, who wrote the song.
Miley Cyrus then inducted Jett, considered by some the “Godmother of Punk.”
Jett’s songs empowered girls — and boys — and her sneering on-stage presence made her not only look cool but a role model for female rockers.
Cyrus said Jett inspired her like no other artist.
“She’s what Superwoman really should be,” Cyrus said. “The first to do many things, not just as a woman, but as a badass babe on the planet.”
Jett said music is what has always moved her.
“I come from a place where rock and roll means something,” she said. “It’s more than music, more than fashion, more than a pose. It’s a subculture of rebellion, frustration, alienation and the groove. … Rock and roll ethic is my entire life.”
Adored by fans, Starr was the steady beat behind the world’s most celebrated group and the 74-year-old is the last of the Beatles to have his work outside the band recognized. Starr is being inducted by Paul McCartney, whose influence helped get his former drummer enshrined. Starr put out a string of pop hits, including “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen.”
He may not have had the musical chops or artistry of McCartney or the late John Lennon or George Harrison, but Starr managed to stay in the limelight and still tours with his All-Star Band.
Brash and belligerent, Green Day blasted onto the music scene just as Seattle’s grunge sound was growing stale. Lead singer/guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool borrowed took riffs from punk pioneers like The Stooges and Sex Pistols, flavored them with some power chords and pop hooks and helped redefine a genre.
The trio’s album “Dookie” won a Grammy and Green Day went on to make “American Idiot,” a punk-infused rock opera that later became a Broadway hit.
Withers was inexplicably left off the hall’s ballot for years, perhaps an unfortunate oversight. But the 76-year-old, who walked away from the music industry in the 1980s, is now part of musical royalty with a catalog of timeless songs like “Lean On Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Stevie Wonder will induct the 76-year-old Withers, who may perform publicly for the first time in decades.
Reed was both daring and provocative as a songwriter and lyricist, pushing boundaries with ballads about forbidden subjects like drugs, prostitution and suicide. Reed’s songs like “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Vicious” and “Heroin” remain vibrant today. Although he died in 2011, Reed continues to influence a young generation of musicians touched by his rebel ways.
Sadly, Vaughan died at the height of his career. Armed with a signature Stratocaster, the Texas bluesman was a dynamo on six strings. Best known for songs like “Pride and Joy” and “Look At Little Sister,” he won a Grammy for his mesmerizing cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” John Mayer will induct Vaughan and join Gary Clark Jr. on stage for a blistering set of Double Trouble tunes.
HBO will broadcast the event on May 30.