Living in Cleveland has its perks. One of them was being able to last night watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony’s live satellite feed in the comfort of the museum’s Foster Theatre. The environment was fun and lively and the broadcast’s picture and audio were great. It was the next best thing to being in Brooklyn at a front-row table on the floor of the Barclay’s Center.
As one would expect, there were a number of stand out musical performances. The best was the five-song tribute to Linda Ronstadt featuring Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris and Glenn Frey. Everyone sang and harmonized beautifully. The Nirvana reunion that featured the surviving members along with Joan Jett, Lorde, Kim Gordon and St. Vincent was especially moving. It was the first time Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear played Nirvana songs publicly since Cobain’s death. The historical significance added a cathartic power to the four-song performance.
On a night that highlights musical accomplishments and special collaboration, one aspect that is easy to overlook is the quality of the speeches. There were all types of speeches given last night. Some were funny, some clever, some heartfelt and some, unfortunately, that seemed to never end. Below is my list of the best speeches from last night’s ceremony. I have attached links to the few speeches I could find online, but I am uncertain how long each clip will remain posted before HBO forces them to come down, so that it will not take away from the network's May 31 broadcast of the ceremony.
5.) KISS’s acceptance speech: For a short breath of time, the original members of KISS stopped behaving like angry toddlers and civilly accepted their awards together. They paid compliments to their current and/or former bandmates. Gene Simmons was unusually soft-spoken and kept his ego in check. Ace Frehley was funny with his speech and talked about overcoming his drug and alcohol addictions. Peter Criss briefly alluded to the KISS makeup squabble at the end of his speech when he defiantly stated that, in or out of makeup, he would always be the Catman. Paul Stanley was polite, but took the Roll Hall committee to task about their criteria/lack of criteria for whom they induct. No slapping fights, no name calling, it was surprisingly warm and . . . respectable. Watch the speech by clicking here.
4.) Chris Martin’s induction of Peter Gabriel: The speech was heartfelt and described Gabriel’s influence on Martin growing up. Martin started his tribute describing Gabriel’s as though he were reading scripture from the Old Testament. The pieces were perfect considering Gabriel’s last name and the fact that his first fame came through the band Genesis. It was very humorous and received a good crowd reaction.
3.) Yusuf Islam’s (Cat Stevens) Acceptance Speech: It was easy to tell that Islam was very amused, as well as very pleased to be recognized for his accomplishments prior to his leaving the pop music world. He earned some laughs when he stated that he never thought he would share a stage with KISS. At the end of his speech, Islam also addressed the people who may doubt his qualifications for inclusion into the Rock Hall. He said that inducting a man who does not throw TVs out of hotel windows, does not drink or do drugs and only sleeps with his wife is a very rock and roll and thing to do.
2.) Tom Morello’s KISS induction speech: Tom Morello’s speech chronicled the plight of growing up as a KISS fan and having to overcome the snobbery of the rock establishment as well as school bullies. He was great about recognizing the contributions of all of the band members both past and present. Morello was articulate, passionate, but also very funny. Morello stated that a band’s induction should be weighed by their accomplishments, influence and awesomeness. He made a case showing that KISS met the criteria of all three in spades. The members of KISS should at least be able to agree that they could not have asked for a better tribute than what they received from Morello. Whether you like the band or not, find a clip of the speech. It's great.
1.) Michael Stipe’s Nirvana induction speech: Stipe’s induction of Nirvana explained why they were more than just musicians: they were artists. Their work influenced mediums far beyond music and brought a voice to a cross-generational demographic of disillusioned souls searching for a truth and a connection in the post-Reagan-Bush-senior era. Stipe’s words were eloquent and moving, especially as he described the power of Cobain’s vocals and how much he is missed by the world.
Text © 2014 DM Experience This Music LLC