The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony returned to the West Coast for the first time in 20 years.
And, boy, was it ever a good time.
Hip-hop heroes Public Enemy, disco queen Donna Summer, prog-rock champions Rush, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, classic rockers Heart, blues giant Albert King, the multitalented Quincy Jones and producer extraordinaire Lou Adler were inducted on Thursday night at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
Here are the 11 best moments of the show:
1. "I Love L.A." -- The show kicked off in highly appropriate fashion, with John Fogerty, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty joining Randy Newman for an triumphant version of his anthem "I Love L.A." And, yes, we loved it.
2. Traffic -- No, not the band. I'm talking about actual vehicle traffic, which is one of L.A.'s true calling cards. It was an absolute zoo getting to the venue. That sure wasn't one of the highlights. Yet, it sure was funny to hear that even celebrities have to deal with traffic. "It took me a 1 ½ hours to get here," Don Henley said while inducting Newman into the Hall. "Never go Olympic (Boulevard)."
3. Royal talent -- Carole King performed a tender version of "So Far Away" in honor of Adler, who produced the singer-songwriter's monumental "Tapestry."
4. Fret work -- John Mayer and Gary Clark, Jr. took the stage in tribute to the late Albert King and traded licks on "Born Under a Bad Sign." Mayer would also deliver King's induction speech and did a great job describing the guitarist's legendary sound. "It's kind of like a surfer riding the top of a wave," he said of how King would bend a particular note. "It just kind of stops time."
5. Summer Time -- Jennifer Hudson delivered powerful versions of "Last Dance" and "Bad Girls." She was mighty good, but still not quite in the league of the original model — Donna Summer. It reminded me just how fortunate I am to have seen the "Queen of Disco" in concert.
6. The Oprah show -- The celebrity factor rocketed through the roof when none other than Oprah Winfrey showed up and gave a heartfelt induction speech for Quincy Jones. "You are a marvel," she said to Jones. "And everybody knows it."
7. Public Enemy -- The best hip-hop band of all time put on a fantastic set. Chuck D, one of the greatest MCs to ever hold a microphone, led the band through such tunes as "Bring the Noise" and "Fight the Power." The set was so good that it nearly erased our memory of Flava Flav's lengthy, meandering acceptance speech, which drew some boos from the crowd.
8. Rush fans -- Yes, they were the ones booing Flava, going so far as to chant "Rush! Rush! Rush!" during an acceptance speech that seemed like it might never end. (To be fair, they certainly weren't the only ones in the house who wished Flav would stop talking.) In general, however, the Rush fans were a hoot. They were the most vocal and passionate contingent at the ceremony, relishing the fact that their favorite band had (finally) gained admittance to the Hall.
9. Seattle's best -- Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, Alice In Chains' Jerry Cantrell and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell joined Heart for an all-star, all-Seattle, take on "Barracuda."
10. The funniest man in rock -- Dave Grohl gave a hilarious induction speech for Rush, which referenced numerous inexplicable events in rock 'n' roll history. "There's one that eclipses them all," he said. "When the (expletive) did Rush become cool?"
11. All-star jam -- Ever think you'd see Neal Peart back Chuck D onstage? How about Grohl and Fogerty share vocal duties while Tom Morello and Alex Lifeson traded licks? Those things happened, and so much more, during the all-star jam that closed the show.
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