Rock Hall recap: The ceremony's 8 big moments

NEW YORK — Rock 'n' roll doesn't throw many parties like the yearly Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

The genre's royalty gathered Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to welcome the 2017 Rock Hall class, an esteemed group consisting of Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes, Journey and Nile Rodgers.

From all-star tributes to Chuck Berry, Prince and Tupac, to the night's most emotional speeches, here are the eight moments to watch for when the Rock Hall induction ceremony premieres on HBO on April 29 (8 ET/PT).

A tribute to Chuck Berry

The festivities kicked off with an all-star tribute to Chuck Berry, recognized as the first musician the Rock Hall ever inducted.

Following a video presentation remembering Berry's life, ELO’s Jeff Lynne took the stage minutes before his own band was inducted into the Rock Hall, honoring Berry with his own take on Roll Over Beethoven.

Joan Baez gets political

When Joan Baez’s folk-music peer Jackson Browne took the stage to induct the legendary protest singer into the Rock Hall, he acknowledged that the recognition was “long, long overdue.”

In a touching speech, where he admitted Baez’s was the first album he ever bought as a young music fan, Browne spoke about how her music’s dedication to social justice is still relevant in today’s political climate. “When I hear (her recordings) now, I feel a deep sadness that the songs are as needed now as then, now more than ever,” he said. “The changes that began happening in the ‘60s are still happening ... we need to be as empowered now as we were then.”

Baez’s speech touched on the same political themes as Browne’s, as she spoke about her history of representing disempowered parties in both her music and her activism.

She also dedicated her speech to her granddaughter, who she said “had no idea who I was until I took her backstage at a Taylor Swift concert,” only to have the younger pop star greet her warmly. “I want my granddaughter to know I fought against an evil tide and had the masses on my side,” Baez said.

An all-star hip-hop tribute to Tupac Shakur

In a candid and touching remembrance for his former labelmate and close friend, Snoop Dogg tackled the duties of inducting Tupac Shakur into the Rock Hall, recalling the pair’s rise through ‘90s hip hop together in a six-minute speech.

Snoop remembered how Pac gave him his first blunt, accompanied him on an unexpected parasailing trip with rap mogul Suge Knight, and outfitted him in a matching designer suit. Calling Shakur the “greatest rapper alive,” Snoop recalled visiting the rapper’s mother after his death, comforted by her strength.

Following his emotional speech was a stacked tribute performance. Led by Alicia Keys on piano, Snoop returned to the stage, accompanied by fellow rappers YG and T.I. to deliver a mashup of Pac’s greatest hits.

Steve Perry rejoins Journey for one night only

In honor of Journey's Rock Hall induction, former frontman Steve Perry reunited with the band for the first time in 12 years. While he didn't perform with Journey, he joined his former bandmates onstage for a heartfelt speech thanking his fans and family.

"You put us here, we would not be here had it not been for you," Perry said, thanking his fans. "Your tireless love and consistent devotion, you never have stopped. But from my heart I must tell you — I've been gone a long time, but you've always been in my heart."

Nile Rodgers takes a victory lap

While Nile Rodgers wasn't the most famous face to take the Barclays stage Friday, the legendary producer likely has the longest résumé, producing hits for icons including Madonna, David Bowie and Diana Ross.

After an introduction from Pharrell Williams, who collaborated with Rodgers on Daft Punk's 2013 hit Get Lucky, Rodgers dedicated his speech to praising the many names he's worked with over his career. As he bragged, he’s worked with a large chunk of the people in the Rock Hall already.

"When people work with me they think I'm the boss but for every record, I join their band," he said. "I want to make every artist know I have their interest at heart. My name doesn't mean (expletive).

"This award is really because of all the people who allowed me to come into their lives and join their band, be it Madonna, Mick Jagger, Bowie, Pharrell, Diana Ross ... it just goes on and on and on," he added.

Lenny Kravitz’s short-and-sweet Prince tribute

While many awards shows have featured Prince tributes since the singer's death one year ago this month, not every performance did justice to the pop icon. Lenny Kravitz attempted to avoid the self-indulgent pitfalls of past Prince remembrances by limiting his Rock Hall tribute to two tracks, When Doves Cry and The Cross.

Instead of attempting to imitate the Purple One in his singing, dancing and guitar skills, Kravitz wisely found strength in numbers during his performance, inviting a powerful choir onstage to bolster his vocals.

Dave Letterman emerges as Pearl Jam's biggest fan

Neil Young's loss was the ceremony's gain. After the rocker dropped out of the ceremony due to illness, former Late Show host David Letterman filled his spot to deliver the night's most freewheeling speech, where he shared his many memories with Pearl Jam, the beloved Seattle rockers he was inducting into the Rock Hall.

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder shared his own poignant memories of Letterman's hosting days. "He doesn't know, but I used to work the midnight shift .. and there was a small TV and Dave was my co-pilot," he said. "To have him up here, it's an honor."

Before his band closed out the night, Vedder also seized the opportunity to make a political statement of his own. "Climate change is real, it's not fake news," he said. "If the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series, humans can solve climate change," although "we don't have 108 years to wait."

© 2017 USA TODAY


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