LOS ANGELES -- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame returned to its wild, unpredictable roots with an unforgettable induction ceremony at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live that stretched deep into Friday morning.
Public Enemy's Flavor Flav offered a long and winding stream-of-consciousness acceptance speech, all under the watchful eye of Chuck D. who even tapped on Flav's trademark clock around his neck to try to get him to wrap it up. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson delivered his entire speech by repeating the word "blah" for several minutes while miming his thought process. And Oprah Winfrey, there to induct her friend Quincy Jones, threw her hands in the air and waved 'em like she just don't care during Public Enemy's set.
The 26th annual ceremony officially inducted Public Enemy, progressive rockers Rush, blues guitar wizard Albert King, disco queen Donna Summer, hard rockers Heart, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, producer Quincy Jones and manager Lou Adler into the Hall of Fame.
However, the night, which will be broadcast May 18 on HBO, was far more raucous than that -- from Don Henley calling Newman's induction "shamefully overdue" to Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins egging on the crowd, overwhelmingly filled with fans of Rush, by yelling the names of the band's albums in chronological order with growing intensity.
While Public Enemy received the rare honour of being inducted into the Rock Hall in its first year of eligibility, the hall, which Henley called "this peculiar, perplexing organization," had Rush wait 14 years and Newman more than two decades.
Rush drummer Neil Peart drew a huge ovation for his acceptance speech. "We've been saying for a long time this isn't a big deal," he said. "Turns out, it kind of is."
Usher provided a standout tribute to Quincy Jones by recreating Michael Jackson's Rock With You video. Jennifer Hudson delivered potent versions of Donna Summer's Bad Girls and Last Dance, which she sang, at times, to Flavor Flav. To cap the evening of surprises, members of Public Enemy, Rush and Heart joined John Fogerty, Dave Grohl, Gary Clark Jr., Tom Morello and DMC for a thunderous version of Robert Johnson's Crossroads.