It was the stuff of rock and roll dreams, with a dash, in honor of shock rocker Alice Cooper's inclusion, of surreal nightmare.
Around 1:30 a.m., about five hours into this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, inductee Leon Russell kicked off the classic “Da Doo Ron Ron” with the same piano riff he used in the original. Inductee Neil Diamond – who had just led the crowd through not one, but two rounds of a “Sweet Caroline” sing-along – handled a few lines of lead vocals. Inductee Alice Cooper, who had scrubbed the extra mascara from his eyes and put the pet boa constrictor he brought onstage earlier to bed, handled a few more. Then, inductee Darlene Love, who sung backup on the original, and her pal and inductor Bette Midler, traded off on lines into the chorus. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Elton John, who had inducted Russell earlier, played piano, before coming in on the second verse, as did inductee Dr. John.
The only performing inductee from this year who did not take part in the “Da Doo Ron Ron” spectacle was Tom Waits, though his stunning set shortly before the finale had left enough of an impression on its own. Waits, with his distinctive grumble and growl of a voice, delivered one of the best sets in Rock Hall history, with his passionate, emotional versions of “Make It Rain,” “Rain Dogs” and “House Where Nobody Lives” and “Get Behind the Mule.” (Dear Fuse editors, please air this set in its entirety on your broadcast of the event Sunday night. Please.) Darlene Love's set, which featured Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen on guitar, was nearly as memorable, with her still-crystal-clear voice driving “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry” and a potent “He's a Rebel,” with Midler, and punctuating her long-deserved induction.
The wild finale and the late wrap-up was a throwback to the early days of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, when the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom would be rocking well into the next day with all-star jams.
Diamond, who flew in for the ceremony from his current tour in Australia and flew back to the continent immediately after the show, played up the unpredictable feel, both in his off-the-cuff, sometimes-NSFW acceptance speech, and his ramble through the audience during “Sweet Caroline,” where he got Catherine Zeta-Jones to add the “bomp-BOMP-bomp”s to the famous chorus and Springsteen to sing a bit.
“Keep practicing,” he jokingly told Springsteen. “You're gonna get somewhere.”
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