The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Gala was a throwback to the event’s heyday, a five-hour marathon packed with surprises that wrapped up with a rare all-star jam at the Barclays Center early Saturday morning.
With inductees Def Leppard serving as the house band, members of fellow 2019 inductees The Zombies, Hall of Famers Brian May from Queen and Steven Van Zandt from the E Street Band, as well as Susanna Hoffs, teamed up with Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter to deliver a rousing version of “All the Young Dudes.” It balanced Stevie Nicks’ masterful set, which opened the show with surprise appearances from Don Henley on “Leather and Lace” and Harry Styles, who inducted her, on her breakthrough hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Of course, Nicks showed how she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – as part of Fleetwood Mac in 1998 and this year for her solo work – with a stunning, eight-minute version of “Edge of Seventeen” featuring searing solos from guitarist Mike Campbell.
In her poignant acceptance speech, Nicks thanked those who helped her become the first two-time female inductee, but also said she is determined that she won’t be the last. “The times are different,” she told female artists. “I’m going to give you all the directions and I’m going to do enough interviews to tell you what to do.”
Janet Jackson, who was also honored, along with five British bands — The Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead, Roxy Music and The Zombies — had female representation on her mind as well, saying, “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 2020, please induct more women.”
Janelle Monáe, who inducted Jackson, focused on her influence as a role model. “It was so refreshing to see someone who looked like me and millions of little black girls around the world,” Monáe said. “She was a different kind of star.”
Jackson revealed that when she was growing up, she didn’t want to be a performer. She wanted to be a lawyer. The idea to become a singer came from her father and from seeing the success of her brothers, The Jackson 5.
“I witnessed along with the rest of the world, my brothers’ impact on culture,” Jackson said. “As the youngest in the family, I was determined to make it on my own. I wanted to stand on my own two feet. Never in a million years did I expect to follow in their footsteps. Tonight, your baby sister has made it.”
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Rock’s biggest night, which will air on HBO on April 27, also had several Long Island moments.
The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” which was co-written (with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry) and produced by the late George “Shadow” Morton, who was raised in Hicksville and lived in Dix Hills for many years, was one of six singles recognized by the Rock Hall this year. In his acceptance speech, The Zombies’ Rod Argent offered a shout-out to Hicksville’s The Lemon Twigs for carrying on the band’s legacy.
And Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and John Taylor, who inducted Roxy Music, even gave influential Long Island radio station WLIR a shout-out.
“I am always proud to say that without Roxy Music there would be no Duran Duran,” Taylor said. “Along the way, in the early Eighties, we were inadvertently able to introduce Roxy’s music to our young American audience when radio stations like WLIR started to play both bands back to back.”
Roxy Music reunited singer Bryan Ferry with the band’s original members Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera for the dramatic “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” and “Out of the Blue,” which showed exactly how they helped spawn the British new wave and the New Romantic movement, before closing out with a bit of WLIR favorites, “Love Is the Drug,” “More Than This,” and “Avalon.”
The Cure, another British new wave pioneer, delivered an eclectic set to celebrate its induction, from the ferocious “Shake Dog Shake” to the gorgeous “Lovesong.”
“This is such a surprise,” The Cure’s Robert Smith said following Trent Reznor’s induction speech. “It was such a lovely induction speech. It means a huge amount to hear this from someone who’s such a great artist in his own right.”