CLEVELAND -- Joan Jett & The Blackhearts entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with an expected bang and an unexpected whimper.
"I was really going to try not to cry and be tough but that's overwhelming," Jett said as the crowd at the Cleveland Public Auditorium gave her a standing ovation.
Long Beach's Jett spent much of her acceptance speech declaring the importance of rock and roll. "Rock and roll is political," she said. "It is a meaningful way to express dissent, upset the status quo and stir up revolution and fight for human rights. . . Rock and roll is an idea and an ideal. Sometimes because we love the music and make the music that we forget the political impact that it has on people around the world. "
Jett & The Blackhearts also made their mark with a hard-hitting set that included Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl turning "Cherry Bomb" into a duet and Miley Cyrus and Tommy James joining her for "Crimson and Clover."
Cyrus inducted Jett, telling a string of stories about their times together, including a story of how Jett became what she believed was the only woman ever to put a prayer in the Wailing Wall on the male side – a tale that was supposed to be kept a secret to avoid what Cyrus said could have been an international incident.
The induction of Jett & The Blackhearts -- guitarist Ricky Byrd, bassist Gary Ryan and drummer Lee Crystal -- kicked off the 30th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Gala. The star-studded affair included a rare reunion of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who was inducted as a solo artist, and Patti Smith inducting Freeport native Lou Reed posthumously with an emotional speech.
Starr celebrated his induction by fronting Green Day for a version of the Shirelles' "Boys" and a true all-star sing-along of "With a Little Help From My Friends" that included McCartney, Green Day, Stevie Wonder and John Legend. That segued into a finale of "I Wanna Be Your Man," with a multi-guitar attack from Tom Morello, Joe Walsh, Billie Joe Armstrong and McCartney.
Green Day, Bill Withers, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, the Paul Butterfield Band, and the "5" Royales were also inducted. An edited version of the ceremony will air on HBO on May 30.
Laurie Anderson accepted the award for her husband Reed and led the crowd in many choruses of "Looooooo!" She explained how they believed that people didn't die finally until the last time their name was said. She hoped Reed's induction would keep his name on people's tongues.
Beck, with help from Nate Ruess, paid tribute to Reed with a lovely version of "Satellite of Love," while Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O and Nick Zinner delivered a rocking version of "Vicious.""Lou would have loved this," Anderson said. "He's here with his heroes, Otis [Redding] and Dion."
Jett said later in the press room that she was overwhelmed by the acceptance she felt from the crowd as she received her award.
“I was trying to not bawl,” she said, adding that her award felt that she had proven her naysayers wrong. “People just did not think that girls could play rock and roll.”
Jett’s longtime manager and collaborator Kenny Laguna, who convinced Jett to move to Long Beach nearly four decades ago, said she was always destined for induction into the Rock Hall.
“Joan is the purest person that you could ever meet,” Laguna said. “She walks it the way she talks it… Joan Jett is rock and roll.”