The legend of the late Chuck Berry permeated this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions at Barclays Center Friday night.
A tribute to Berry, the first musician ever inducted into the Rock Hall, opened the event, followed by new inductee Electric Light Orchestra’s version of “Roll Over Beethoven.” Dhani Harrison, in his heartfelt induction of ELO, spoke of how the first song he ever saw his father, George Harrison, play on stage was “Johnny B. Goode” with ELO, adding that he was convinced they were space aliens. “They reminded me of the ‘Star Wars’ cantina band only with lots more hair,” Harrison recalled.
The induction of ELO, Yes and, especially Journey, were greeted with huge ovations, showing that the decision Rock Hall voters have made to embrace ’70s superstars, who have long been eligible but passed over, has been overwhelmingly popular. “I thought it would never happen,” Journey guitarist Neal Schon said in his acceptance speech.
The induction of folk legend Joan Baez, which inductor Jackson Browne called “long, long overdue,” actually seemed well timed, as protest music grows in popularity.
Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur were also set to be inducted in their first year of eligibility, 25 years after the release of their debut albums in 1991. Snoop Dogg offered a sweet, heartwarming induction for his friend, revealing that the late rapper was the one who introduced him to marijuana and that they once went parasailing together with hip-hop mogul Suge Knight driving the boat. Alicia Keys paid tribute to him with a medley of his hits on the piano, followed by Snoop Dogg and T.I. rapping.
Musical Excellence inductee Nile Rodgers, best known for his work with funk and disco pioneers Chic and collaborations with David Bowie and Madonna, rounded out the 2017 class.
Keyboardist/singer Gregg Rolie, who was inducted with Journey, became only the 22nd musician to be so honored by the Rock Hall twice, joining all the Beatles, Neil Young and Lou Reed. Rolie was already inducted as part of Santana in 1998.
HBO will air an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. April 29.