When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first artists nearly 30 years ago, people didn’t know what to make of it. Today, it has become a respected institution, with its annual induction ceremony known for irreverent speeches and all-star jams. This year’s takes place at Barclays Center and is open to the public. It will honor Nirvana, KISS, Cat Stevens, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and the E Street Band. To prepare, we look back at highlights from years past.
Keith Richards delivers the Hall’s very first induction speech, enshrining Chuck Berry. Richards quipped: “It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry ’cause I lifted every lick he ever played.”
Beach Boys singer Mike Love gives the most notorious speech in Hall of Fame history, criticizing Paul McCartney and Diana Ross for skipping the ceremony and saying Mick Jagger has “always been chicken [expletive] to get on stage with the Beach Boys.” Later, during his own speech, Bob Dylan says: “I’d like to thank Mike Love for not mentioning me.”
The three living members of Led Zeppelin come together for a rare reunion set, performing with Aerosmith, then bringing in Neil Young for a blistering take on “When the Levee Breaks.” Still, the tension wasn’t completely gone. After watching Jimmy Page and Robert Plant record together a year earlier, bassist John Paul Jones says, “Thank you, my friends, for finally remembering my phone number,” during the band’s speech.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five become the first hip-hop artists in the Hall. Jay Z inducts them, saying: “Thirty years later, rappers have become rock stars, movie stars, leaders, educators, philanthropists, even CEOs. None of this would have been possible without the work of these men.”
Beastie Boys Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond accept their induction, as Adam “MCA” Yauch watches from home while fighting cancer. Yauch died less than a month later, one day before the ceremony aired on HBO.