The 33rd annual induction ceremony of the Rock and Hall of fame in Cleveland, Ohio took place on April 14 at The Public Auditorium in that city. The HBO Special that debuted on May 05 spotlights some of the most memorable names in music through special reunions, touching tributes and heartfelt speeches from both presenters and inductees. The packaged special played out slightly different from the actual event, but make a solid event for the TV audience. You can still catch that event on HBO’s channels and streaming sites. Here is the rocking lowdown of the Induction Ceremony. First is a reminder of the inductees and their presenters:

The Cars inducted by Brandon Flowers of The Killers
Sister Rosetta Tharpe inducted by Brittany Howard
Dire Straits inducted by Dire Straits
Nina Simone inducted by Mary J. Blige
Moody Blues inducted by Ann Wilson
Bon Jovi inducted by Howard Stern

The evening kicked off with an opening tribute, the first of two in the event. Brandon Flowers and his group, Las Vegas-based The Killers, started us off with a tribute to Tom Petty (previously

Ric Ocasek of The Cars

inducted) with a rendition of “American Girl.” That was accompanied by a photo montage of the late artist. Brandon didn’t wander off after that opening shout-out as he went next into the segment of inducting The Cars. Actually, The Cars did not go first on the bill at the live event, Bon Jovi did, but HBO edited the event as to have Bon Jovi close the telecast. You knew something was out of order when Flowers appears a second later in a change of outfit from the Petty tribute. The Cars had a musical influence on Flowers as you could tell from his speech about the hard-to-define band with Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes David Robinson & the late Benjamin Orr. Weezer’s Scott Shiner stepped in for Orr.  The New Wave band performed “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “You Might Think.”

Brittany Howard honors Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Brittany Howard, from the Blues-Rock band Alabama Shakes was next. She offered us a good bio and musical sampling from inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was noted as an Early Influence in Rock and her energy and sound were easily and powerfully conveyed by Howard who was accompanied by Paul Shaffer, Felicia Collins and Questlove in “That’s All.” If you are a rock music fan who should know of Sister Rosetta and her rousing tunes that indeed influenced many. This induction schools us all about her place in Rock History.

Next up was truly an odd situation, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its ceremony always offer up some kind of controversy & criticism every year. 2018 was no different when Dire Straits (Alan Clark, Guy Fletcher, John Illsley, David Knopfler, Mark Knopfler & Pick Withers) was inducted. You got a band onstage that has to

Dire Straits in dire straits

induct itself because the R&R Hall didn’t bother to line up an appreciative personality to do the job, plus half of the key performers were no-shows. The Knopfler brothers & Withers did not attend due to some flap or other that I didn’t bother to look up. Thus, the troupe, minus its drummer lead guitars and lead vocal, had a short and odd induction. After the montage played bassist John Illsley and keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher came to the microphone for short ‘thank you’ moments and that was it. No performance by those present or a tribute band occurred. We were robbed of a live take of the “Money For Nothing” opening guitar riff.

Andra Day Performing Nina Simone

The show picked up with the next inductee. Mary J. Blige came on to induct Nina Simone and man, there was nothing like her. Simone was certainly on everyone’s mind back in her day because, as the montage proved, she talked with passion & authority and sang that way too. She also wouldn’t and couldn’t, by her mere nature, back down to anyone. A powerful woman on and off stage. And just when her montage clip knocked you out, her tribute segment rocked you also. Songstress Andra Day embodied Nina Simone during her renditions of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and “I Put a Spell on You” with Questlove, The Roots and Paul Shaffer. If that wasn’t enough surprise quest Ms. Lauryn Hill performed “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” “I Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” and “Feeling Good.” Her brother Sam accepted the award on behalf of his late sister. And we were all under her spell & feeling good for honoring Nina Simone.


Steven Van Zandt seems always to be present at this gig. This time around he presents the inductees into a new category called R&R Hall of Fame Singles. These are individual songs that were big influences, though their performers have not yet been inducted. The awarded are “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats from 1951; “Rumble” by Link Wray and his Wray Men from 1958; ”The Twist” by Chubby Checker in 1960; “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen in 1963; “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum in 1967 and “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf in 1968. This was a fun segment and I sang along to every single one.

Heart’s Ann Wilson was heartfelt has she inducted the next honorees – The Moody Blues. For me, this segment was the one I was waiting for just because of the songs. I mean you hear Bon Jovi often enough but not The Moody Blues. After the performance of “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock And Roll Band),” “Nights in White Satin” and “Ride My See-Saw” I went and added them to my playlist. They don’t make songs like that anymore. Sadly their flutist (that’s flute player) Ray Thomas is deceased but the musician present would suffice. And how often do you hear a mellotron (electro-mechanical synthesizer? The highlight of the night for me. Thus, this clip:

The In Memoriam segment followed and though I won’t name them all we were reminded of those who have died like Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Greg Allman and Steely Dan’s Walter Becker the segment ended with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Ann Wilson and Jerry Cantrell then performed “Black Hole Sun.” They pulled it off quite effectively.

Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi

The first to actually be inducted but the last to appear on the packaged HBO program was the assembled rock troupe known as Bon Jovi. They are Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Alec John Such, Tico Torres and later members Dave Sabo and Hugh McDonald. The worse part of their induction was Howard Stern. He was just being himself, you know, the ‘shock-jock’, Not everyone’s taste and apparently not to HBO’s liking. His actual intro was thirteen minutes long, but HBO trimmed it down from that. Sounds like that was a good thing. Another good thing was the rockin’ sound of Bon Jovi as they performed “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “When We Were Us” and “Living on a Prayer.” They can’t get to the high notes as easily or at all in places but they still command the stage.

The show quickly wraps up after they conclude their set and all in all the show was a winner. It was a disappointment to miss a Dire Straits performance but it was great to be exposed to the sounds of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, revel in that Nina Simone attitude, relive the music of The Cars & The Moody Blues and end it all in an arena rock Bon Jovi blast. LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL!

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