Dolly Parton embraces rock stardom, Eminem pays tribute to hip-hop at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has made room for new members.
Eminem, Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran, Carly Simon, Eurythmics and the married duo of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo were among the artists honored on Saturday night during the Rock Hall’s 37th annual induction ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
The 2022 class of inductees was among the more diverse in the hall’s history, with acts representing hip-hop, country music, R&B, new wave and soft rock; the group also included one artist, Parton, who made waves when she asked that her nomination be withdrawn because she felt she hadn’t earned the right to become a member. (She later said she’d accept the honor.)
Parton bowed out of contention for the Rock Hall of Fame, but her strident independence, embrace of artifice and reinvention all scream rock ‘n’ roll.
Awards were also bestowed on Judas Priest, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Harry Belafonte, the late Elizabeth Cotton, Allen Grubman, Jimmy Iovine and Sylvia Robinson.
The event won’t be televised until Nov. 19 on HBO and HBO Max. But The Times’ Mikael Wood, August Brown and Amy Kaufman were in the building and reporting live.
Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, the Eurythmics and Carly Simon were the other top vote-getters. The induction ceremony will take place in L.A. in November.
6:56 p.m. Greetings from the Microsoft Theater, where audience members — music-biz VIPs and regular plebes alike — are settling into their seats and HBO camerapeople are scurrying to and fro ahead of what promises to be a very long night of back-slapping. I’m sitting in the theater, prepared to witness all the onstage action, while my colleague August Brown is backstage in the press room. — Mikael Wood
7:02 p.m. I’m reporting from the press pen just offstage from the Microsoft Theater. Mikael Wood is out in the crowd with the better-dressed guests.
Greg Harris, the Rock Hall’s chief executive, popped in just before showtime to tout the 13 million visitors to the museum and million-plus students reached since its inception 27 years ago. This year is an exceptionally eclectic class, featuring Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Eurythmics and Eminem among the inductees.
“Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t know boundaries,” Harris said. “Rock ‘n’ roll is inclusive, rock ‘n’ roll is broad and as you can see from this year’s induction class, rock ‘n’ roll is incredibly diverse. It’s an attitude, a spirit. It’s always pushing the envelope. It’s the sound of every new generation defining itself and carrying itself forward. To pick up from Berry Gordy, it’s the sound of young America, but it’s also the sound that stays with us through our entire lives.” — August Brown
7:15 p.m. And we’re getting going with the Rock Hall’s chairman, John Sykes, who’s coming out — to the sound of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” — for an introductory speech. “I love this unpaid job,” Sykes says, before he begins extolling the virtues of this year’s introductory class, which he says encompasses “different colors, genres and sounds.” — MW
7:23 p.m. Robert Downey Jr. is onstage in a lime-green suit pontificating on “what makes longevity” as he inducts Duran Duran, whose origin story, he says, comes down to “confidence and faith.” He’s recounting his 50th birthday party, where Duran Duran performed. “And I s— you not, halfway through ‘Rio,’ a prominent Hollywood director’s wife tore off her bra and tossed it on stage.” — MW
7:32 p.m. The night’s first performance comes from the first-inducted: Duran Duran, which is having a bit of technical trouble. We in the house can hear Simon Le Bon’s vocals — but nothing from the band — as he belts out 1981’s “Girls on Film.” Alerted to the situation, Le Bon stops and jokes: “We just needed to prove to you that we weren’t lip syncing.” Now they’re starting again. — MW
7:40 p.m. Dare I say that Duran Duran sounds better here than they did in September at the Hollywood Bowl? Clearly the band’s being voted into the Rock Hall signals a long-awaited respect for these new wave glamour-pusses — and clearly they’re enjoying it. The lascivious “Girls on Film” into a screwed-tight “Rio” into … the mawkish “Ordinary World” (complete with string section sawing away meaningfully). Oh well. At least they didn’t play “White Lines.” — MW
7:46 p.m. In his speech, Simon Le Bon tells the crowd why Andy Taylor couldn’t be here tonight: The band’s former guitarist has Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with four years ago. — MW
Original Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor missed the Rock Hall induction ceremony but revealed in a letter that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer.
7:47 p.m. Andy Taylor sent a letter in his absence from the stage. “Just over four years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer,” read Le Bon. “Many families have experienced the slow burn of this disease and of course, we are no different. So I speak from the perspective of a family man, but with profound humility to the band, the greatest fans a group could have, and this exceptional accolade. I’m massively disappointed I couldn’t make it, let there be no doubt I was stoked about the whole thing. Even bought a new guitar with the essential whammy. I’m so very proud of these four brothers. I’m amazed at their durability and I’m overjoyed at accepting this award.” — AB
7:53 p.m. As the band’s speech comes to a close, Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes lobbies Rock Hall voters to let in the New York Dolls, who were on the ballot this time but didn’t make the cut. — MW
7:55 p.m. Now we’re watching a video package about Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the groundbreaking pop and R&B production duo known for their work with Janet Jackson, New Edition, George Michael and Mary J. Blige, among many others. Jam and Lewis are receiving the hall’s Musical Excellence Award tonight. — MW
8 p.m. Janet Jackson, wearing a sharp-angled suit and an asymmetrical hairdo, is presenting the award to Jam and Lewis. She’s recounting their work on her 1986 “Control” album: “There was no pressure, and we felt like we were kids,” she says, adding that “nobody had ever asked me what I wanted to talk about” in her songs before the duo did. “What I like most about working with them is they understand that making music is not just about following the trends, chasing the sound or watching the charts. It’s about seeing what you truly feel and expressing it in a way that fans can enjoy and appreciate. The records we made were the records we wanted to hear. And luckily, it turned out, millions of others wanted to hear them as well … If they have a formula, it’s to convey musical truth to the audience of the artists. — MW
8:06 p.m. “This all started out in the basement for us,” Lewis says in the duo’s speech, thanking his mother (who’s sitting near the stage) for putting up with the noise he and Jam made as they learned to build songs growing up in Minneapolis. Well, almost put up with: “We used to hear every day: ‘Turn that s— down!’” Lewis says. “So I thank you, Mom, for tolerating us.” He’s also thanking the Time, the foundational Minneapolis funk band, and Prince, without whom “we never would’ve had a platform,” Lewis says. “We would’ve stayed in the basement bugging my mom forever.” — MW
8:09 p.m. Jam and Lewis paid tribute to 91-year-old Clarence Avant, the “Black Godfather” and legendary music industry executive whose wife Jacqueline was killed in a home invasion last year in L.A. Avant’s hands-off style of guidance helped them shape their sound and opened up their funk to pop, rock and R&B audiences. “Music and meddling don’t go together,” Lewis said, grateful for Avant’s trust over decades. — AB
8:11 p.m. “That’s the most I’ve ever heard Terry Lewis speak in my life,” says Jam, the duo’s more voluble member, as his partner passes him the mic. Jam points out that, in sports, a star typically has to retire before he or she is honored this way. “I don’t see a gold watch quite yet, so I think we still got some time,” he adds. — MW
8:20 p.m Sheryl Crow is here to induct Pat Benatar and Benatar’s husband and longtime collaborator, Neil Giraldo. Crow remembers heading to college to study classical piano and voice — although “what I really wanted was to be Pat Benatar,” she says. Benatar “rocked as hard as any man but still maintained her identity as a woman,” Crow adds, describing her music as “totally individual and immediately recognizable.” — MW
8:31 p.m. Benatar and Giraldo are blasting through a tidy medley of “All Fired Up,” “Love Is a Battlefield” and — “the one that started it,” as Benatar introduces it — “Heartbreaker.” At 69, her voice has lost none of its muscle and grit. And the silver-haired Giraldo can still pull off a neckerchief. — MW
8:32 p.m. Backstage, just minutes after reading the letter from his Duran Duran bandmate Andy Taylor, singer Simon Le Bon admitted he was on the edge of tears thinking about it. “It’s devastating to find out that one of our family is not going to be around for a long while. It is absolutely devastating. We love Andy dearly and you know, I’m not gonna stand here and cry. I think that would be inappropriate, but that’s what I feel like.” — AB
8:56 p.m. Bruce Springsteen is presenting record-producer-turned-music-executive Jimmy Iovine with the rock hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award, reminiscing about the time Iovine took him for a drive to Coney Island and asked him if he could have Springsteen’s song “Because the Night” so his other client Patti Smith could record it and make it a hit (which Smith did). The Boss goes on to describe Iovine’s musical instincts and his commitment to artists. And he reminds the audience that Iovine’s first signing to his label Interscope was Gerardo — the hunky, bare-chested “Rico Suave” guy. — MW
9 p.m. There are some interesting items on display at the lobby merch booth, which is selling swag on behalf of both the honorees and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The priciest tchotchke is a $300 illuminated and framed piece of artwork from Liam Rosenberg — a psychedelic illustration featuring all of the new inductees. There are only 50 of them for sale, and, according to the dudes manning the booth, there may still be close to 50 left, midway through the show. The second most expensive thing for sale? A $80 leather Carly Simon “No Secrets” journal with a gold-embossed feather on the cover. For that price, I’m gonna need to know who the other verses of “You’re So Vain” is about. — Amy Kaufman
9:03 p.m. Iovine begins his acceptance speech by describing how he ended up with a gig as an engineer on Springsteen’s classic “Born to Run”: The guy who had the job quit, and Springsteen’s manager asked Iovine if he could do it. “I’d like to thank myself for having the balls to say yes,” Iovine says. He goes on to run down some of the important figures in his life, including John Lennon, Patti Smith, Bono (who evidently got Iovine drinking cranberry-and-vodka), Dr. Dre (who “changed music and changed my life”) and David Geffen, whom Iovine says boosted his confidence as an executive with this advice: “There are a lot of people in the record business a lot dumber than you.” — MW
9:11 p.m. Introducing Judas Priest — here to receive the Rock Hall’s Musical Excellence Award — Alice Cooper calls the English group “the definitive metal band.” He also compares Judas Priest’s hometown, Birmingham, to “England’s Detroit” and says the band’s induction is “long overdue” — something with which many heavy-metal fans, who’ve long complained about the hall’s dismissal of the genre, would no doubt agree. — MW
9:25 p.m. Is Rob Halford tired of putting on a leather biker’s cap and yowling about breaking the law? He most certainly is not: Dressed in the signature look he’s been rocking for decades, the Judas Priest frontman is leading his longtime (and still long-haired) bandmates through a punchy medley — “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” — that reminds you how deviously hooky Priest’s heavy metal is. — MW
9:34 p.m. “Hi — I’m the gay guy in the band,” Halford says in his acceptance speech to big applause in the room. He hails the metal community as “all inclusive” — of “sexuality, the color of your skin, the faith you believe in or don’t believe in” — and scoffs at outsiders “who look at us and are a little bit scared. Please. We’re all about power and emotion and dedication and the love of heavy metal that we’ve been carrying for 50 years.” — MW
9:43 p.m. Sara Bareilles is here to induct Carly Simon, whose music she describes as a blend of “fierce intelligence, soulful honesty and vulnerability.” Bareilles says “the elegance of her melodies speaks to the complexity of the emotions and experiences she writes” and says Simon “never chased fame or success — they came to her.” — MW
9:54 p.m. Simon is not here, Bareilles says, due to “personal tragedy” — an allusion, one presumes, to the recent deaths of her two sisters, one of whom, Lucy, she sang with in the early days of her career. After reading a short note from the singer, who says she’s “humbled, shocked, proud, overachieved and underqualified and singularly grateful,” Bareilles performs “Nobody Does It Better,” then brings out Olivia Rodrigo, who sings “You’re So Vain” — with wit and verve. Rodrigo’s involvement is a great testament to Simon’s influence on a generation of young singer-songwriters; Taylor Swift’s appearance in a video package about Simon’s career made the same point. — MW
9:56 p.m. Bareilles says backstage that “You’re So Vain” was her introduction to Simon’s music growing up, and remembered she had such “swagger for a woman in the ‘70s.” While Simon was famous for her reticence to perform live in later years, Bareilles admired “that commitment to her own courage, because she was so vocal about how fearful she was. As someone who struggles not as much with stage fright, but my own anxieties and fears, it was just remarkable to me to have someone who’s so outspoken about their challenges, and do it anyway.” — AB
10:02 p.m. A loving testimonial to an entertainment lawyer is perhaps not what the regular people bought tickets for tonight’s show to see. But it’s what’s happening as John Mellencamp toasts Allen Grubman, a high-powered attorney who’s receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Award for his decades of money-making work for the likes of Bono and Springsteen. Still, give Mellencamp credit for juicing his speech with approximately a dozen F-bombs, including this one: “Where the f— were you, Allen, when I signed my first record deal?” — MW
10:15 p.m. After pointing out that Grubman is Jewish — “a true mensch,” he calls him — Mellencamp finishes his tribute with a few impassioned words inspired by the wave of recent antisemitic comments and incidents involving Kanye West, Kyrie Irving and others. “I’m an artist and a gentile whose life has been greatly enriched by my friendship and association with countless Jewish people,” Mellencamp says. “I cannot tell you how f— important it is to speak out if you’re an artist against antisemitism.” He goes on: “Here’s the trick: Silence is complicity. Can I say that again? Silence is complicity. I want to say I’m standing here tonight loudly and proudly in solidarity with Allen, his family and all of the Jewish friends and the entire Jewish people of the world. F— antisemitism. And f— anyone who says anything in that manner.” — MW
10:31 p.m. Lenny Kravitz is inducting Lionel Richie, who he says has “been like a big brother to me” since they met 25 years ago. “When Lionel shows up, everybody gets happy.” Kravitz calls Richie’s songs “the soundtrack of my life, your life and everyone’s life” and says that to name all of them “would take, well, all night long.” (Oof.) Then he goes ahead and lists a bunch of all-time Richie jams — “Brick House,” “Lady,” “Three Times a Lady,” “We Are the World” — before concluding that his honorary big brother is “love personified.” — MW
10:33 p.m. Grubman says backstage that Mellencamp’s speech about antisemitism was “so relevant, and it just tells you the character of John ... What he said was meaningful and important.
“Somebody from the Hall came up right when he gave me his notes,” Grubman continued. “They said, can we have it because we want to put it in the Hall.” — AB
10:51 p.m. Richie’s ecstatic “All Night Long” is easily the closest this evening has gotten to an actual concert, with much of the audience on their feet as the singer and his large band (including horn players) bears down on the song’s ebullient groove. Richie’s medley also includes a dramatic take on “Hello” and a characteristically silky “Easy,” for which he’s joined by Dave Grohl, who rips a tasty guitar solo. — MW
10:57 p.m. In his acceptance speech — which he points out is the result of writing songs that “so many people” said “will destroy your career” — Richie muses on the difference between “creative artists” and “created artists” and recalls the moments in his career when he was told he wasn’t “Black enough.” “Rock ‘n’ roll is not a color — it’s a feeling, it’s a vibe,” he says. “And if we let that vibe come through, this room will grow and grow and grow.” Richie thanks the Commodores for helping him “discover who the hell I was” and finishes by saying he’s “probably not coming home for quite a while. I’m in love with this business.” — MW
11:03 p.m. After taking a moment to “send a shout-out to the young women of Iran,” U2 guitarist the Edge honors Eurythmics with a long story about the creation of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — including its initial rejection by the duo’s label on the grounds that it lacked a strong chorus — then offers a kind of dramatic reading of a few of the song’s key lines. — MW
11:15 p.m. Best outfits of the night go to Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, who are wearing matching snakeskin suits for their hard-driving performance of “Would I Lie to You?,” “Missionary Man” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” — a clever riff on the tight yet vaguely uncanny partnership that made the duo pop stars in the image-obsessed ‘80s. — MW
11:17 p.m. For a singer and songwriter who traversed funk, country, R&B, soft-rock and Caribbean styles, Lionel Richie said backstage that the Rock Hall was an apt place to sum up his one-of-a-kind career. “It’s a very interesting field because it’s only 300 some-odd inductees,” Richie said. “I started out as a fan. So when you think on where we are, where I am, this is a couple of universes away from my original beginnings. But the way you see the body of work, what I think about is how many artists put their time in and didn’t get to a destination. I’m very blessed.” — AB
11:22 p.m. Stewart, in the Eurythmics’ acceptance speech, says that “being in a tiny room with Annie and talking abstractly for hours about what we wanted to do with our art were some of the best times of my life.” He thanks MTV for providing an outlet for “our visual artistry” and thanks the band’s fans for remaining “loyal without a single album release or tour in the last 20 years.” Lennox says the list of people she needs to thank is “like the credit roll after a ‘Lord of the Rings’ film.” Then she says a few words about her type: “We musicians are a diverse and peaceful people. We spread love around the world, not hatred and division. Music is in our blood cells, in our hearts and in the deepest parts of our souls.” — MW
11:36 p.m. Inducting Eminem, many of whose biggest hits he produced, Dr. Dre says he asked the superstar rapper if there was anything he wanted Dre to mention in his speech. “He said, ‘I’d like you to tell everybody I have a huge penis,’” Dre says before getting serious about Eminem’s unlikely journey from being an “unassuming white guy from Detroit” to becoming the biggest-selling artist in hip-hop history. “Eminem wasn’t just an underdog who broke through the glass ceiling of hip-hop — he shattered that s—,” Dre says, noting that Eminem — whom Dre says he didn’t realize was white when he heard his demo for the first time — “brought hip-hop to middle America.” More than that, Dre says, Em “holds a mirror up to white America.” — MW
11:48 p.m. Big guest-star energy in Eminem’s set: After doing a few bars of “My Name Is,” he chews through the rapid-fire rhymes of “Rap God,” then brings out Steven Tyler of Aerosmith for “Sing for the Moment” (which samples Aerosmith’s “Dream On”) followed by Ed Sheeran, who sings Dido’s part in “Stan.” Clearly one of the night’s biggest attractions for TV partner HBO, Eminem — who’s dressed in black pants, black shirt and black hoodie — sticks around for fourth and fifth tunes: “Forever” and “Not Afraid,” both throbbing with rap-rock intensity. — MW
11:57 p.m. Having put on a pair of reading glasses to peruse his notes, Eminem says he probably shouldn’t be here “for a couple of reasons” — first among them because he’s a rapper “and this is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” A few MCs got in before him, he notes, but not that many. Second, “I almost died of an overdose in 2007, “which f— sucked because” — and here he tells his daughter Hailie, who’s in the crowd, to cover her ears — “drugs are f— delicious and I thought we had a good thing going.” Finally, he goes on to list a few dozen of his influences, including 2 Live Crew, 2Pac, Big Daddy Kane, Big Pun, Brand Nubian, the Notorious B.I.G., De La Soul, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Moni Love… “I’m not a tenth of the way done,” he says, and he’s not kidding, as he keeps going, alternating heavyweights like Snoop Dogg with connoisseurs’ faves such as Stetsasonic. “Those are just a few of the names that I hope will be considered in the future for induction,” he says, “because without them my ass wouldn’t be here.” Eminem closes by pointing out that he’s “a high-school dropout with a hip-hop education — and these were my teachers.” — MW
12:02 a.m. The last name mentioned in an In Memoriam video segment was a member of the Rock Hall’s first class of inductees: Jerry Lee Lewis. — MW
12:12 a.m. Pink is here to toast the night’s final inductee: Dolly Parton, whose famously hardscrabble beginnings Pink recounts before describing her as “one of the greatest songwriters of our time” whose music “can make you feel like God is listening and that help is right around the corner.” Pink points out that Parton, as the story goes, wrote “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” on the same night” and that she’s set all kinds of chart records. “But she’s also a kind and generous soul,” Pink says, running down some of Parton’s philanthropic endeavors. Pink finishes by noting that Parton — a welcome comic presence whose wisdom hasn’t always been appreciated as it is now — “didn’t just get the joke, she wrote it. And she doesn’t care if you’re laughing as long as you’re listening.” — MW
12:21 a.m. I’m a rock star now!” Dolly Parton says as she accepts the Rock Hall’s honor — a typically charming reference to her initial request, a few months ago, to be withdrawn from consideration because she didn’t feel she deserved to join an organization devoted to rock music. Having been voted in, though, she says she’s decided she’ll have to make a rock album. “My husband is a huge rock fan,” she says, and often has rock music playing in their house. “He’s always said you should do it,” Parton says, adding that “timing is everything.” Parton tells the audience she’s written a song for tonight, which she’ll play in a few minutes. First, Pink joins Brandi Carlile to sing Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” — MW
12:27 a.m. While we continue to wait for Parton, Sheryl Crow and Zac Brown are doing “9 to 5,” a giant image of ’80s Dolly looming over them on the video screen at the rear of the stage. Great song, stiff performance. — MW
12:37 a.m. Parton is back, and she’s changed outfits into a spangly black-leather number that matches the electric guitar she’s strumming. “If I’m gonna be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I‘m gonna have to earn in it,” she says, launching into a rowdy tune about the spell cast on her when she was young by the music of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. “I’ve been rockin’, rockin’, rockin’ since the day I was born,” she sings, “I’ll be rockin’ till the cows come home.” When the new one’s over, she tells the crowd she’ll stick around to play “Jolene,” for which she’s joined by some of her fellow inductees, including Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Simon Le Bon’s up there too — he even takes a verse — as are Pat Benatar and Rob Halford. “It’s a star-studded stage,” Parton says, adding that she feels like “a hillbilly in the city.” — MW
12:38 a.m. Rob Halford, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox and Dolly Parton — in a black leather catsuit — trading verses on “Jolene” has to be a high watermark of queer culture. The adoring look on Halford’s face alone as he cuddled up to Parton was worth the five-and-a-half-hours of this ceremony. — AB
12:46 p.m. “One last one for the Killer,” says Bruce Springsteen, who’s suddenly appeared onstage with John Mellencamp to pay tribute to the late Jerry Lee Lewis with a rollicking “Great Balls of Fire.” Nearly six hours in, the crowd seems a bit weary. But the two rockers singing their hearts out are having a grand old time, cracking each other up by ripping through one of the hall’s foundational texts. That’ll do it for us here at the ceremony — unlike 70-plus-year-old rock stars, apparently, some of us have to get to bed! Thanks for staying up with us. — MW
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