News : Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees
Hail, hail, Rock and Roll Hall: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 26th annual induction ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Monday night. This year's honorees: performers Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Darlene Love and Tom Waits; non-performers Jac Holzman and Art Rupe (respectively founders of Elektra and Specialty Records), and "sideman" (and accomplished singer/songwriter) Leon Russell.
Before dinner: A trim, smiling Michael Douglas (in remission for throat cancer) — with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones at his side — was there to see "my dear friend" Alice Cooper inducted. "And if you haven't seen Dr. John in a while," Douglas added, "he's playing great." For Leon Russell, the honor was "unexpected. Elton (John) set out to get me in," he said. "That's probably why it happened."
Graduation day: After 16 years of eligibility, Alice Cooper observed that getting into the hall was "like graduating. I feel like I'm getting a diploma — becoming a real person, you know?"
Two legends:John Legend met Dr. John at a Hurricane Katrina benefit. Legend's conclusion? "(He's) never stopped flying the flag of funk."
Feeling the Love: Bette Midler joked that "at least now when you Google 'bette midler rock and roll hall of fame,' SOMETHING will come up." Then she called Love "the embodiment of teen spirit" in her era. A still-feisty Love graciously thanked a long string of musicians and industry insiders, including Phil Spector.
Inspired by:Rob Zombie credited Cooper with "inventing the rock show." The band Alice Cooper were the first live performers, kicking off its set with the adolescent anthem I'm Eighteen to approving hoots and hollers. The group kept rocking through Under My Wheels and was joined by Zombie and a choir of kids from the Ronald McDonald House for School's Out.
Words fail him: Neil Young described Waits as "undescribable" — a "magician, spirit guide and changeling." "They say that I have no hits and that I'm difficult to work with — and they say that like it's a bad thing," quipped Waits in a wittily rambling speech that included tender shout-outs to his "incandescent" wife and kids.
Elton's idol: John spoke of spotting Russell in the audience at one of his early shows. "He sang and wrote and played the way I wanted to," but the two lost touch for decades. In his short, gracious acceptance speech, Russell thanked John for finding him "in a ditch on the highway of life" and "treat(ing) me like a king."
Rough cut: Paul Simon pointed out that Neil Diamond was eligible for induction 20 years ago: "What took so long?" Simon's theory: "Six words: You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Anymore)" — because Barbra Streisand isn't considered a rocker. Diamond entered to the most rousing applause of the evening. "I still would sing that song with Barbra — she's the greatest," he said in a comical, profanity-laced speech. "Even if you didn't vote for me, I still love you."
Paul Shaffer played bandleader and master of ceremonies as other musicians followed, with some surprise guests. Dr. John pleased the crowd with a frisky Right Place, Wrong Time, then was joined by a fluid-voiced John Legend for Such A Night. John Mayer played guitar on Leon Russell's Delta Lady and A Song For You; while Bruce Springsteen was the guest guitarist for Darlene Love's set, providing muscular support for her soulful Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Love's set continued with (Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry and He's A Rebel, the latter performed as an exuberant duet with Bette Midler. Diamond milked a trio of fan faves —Cherry Cherry, I Am I Said and Sweet Caroline— before the evening's final jam session: Stagger Lee followed by Da Doo Ron Ron.
by Elysa Gardner
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