Although a winning night for music fans everywhere, the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Cleveland's Public Hall on April 14th was marred by the absence of three major performers. The Faces' Rod Stewart, who frankly has always found an excuse to not reunite with the band in the past decade, backed out of the brief reunion performance at the 11th hour claiming he had the flu and was ordered by doctors to remain at home in Los Angeles. Shortly before his death, the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch had been battling cancer for the past several years and sent his regrets in missing the ceremony, and Axl Rose issued a statement last week citing personal and political problems with his former Guns N' Roses bandmates, the Rock Hall, and the music business in general.
Steve Van Zandt inducted the Small Faces and Faces -- who flew in current frontman Mick Hucknall of Simply Red to perform -- and explained how magical it was for lightening to strike twice to the same band: "Not too many bands get a second life. In this case, I'm sure, it helped having not just one, but miraculously two white soul singers in the history of rock n' roll -- Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart (applause)."
Ron Wood took time out to mention the missing Faces bandmates, Rod Stewart and the late Ronnie Lane: "Thank you very much for inducting us all, and Rod Stewart in his absence, God bless him, he's still part of the family, y'know, and Ronnie Lane, his spirit lives on and we were his family anyway, so we'll accept his award for him, alright?"
The Faces performed three songs -- the Small Faces' Mod favorite, "All Or Nothing," "Ooh La La," and their signature tune, "Stay With Me."
Following their induction by Green Day, Guns N' Roses founding guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler were joined by later drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Gilby Clarke for three songs -- "Mr. Brownstone," "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City" -- from the band's classic 1987 debut, Appetite For Destruction. Providing vocals in the absence of Axl Rose was Myles Kennedy, the singer for Alter Bridge and Slash's current solo band.
Sorum played drums for "Mr. Brownstone," while original drummer Adler took over for the other two songs. In addition to Rose, other missing members included original guitarist Izzy Stradlin and longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who still plays in the current version of the band.
Die-hard Donovan fan John Mellencamp inducted his hero and recalled his glory days in the mid-'60s: "I bought my first Donovan record in 1965. I was in the seventh grade and back then we waited for every record and I waited for every album he made to come out so that I could learn to play those songs. I wasn't just listenin' to Donovan, I was livin' Donovan (applause)"
Donovan took the stage acoustically to perform his 1965 breakthrough hit "Catch The Wind" and his 1966 chart-topper, "Sunshine Superman" before being joined by Mellencamp for a full-band workout of 1966's "Season Of The Witch."
Carole King inducted late music impresario Don Kirshner with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers.
Chris Rock inducted the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the last act of the night to be inducted, saying, "If George Clinton and Brian Wilson had a kid, he'd be ugly -- but he'd be Red Hot Chili Peppers." He also recalled the first time he ever saw the band, saying, "They came out and I couldn't understand a f***ing word they said, and they had socks on their d***s!"
In addition to current members Anthony Kiedis on vocals, Flea on bass, Josh Klinghoffer on guitar and Chad Smith on drums, former drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez were also inducted. Ex-guitarist John Frusciante did not attend. Late guitarist Hillel Slovak's brother accepted Hillel's induction. Flea choked up during his induction speech while remembering Slovak, saying that he was the one who told Flea to take up the bass.
The Chili Peppers performed three hits after their induction, including 1991 chestnut "Give It Away," 2002 smash "By The Way," and 2011's "The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" from their latest album, I'm With You. The Peppers' performance led smoothly into the traditional closing jam session, which featured the Peppers, Slash, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, George Clinton, Ronnie Wood -- who was inducted earlier in the evening as part of the Faces/Small Faces -- and others blowing out a vibrant version of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."
ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill inducted blues legend Freddie King in the Early Influences category.
Robbie Robertson inducted legendary producer/engineers Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd, and Glyn Johns with the Award of Musical Excellence.
Smokey Robinson did the honors for the legendary backing groups the Blue Caps (Gene Vincent), the Comets (Billy Haley), the Crickets (Buddy Holly), the Famous Flames (James Brown), the Midnighters (Hank Ballard) and the Miracles (Smokey Robinson).