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Solid versions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio” followed, leaving the rockers’ rabid fans in a state of exhilaration, simultaneously playing air drums, shouting along with the lyrics and filming it all on their iPhones.
A RUSH TO FAME
Toronto Rockers Dominate Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony Which Also Inducts Heart, Donna Summer, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Albert King, Quincy Jones, Lou Adler
For only the second time in its 28-year history, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its induction ceremony in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre, but it was a Canadian rock group which stole the show.

From the moment HOF Chairman Jann Wenner uttered the phrase, “from Toronto,” Rush fans exploded with a two-minute standing ovation that picked up in momentum when the giant video screens showed Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neal Peart at their table.

Bolstered by the first-ever public vote, Rush was inducted into the Hall by Foo FightersDave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, who asked the evening’s top question, “When the fuck did Rush become cool?” It was no mistake that this was the first time the public was invited to take part in the voting process, and only the second time tickets were sold to the public after last year’s bash at the Hall of Fame and Museum’s home in Cleveland.

The last time the Hall of Fame was in L.A. back in 1993, the show was held at a Century Plaza hotel, where Cream reformed, Eddie Vedder sat in for Jim Morrison while the Doors were inducted and members of Creedence Clearwater Revival were prevented from joining John Fogerty on the stage to perform, sitting at their tables, instruments at the ready.

The vibe was a lot more pleasant this time around, with the rest of the inductees including Heart, Donna Summer, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Albert King, Quincy Jones and Lou Adler.

The evening got off to a perfect start, with Randy Newman leading a band which included Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and Fogerty exchanging verses on “I Love L.A.,” before being inducted by Don Henley, who noted about a recent Newman performance in Texas: “When you can get 2,000 people to applaud a song like ‘Rednecks’ in a state that’s elected Rick Perry three times, you are a hell of an artist.!”

The typically self-deprecating Newman offered the fact “It’s hard for me to express a genuine emotion…as you can tell from my writing,” before performing “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” and, with Henley, the appropriate, “I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It).”

A hilarious Cheech & Chong stand-up bit about meeting Lou Adler for the first time served as an induction speech, climaxed by Tommy pantomiming snorting a line off his desk, with Carole King, whose Tapestry Adler produced, providing the musical accompaniment with “So Far Away.”

Adler finished his speech with a reference to how industry toastmaster (and fellow basketball fan) Joe Smith once referred to him at an industry dinner: “How does it feel after all those hits…to be known as the guy with the hat and beard who sits next to Jack Nicholson at Lakers games?” Even Jack, at the table, which also included a visibly moved Michelle Phillips, Dean Torrence (of Jan and Dean) and Herb Alpert, liked that one.

Then it was John Mayer’s turn to induct blues guitar legend Albert King, clutching the performer’s famed flying V and demonstrating the difference between his riffs and those of T-Bone Walker and B.B. King.  “Albert is the reason guitarists break high E-strings,” he proclaimed before joining phenom Gary Clark Jr. on-stage to trade licks on a searing “Born Under a Bad Sign," with yet another Hall of Famer, Booker T. Jones, on B3 organ.

Then it was time for the late Donna Summer to be inducted by Destiny Child member Kelly Rowland, who suggested she, along with several others, were probably conceived listening to the disco diva’s classic Giorgio Moroder-produced “Love to Love You Baby.” A sparking Jennifer Hudson performed a tribute to Summer with letter-perfect renditions of “Bad Girl” and “Last Dance.” Husband Bruce Sudano and Donna’s three daughters then accepted on behalf of their wife and mother.

Then, it was time for a real rock star as Oprah Winfrey honored Quincy Jones, who gave her career a jump-start when he cast her in his version of The Color Purple.  In his long rambling speech—which still didn’t match his own induction of Ahmet Ertegun years before—he called Louis Jordan and Lionel Hampton “the first rock and roll bands for me.”

Spike Lee and Harry Belafonte came to praise inductee Public Enemy’s fearless radical politics, with Belafonte even quoting the seminal rappers’ “Fight the Power,” before the group’s Flava Flav filibustered for about 20 minutes, while Chuck D kept pointing at the clock around his neck to hurry up. Demonstrating how rap incorporated blues and rock’s roots, Terminator X proceeded to scratch up all the inductees’ music, before the reconstituted rappers tackled “Bring the Noise,” “911 is a Joke” and “Power.”

Fellow Seattle native Chris Cornell then inducted Heart, with Nancy Wilson standing up for “working moms” and Ann Wilson adding, “When I leave this earth, I will look back with love because I got the chance to sing. I never ever take it for granted."

The band played “Crazy on You” and the acoustic “Dreamboat Annie” before Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready joined them on-stage for a crackling “Barracuda,” Ann hitting every note with force and ease.

Then it was time to introduce Rush, which had the crowd in delirium. Grohl and Hawkins then donned the band’s infamous kimonos and wigs in a Spinal Tappish version of “2112,” eventually joined by the band themselves. Guitarist Alex Lifeson’s acceptance speech was one of the evening’s highlights, composed solely of “blah blah blahs,” as he pantomimed his feelings on getting the honor. Solid versions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio” followed, leaving the rockers’ rabid fans in a state of exhilaration, simultaneously playing air drums, shouting along with the lyrics and filming it all on their iPhones. Who knew Rush fans were so adept at multi-tasking?

For the finale, one and all hit the stage for a version of Cream’s “Crossroads,” with Chuck D joined by Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels, rhyming, “The blues gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll,” leading into a full-on raucous jam, with Tom Morello, Lifeson, Clark and Fogerty feverishly trading licks into the night, ending with Rush and Chuck D arm in arm, a true physical manifestation of an evening dedicated to rock and roll’s eclectic, genre-defying roots and progression.

And while the crop seemed to lack a true galvanizing element, it served as a tribute for the many tributaries which make up the rock and roll stream, from Mississippi to Long Island, N.Y., the blues to disco and rap, folk to progressive, and  everything in between.

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