Typically, the most exciting thing about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony happens outside of the actual event. Arguments crop up around the long list of potential nominees that are revealed every year and then another argument starts when they let us all know who is getting in. But due to the sheer impact of the musicians we’ve lost in the last year, the notably strange situation in the White House and the outsized names being inducted, this year’s ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was uncharacteristically eventful.
We’ve compiled a few of the standout moments below.
The Rock Hall Honors Chuck Berry
— Eric Renner Brown (@ericrennerbrown) April 7, 2017
It’s fair to say that without Chuck Berry, the Rock Hall wouldn’t exist. They recognized as much during their founding by making the proto-rocker the Hall’s first-ever inductee in 1986. Berry was honored three times over, with an introductory speech by Rolling Stone‘s Jann Wenner, a tribute package featuring famous rockers paying fealty to the late legend and with a performance by Electric Light Orchestra as they were being inducted.
Rock Hall performances are notoriously constrained. They kind of have to be when legendary bands are asked to sum up their careers in a few songs. Even so, ELO gave up a portion of their performance to play their cover of “Roll Over Beethoven” before their own big hits “Evil Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky.”
Joan Baez Is Still Political
Famed folkie and activist Joan Baez used her acceptance speech to due what she’s done for more than 50 years, push for causes she believes in.
“Where empathy is failing, and sharing has become usurped by greed and lust for power, let us double, triple and quadruple our own efforts to empathize,” she said. “Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion a priority. Together, let us build a bridge — a great bridge, a beautiful bridge — to once again welcome the tired and the poor. And we will pay for that bridge with our commitment.”
If the target of her speech wasn’t apparent, she later shouted out President Donald Trump during a rendition of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”