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Nirvana, Kiss lead Rock Hall of Fame I just wish Kurt was here: Love

NEW YORK, April 11, (Agencies): Nirvana, who set music and fashion trends with their grunge sound but whose career was cut short by leader Kurt Cobain’s suicide 20 years ago, led inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday. Kiss entered the Hall thumbing its nose at critics, the blue-eyed soul duo Hall & Oates called for more Philadelphia bands to join them, Peter Gabriel urged young musicians to use their imaginations, Cat Stevens was visibly touched, Linda Ronstadt was honored in her absence and, predictably, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band turned their induction into a marathon Nirvana was inducted in its first year of eligibility. The trio’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit like a thunderclap upon its 1991 release, briefly making the Pacific Northwest rock’s hottest scene. Joan Jett replaced Cobain onstage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, singing the song with Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. “Nirvana fans walk up to me every day and say thank you for the music,” said Novoselic, the band’s bass player. “When I hear that, I think of Kurt Cobain.”

Surviving
Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, hugged the two surviving band members, with whom she’s had some bad blood. “I just wish Kurt was here to do this,” she said. Former R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe traced Nirvana’s origins through the hardcore punk scene of the 1980s and said they were a voice for the disaffected. He said they were true artists, not just musicians. “This is not pop music,” Stipe said. “This is something much greater than that.” The original four members of Kiss didn’t perform at Barclays due to a dispute between active original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and retired members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. But the original four made peace and saluted each other in heartfelt induction speeches. “This is a pivotal moment for all of us,” said Simmons, the bass player and reality TV star. We are humbled that that the fans gave us the chance to do what we loved doing.”

The theatrical quartet put on makeup, belched blood, shot fireworks out of Frehley’s guitar and sang about wanting to “Rock and Roll All Nite.” They weren’t trendy, but Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello said that Kiss inspired him and their concert was the first he attended. He even fought high school bullies who ridiculed him for liking Kiss. “Tonight proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the high school bullies and critics were wrong,” he said. “Kiss fans were right.” Ronstadt, the sexy siren of the Los Angeles country-rock scene of the 1970s, couldn’t make it to her induction. Now retired, she suffers from Parkinson’s disease and doesn’t travel much. Glenn Frey, who played with fellow future Eagle Don Henley in Ronstadt’s backup band, saluted her with an induction speech.

Ronstadt was saluted by some royalty of female country rock. Carrie Underwood sang “Different Drum,” Ronstadt’s first hit with the Stone Poneys. Underwood was joined by Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt for “Blue Bayou.” Sheryl Crow and Frey made it a quintet to sing “You’re No Good.” Then Stevie Nicks came out to lead them in “It’s So Easy” and “When Will I Be Loved.” Nicks said hearing “Different Drum” when she was in high school made her want to get into music. “I didn’t look that good in cutoffs, but that’s what I was going to do,” she said.

Breakup
Stevens, the 1970s era singer of “Morning Has Broken” and “Wild World,” was inducted by Art Garfunkel, who said his breakup with Paul Simon helped pave the way for Stevens’ entry into the charts. Stevens performed “Father and Son,” ‘’Wild World” and “Peace Train,” joined by a robed choir in the final song.
Springsteen’s 1999 entrance into the Rock Hall without the E Street Band was a sore point for some of its members. Thursday they got their due in the sidemen category, although it was a posthumous honor for saxman Clarence Clemons and keyboard player Danny Federici. In related story, The E Street Band, the group behind Bruce Springsteen, was inducted by the rocker through the Award for Musical Excellence.

Two prominent band managers - Brian Epstein for The Beatles until his death in 1967 and the Rolling Stones’ Andrew Loog Oldham - rounded out the 2014 roster, each receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Awards for lifetime achievement. The annual ceremony, to be aired May 31 on HBO, is centered on live performances but the 1970s shock-rockers KISS, known for their outrageous costumes and makeup and hits such as “Rock and Roll All Nite”, stayed true to their vow not to perform. The four inductees did not all comment on the Hall of Fame’s decision to honor only the band’s original line-up, leaving out current band members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Founding member Gene Simmons said “We are humbled to stand up on this stage” after induction by guitarist Tom Morello, but did mention by name other KISS members who were not honored.

Paul Stanley, who has also been critical of the Hall’s induction process, said “for our fans, this is vindication,” echoing Morello’s remark that “KISS was never a critics’ band, KISS was a people’s band.”
Morello also observed that the over-the-top theatrical band was noteworthy for influencing acts ranging from Lady Gaga to Garth Brooks and Slipknot. Gabriel, lead vocalist for the progressive rock band Genesis who later had solo hits such as “Sledgehammer,” was inducted by Chris Martin and sang “Digging in the Dirt” with him, followed by his hit “In Your Eyes,” from the 1980s youth romance “Say Anything”. He paid tribute to the power of music, which he said “can make you feel so alive ... and think that the world would, could and should be a much better place - and occasionally make you very, very happy.”

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