Rock Hall 2018: Howard Stern Inducts Bon Jovi, Lauryn Hill Sings Nina Simone, The Killers Cover Tom Petty, & More

Earlier this year, during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the great stand-up comic John Mulaney had a great bit about how ridiculous and bad the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony is every year. And last night, funnily enough, the same night that Mulaney was hosting Saturday Night Live, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony was taking place at Cleveland’s Public Hall.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony couldn’t even make the claim that it was the biggest musical event of the night. That would without a doubt be Beyoncé’s instantly iconic two-hour headlining set at Coachella. But plenty of performances and lengthy speeches still kept things memorable as Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame yesterday.

The Killers opened the ceremony by paying tribute to the late, great Tom Petty with covers of “American Girl” and “Free Fallin’.” And later in the show, frontman Brandon Flowers returned to the stage to induct another of his formative influences, the Cars. “The Cars were the first band I fell in love with,” he said. “And you never forget your first … They achieved greatness and left a comet trail behind them, writing and recording songs that have transcended into classics.”

Howard Stern was also on hand to induct Bon Jovi, an honor that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recognized by proclaiming April 14th “Bon Jovi Day” in New Jersey. Following an extremely lengthy 18-minute speech from Jon Bon Jovi himself, the band reunited with founding members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such to perform “You Give Love a Bad Name,” It’s My Life,” and their 2016 song “When We Were Us” before concluding, of course, with “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

Elsewhere in the show, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard covered Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s 1938 classic “That’s All” with Questlove and Paul Shaffer after inducting Tharpe into the Hall Of Fame as an Early Influence. Heart’s Ann Wilson and Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell performed a stripped-down version of Chris Cornell’s “Black Hole Sun” during the in memoriam segment. The Cars performed hits including “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “You Might Think,” “Moving In Stereo,” and “Just What I Needed” with Weezer’s Scott Shriner sitting in for the late Benjamin Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, on bass. The Moody Blues, introduced by Ann Wilson, performed “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band),” “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Ride My See-Saw,” and “Nights in White Satin.” And then there was Nina Simone.

“Nina was bold, strong, feisty and fearless, and so vulnerable and transparent all at the same time,” Mary J. Blige said in her induction speech. “Her voice was so distinctive and warm and powerful; I never heard anything like it. She knew who she was and she was confident in what she did and why she did it. But it was often the lack of confidence in herself that people could relate to. Nina sang for all her pain, her joy, her confusion, her happiness, her sickness, her fight. She fought through all the stereotypes. She fought for her identity. She fought for her life.”

Simone’s brother Nyack Sam Waymon accepted the honor on her behalf, and Lauryn Hill, the Roots, and Andra Day took the stage to pay tribute with performances of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” “I Put A Spell on You,” “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair,” and “Feeling Good.”

When Pearl Jam were inducted into the Rock Hall last year, bassist Jeff Ament wore a t-shirt listing names of influential bands that have not been inducted. And after last night’s ceremony, he updated the shirt, crossing out Bon Jovi, Nina Simone, and the Cars and adding in Radiohead and Rage Against The Machine.

Until next year!