Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl
The heart of rock & roll really is still beating.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame staged its 29th annual induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn back in April, and HBO will air excerpts of the event on Saturday. This year's inductees spanned six decades of music, including Nirvana, KISS, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, the E Street Band and, for the first time ever, two managers: The Beatles' Brian Epstein and The Rolling Stones' Andrew Loog Oldham.
Here are 10 highlights from the ceremony that will be shown on Saturday's special — as well as five backstage moments that viewers won't get to see:
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1. Random celebrity sightings: While most of the action is obviously happening on stage, some of the best moments come from audience reaction shots as the camera scans the crowd. Some of the more head-scratching attendees? Bill Murray, Steven Spielberg, Dan Aykroyd and John McEnroe.
2. Chris Martin takes us to Sunday School: Coldplay singer Chris Martin introduces Peter Gabriel with clever remarks that put a new spin on Gabriel's time with Genesis. "I didn't know how to start my speech, so I remembered that as a kid my mom said, always turn to the Bible for guidance," Martin tells the crowd. "With that, I'd like to read to you from the Book of Genesis. It came to pass at that time that an angel of the lord descended and appeared before Phil the Collins. And Phil the Collins said to him, 'Who are you, O angel? And the angel replied, 'I am Gabriel. I bring you this good news. I am going solo.'" And so on.
3. Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour's "In Your Eyes": Singer-percussionist Youssou N'Dour — "the unofficial king of Senegal" — flew in from Africa to join Gabriel for an inspired rendition of Gabriel's hit "In Your Eyes." N'Dour, who also collaborated with Gabriel on the original 1986 version of the song, translates one verse into his native language, Wolof.
4. Star-studded Linda Ronstadt tribute: Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks,Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris join forces to fill in for Linda Ronstadt, whose Parkinson's Disease has left her unable to travel, according to her longtime friend Glenn Frey. "Some of the great female singers that Linda inspired are here tonight to pay tribute to her," said Frey, who inducted Ronstadt. The highlight of the ladies' set? Listening to them harmonize (with Frey also taking a mic) on Ronstadt's classic "It's So Easy."
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5. Tom Morello's KISS speech: In the night's most impassioned induction speech, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello introduces KISS with remarks that make us wonder if he's ever considered a career in public speaking. Morello recalls himself and other KISS fans getting bullied "by the self-appointed arbiters of taste in middle schools and high schools across America" for worshiping the glam-rock band, and his telling of his first KISS concert experience is delivered with the gusto of slam poetry.
6. Cat Stevens has jokes!: The juxtaposition of Stevens — who abandoned fame in favor of a life of spirituality and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam — being inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside KISS and Nirvana is not lost on anyone, least of all the singer himself. Of the Hall of Fame's decision to include him, Stevens notes: "Considering that the judges have actually voted for someone who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't throw televisions out of hotel rooms and only sleeps with his wife, I'd say it was a very brave decision. And one which was unexpected, and strangely, outrageously rock & roll. Peace!"
7. Bruce Springsteen's mea culpa: During his introduction of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen — who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 1999 — candidly recalls a conversation he had with guitarist Steven Van Zandt at that time. Though Van Zandt was pushing for the group to be inducted together, Springsteen refused. "I was proud of my independence," he admits. "We hadn't played together in 10 years. We were somewhat estranged. We were just taking the first small steps of re-forming, and perhaps the shadow of some of the old grudges still held some sway. It was a conundrum."
8. The E Street band honors Clarence Clemons: Springsteen and the other members of the E Street Band all pay homage to saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011. Clemons' widow, Victoria, accepts the trophy on his behalf. "He was known as the Big Man for many reasons," she tells the audience, and responds to the roaring laughter that ensued with, "You guys are so bad." (Not shown: She also played a voicemail she had saved, of the Big Man scat-singing in his car.)
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9. Dave Grohl and Courtney Love make nice: Accepting for Nirvana are founding membersDave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's mother and sisters on behalf of the late singer. (Absent: Love and Cobain's daughter Frances.) After Grohl and Novoselic speak, Love stepped up to the microphone, greeted by applause and a few boos. "I have a big speech, but I'm not gonna say it," she says. Though she and Grohl have had a notoriously fraught relationship since Cobain's death, they put aside their differences on this night, with Love warmly embracing Grohl on stage.
10. Nirvana's performance: The hands-down Big Moment of the night is the bittersweet reunion of Nirvana, with Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear playing four songs with a rotating lineup of female singers filling in for Kurt Cobain. Joan Jett kicks things off with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (see part of that performance below), followed by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordonhandling vocals on "Aneurysm," St. Vincent taking the mic for "Lithium," and Lorde exceeding all expectations with a show-closing performance of "All Apologies," with large images of Cobain looming over the band on a backdrop.
The best backstage moments you won't see:
1. Ace Frehley addresses the KISS reunion controversy: Though it isn't brought up during their acceptance speech, the reason KISS didn't perform was because the band members (both new and original) couldn't agree on which lineup should perform. Guitarist Ace Frehleyaddressed the controversy backstage, implying it was a less-than-unanimous decision. "It wasn't my choice [not to perform]," he said. "I wanted to do it. ... We're still brothers in rock & roll."
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2. The E Street Snoozefest: It's no wonder Bruce Springsteen concerts typically last upward of three hours. The E Street Band's segment at the induction brought the ceremony to a grinding halt, lasting well over an hour as each member of the ensemble took a turn at the podium after a lengthy introduction by Springsteen himself. (Thankfully, they've been edited into a montage of sorts and overlaid over the band's performance for the broadcast version.) While individual members' tributes to deceased members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici were touching, the band's longwinded remarks overall left the crowd feeling more than a little restless.
3. Hall and Oates knock Springsteen: You'll hear John Oates say, "Lucky for you, there's only two of us," at the start of his and Daryl Hall's acceptance speech, to enthusiastic applause from the crowd. But here's the backstory: Hall & Oates were the second-to-last act to be inducted at the end night, and took the stage around 11 p.m., after the E Street Band's segment had lasted well over an hour. Then, when Hall & Oates finally plugged in their instruments, technical issues forced them to stop playing about a minute into "She's Gone." Hall complained about the sound coming through his monitors and icily quipped, "Did Bruce blow them all out?" as the crew tinkered with the equipment. (He probably also won't be pleased that the band's performance of "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" has been edited out of the broadcast version.)
4. Michael Stipe recalls meeting Kurt Cobain: R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe fielded a few questions backstage as he was preparing to introduce Nirvana. Of the first time he met singer Kurt Cobain, Stipe said: " He and Courtney [Love] had moved into the house next door to my former guitar player, Peter Buck. They lived side by side. ... The first time I looked into his eyes, I just went, 'I get it. He is all that. He's a very special person.' He had really blue eyes."
5. Courtney Love makes an entrance: Spotted from the press room: Courtney Love careening into the backstage area like a whirling dervish, crashing into the ladies' room, emerging after a couple of minutes, and rushing out as quickly as she came in — literally running back out into the main arena moments before Nirvana was introduced.
The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs Saturday at 8/7c on HBO. Check out "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with Joan Jett on vocals below. Will you watch the show? Which acts are you most excited to see?