Women, often overlooked for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inclusion, owned Thursday’s induction ceremony in New York, which culminated at midnight with Joan Jett fronting the surviving members of Nirvana on “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon also stood in for Kurt Cobain, who died 20 years ago this month, on “Aneurism,” while Annie Clark (St. Vincent) led Nirvana on “Lithium,” and Lorde -- who was born two years after Cobain’s death in 1994 -- growled through “All Apologies.” Their vocal tones and physical statures resembled those of Cobain. “He was such an angel,” his mother said prior to the performance. Courtney Love, Cobain’s wife, embraced assist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, adding, “I just wish Kurt was here to feel this.”
Nirvana’s 23-minute performance ended a night that stretched over five hours. Linda Ronstadt was the only woman inducted this year, and did not attend the ceremony for health reasons. But shortly after the Eagles’ Glenn Frey inducted her, a lineup featuring Carrie Underwood, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks paid tribute by interpreted one song each from Ronstadt’s 50-year career. “She was the heart of the matter, she really was,” Nicks remarked before the group closed together with “When Will I Be Loved.”
Often criticized for shutting out minorities at induction time, the Hall ended up boasting strong moments not only for women, but for those well into their 60s: Ronstadt is the oldest, at 67; Daryl Hall is younger by a few months. Yusuf Islam is 65, John Oates turned 65 this month, and Peter Gabriel is the youngest at 64. Each performed hits from their younger and most successful years, with Gabriel and Hall & Oates playing songs they recorded in their 30s.
As he inducted Hall & Oates, Questlove of the Roots had one of the most memorable lines of the night. When the cover of their 1975 Silver Album flashed on-screen, his smile widened: “Those guys made good-looking women!”