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Arts & Culture

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions back live in Cleveland

Kabir Bhatia
The Rock Hall Induction Ceremony was in Cleveland for the first time since 2018.

“What’s up, Ohio?”

That’s how Dave Grohl, the Warren-born lead singer of the Foo Fighters greeted the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse crowd Saturday night after accepting his Rock Hall Induction award.

The Foo Fighters closed out the program performing “Get Back,” a song by the Beatles, alongside Sir Paul McCartney.

McCartney “inducted” the Foo Fighters, meaning he honored the band with a speech before they accepted the award.

JAY-Z was inducted by comedian Dave Chappelle, a Yellow Springs, Ohio resident, who also showed some Ohio love.

“O-H,” Chapelle said, the classic call and response chant for Ohio State fans. “Welcome to Ohio to all of the inductees.”

JAY-Z represents a recent wave of hip-hop artists breaking through to Rock Hall enshrinement. Chappelle, a hip-hop fanatic with a history of hosting hip-hop shows, made note of that.

“I need everybody in rock and roll to know that even if you are honoring him, he is ours. He is hip-hop,” Chappelle said.

Fellow hip-hip pioneer LL Cool J also made the 2021 Rock Hall class. He brought some surprise artists on stage to join his performance – Eminem and Jennifer Lopez.

“I definitely love representing hip-hop here to the fullest.” LL Cool J told media members backstage. “We all are looking for something new and fresh. We all want to hear some good music. I don’t know who it was, but they said, ‘there’s only two types of music: good and bad.’ I’m a true believer in that.”

Gabriel Kramer
Rock Hall Chief Curator Nwaka Onwusa and LL Cool J.

The Rock Hall museum currently has an exhibition area highlighting each inductee. Rock Hall Chief Curator Nwaka Onwusa shared news backstage of the newest addition to the LL Cool J exhibit – a diamond and gold multi-finger ring from the pioneering rapper.

The Rock Hall induction ceremony was last in Cleveland in 2018 and the Rock Hall went without a live in-person ceremony in 2020, due to COVID.

Several out-of-town guests were happy to be back in Cleveland for the ceremony.

“I thought it was amazing. I thought it was really good. It was a beautiful ceremony,” David Taylor from Detroit said. “It was well worth the trip.”

Alexis Thompson visited from Las Vegas.

Gabriel Kramer
Alexis Thompson visited Cleveland from Las Vegas.

“It was awesome. We had a great time. We have been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and we came over here tonight just to see what the induction ceremony was all about. This is our first time and it was great,” Thompson said.

There was definitely no shortage of fun moments from the Saturday night show.

While inducting the Go-Go’s, Drew Barrymore wrapped her hair in a towel and put on an exfoliating face mask to pay homage to the 1981 Go-Go’s album ‘Beauty and the Beat.’

Inductee Tina Turner was previously honored in 1991 for her work with ex-husband Ike Turner, but Saturday night the singer went into the hall of fame for her solo work. Though she wasn't able to attend the show, an all-star tribute filled the bill, including Christina Aguilera, Mickey Guyton, H.E.R. and Keith Urban.

Taylor Swift opened the show performing “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” by the Shirelles, a song Carol King co-wrote.

King, a 2021 inductee who was previously inducted as a songwriter in 1990, called Swift her professional granddaughter.

“The version that she did tonight was amazing. She just owned it,” King said. “No one's ever done it that way and that’s my joy as a songwriter.”

Gabriel Kramer
Jennifer Hudson and Carole King.

Fresh off her starring role in the Aretha Franklin biopic, "Respect," Jennifer Hudson was on hand to perform "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman," made famous by Franklin and composed by King.

The fast-paced four-and-a-half-hour ceremony also saw the inductions of Charley Patton, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, Billy Preston, Gil Scott Heron and Randy Rhoads.

The 2022 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony will take place in Los Angeles.
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