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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2012 Induction Ceremony Delivers Thrills

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images

The inductions of Guns N’ Roses, Donovan, and the Faces were hardly the only highlights from what was a memorable evening of celebration at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. ZZ Top, John Mellencamp and several other big stars also made a big impact with their induction speeches, and the evening’s traditional all-star jam once again proved to be a blast. 

We already shared the full transcript of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s speech inducting Guns N’ Roses, a report on GNR’s live performance and a recap of everything the Faces got up to during this packed night.

Impressively, Mellencamp may have gotten nearly as many laughs as his fellow speech-giver, reigning stand-up king Chris Rock, got during his time on the podium. Inducting British singer/songwriter Donovan, the former John Cougar discussed his own intense naturee and how that contrasted with the more mellow personality of Donovan.

Of Donovan’s music, Mellencamp said “I wasn’t just listening to Donovan – I was living Donovan… and stealing a lot of sh-t from Donovan,” dryly noting that other musicians might call that same theft “being inspired.”

Mellencamp revealed he didn’t meet his mentor until years later. Apparently, he was in the recording studio working on his own album and nearly got into a fist fight with his guitar player, which somehow found him literally at Donovan’s feet.

Proving his fandom and love for was legitimate in true vinyl collector fashion, Mellencamp brought his prized 47-year-old original weathered Donovan record, complete with his own name scrawled on the cover.

After the nearly 10 minute speech, Donovan took the stage and said with a smile, “Thank you, John — that was quite an introduction.” The pair would later share the stage for a mystical rendition of Donovan’s signature song, ‘Season of the Witch.’

Bette Midler gave a moving speech to remember the “extraordinary” Laura Nyro, who she declared “the very essence of New York City.” ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill paid tribute to legendary bluesman Freddie King, with Hill calling King “one of three great guitar players that I’ve had the pleasure of playing with.”

Following appreciative comments from King’s daughter Wanda King, the pair led a two-song jam that found Gibbons trading licks with Joe Bonamassa and the Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks. After opening with the instrumental ‘Hideaway,’ Gibbons, Hill and Bonamassa swapped vocals on the time-honored standard ‘Goin’ Down.’

It set the bar high for the evening quite early, leaving a lot for the later inductees to live up to, but the members of Guns N’ Roses, the Faces and Red Hot Chili Peppers stepped up to the plate in subsequent performances during the evening.

During his speech, Rock called the Red Hot Chili Peppers the “quintessential California band” and said, “If Brian Wilson and George Clinton had a kid, he’d be ugly as f–k, but he would sound like the Chili Peppers. He’d be funky.”

The Chili Peppers reeled off a short set of songs that began with the title track from 2002’s ‘By The Way’ and then kicked off an evening-closing jam that found Ron Wood, Slash and George Clinton joining in for a spirited run through Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground.’

The five and a half hour event will air in a condensed two and a half hour format — good luck with that editing, guys! — courtesy of HBO on Saturday, May 5.

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