At the 23rd annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC on Monday, there were big stars (Madonna, Tom Hanks, Billy Joel), maximum-credibility artists (Iggy Pop, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Leonard Cohen), and by our count, three under-50 singers (Ben Harper, Damian Rice, and 49-and-a-half-year-old Joan Jett). So there was, you know, variety. But it may have been a mistake to broadcast, midway through the ceremony, footage of a jam session from 1988’s festivities. Performing “Satisfaction”? Jagger, Richards, Dylan, and Springsteen, as well as Ben E. King, Mary Wilson, John Fogerty, some non-Wilson Beach Boys, and a keytar! Nothing approached that kind of fantasy-camp lineup on Monday. Instead, we got Justin Timberlake, smirking and cracking innuendos like he was a Friar (his cheerleading testimonial seemed ready to burst into “San Dimas High School football rules!” at any moment); Lou Reed comparing a Leonard Cohen novel to Naked Lunch; a Tom Hanks speech so impassioned that he momentarily convinced the audience that the Dave Clark Five was the greatest band of the British Invasion; and, best of all, Iggy and the Stooges turning singles by fellow Detroiter Madonna (“Burning Up” — see embedded video below — and “Ray of Light”) into no-wave anthems. (“The Stooges represent everything that’s against what she is,” guitarist Ron Asheton told the Detroit Free Press on Monday, but bassist Mike Watt was seen bowing to Ms. Ciccone after the performance.)
Other notable moments, after the jump:
Philly soul-is-newsworthy quip: “There’s a little ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ going on right here in New York today,” Kenny Gamble, presumably referring to Governor Spitzer’s slow-jams jam.
Most disarming remembering of the little people:
Madonna thanked her ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, and her old boyfriend, Dan Gilroy, with whom she played in the Breakfast Club. (And then on to managers, publicists, and label heads, but still…)
Looking even more uncomfortable than Madonna during Iggy Pop’s performance: Former CBS head Clive Davis, who probably thought he’d seen the last of Iggy after the Stooges were dropped from the label in 1972. (Leon Huff, on the other hand, was one of relatively few to offer the Stooges a standing ovation.)
Best Randy Newman impression: Billy Joel, who then squandered whatever goodwill this earned by (jokingly?) remarking that Farm Aid would be helpful to him and “all the real estate I’ve been buying”
Most cringe-inducing adlib: “My wife was 13 years old when I wrote this song,” — John Mellencamp, unwisely deciding to add lyrics to “Small Town”
Clearest sign that the record industry isn’t getting smarter: After John Fogerty noted that while the Ventures “made over 250 records, today I’d be glad to sell 250,” Joel congratulated Mellencamp that “the record industry died before you did!” So what was the bulkiest item in the gift bag from the organizers? A 30-pack of blank CDs.