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Janet Jackson accepted her honor on Friday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center by calling for other women to join her. “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” she said, “in 2020, induct more women.”
Jackson and fellow inductee Stevie Nicks joined a quintet of British bands in the hall. Two of Radiohead’s five members picked up trophies, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music thanked multiple bass players and album cover designers and The Cure’s Robert Smith proudly wore his mascara and red lipstick a month shy of his 60th birthday.
Def Leppard and The Zombies were also inducted.
Jackson followed her brothers Michael and the Jackson 5 as inductees. She said she wanted to go to college and become a lawyer growing up, but her late father Joe had other ideas for her.
“As the youngest in my family, I was determined to make it on my own,” Jackson said. “I was determined to stand on my own two feet. But never in a million years did I expect to follow in their footsteps.”
Jackson encouraged Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, producers of her 1986 breakthrough Control album and most of her vast catalog, to stand in recognition, as well as booster Questlove. She thanked the late Dick Clark of American Bandstand and the late Don Cornelius of Soul Train, along with stage choreographers.
There was some potential for awkward vibes Friday, since the event was being filmed April 27 to air on HBO. The pay cabler angered the Jackson family recently for showing Leaving Neverland, a documentary about two men who allege Michael Jackson abused them when they were boys. Janet never mentioned Michael specifically in her remarks but thanked her brothers, and he was shown onscreen with the rest of the family.
Jackson was inducted by an enthusiastic Janelle Monae, whose black hat and black leather recalled some of her hero’s past stage looks. She said Jackson had been her phone’s screen-saver for years as a reminder to be focused and fearless in how she approached art.
Nicks was the night’s first induction. She is already a member of the hall as a member of Fleetwood Mac, but only the first woman to join 22 men — including all four Beatles members — to have been honored twice by the rock hall for the different stages of their career.
Nicks offered women a blueprint for success, recalling her trepidation in first recording a solo album while a member of Fleetwood Mac and encouraging others to match her feat.
“I know there is somebody out there who will be able to do it,” she said, promising to talk often of how she built her solo career. “What I am doing is opening up the door for other women.”
During her four-song set, Nicks brought onstage a cape she bought in 1983 to prove to her “very frugal” late mother that it was still in good shape and worth its $3,000 price tag. Don Henley joined her to sing “Leather and Lace,” while Harry Styles filled in for the late Tom Petty on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
David Byrne inducted Radiohead, noting he was flattered the band named itself after one of his songs. He said their 2000 album Kid A was the one that really hooked him, and he was impressed that Radiohead could be experimental in both their music and how they conduct their business.
“They’re creative and smart in both areas, which was kind of a rare combination for artists, not just now but anytime,” he said.
Radiohead drummer Philip Selway and guitarist Ed O’Brien were only bandmembers on hand to accept, so the group didn’t perform; there was a question as to whether any of them would show up given their past ambivalence about the hall.
But both spoke highly of the honor.
“This is such a beautifully surreal evening for us,” said O’Brien. “It’s a big fucking deal and it feels like it. … I wish the others could be here because they would be feeling it.”
The Cure’s Smith has been a constant in a band of shifting personnel, and he stood onstage for induction Friday with 11 past and current members. Despite their goth look, the band has a legacy of pop hits and performed three of them, “Lovesong,” ”Just Like Heaven” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” along with “Shake Dog Shake” and “A Forest.”
Visibly nervous, Smith called his induction a “very nice surprise” and shyly acknowledged the crowd’s cheers.
“It’s been a fantastic thing, it really has,” he said. “We love you, too.”
His inductee, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, recalled ridiculing the rock hall in past years because he couldn’t believe The Cure wasn’t in. When he got the call that the band was in, he said, “I was never so happy eating my words as I was that day.”
Roxy Music, led by the stylish Ferry, performed a five-song set that included the songs “Love Is the Drug,” ”More Than This” and “Avalon.” (Onetime Brian Eno didn’t show for the event).
Simon LeBon and John Taylor of Duran Duran inducted them, with Taylor saying that hearing Roxy Music in concert at age 14 showed him what he wanted to do with his life.
“Without Roxy Music, there really would be no Duran Duran,” he said.
The soft-spoken Ferry thanked everyone from a succession of bass players to album cover designers. “We’d like to thank everyone for this unexpected honor,” he said.
Def Leppard sold tons of records, back when musicians used to do that, with a heavy-metal sound sheened to pop perfection on songs like “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Queen’s Brian May inducted them.
The Zombies, from rock ‘n’ roll’s original British invasion, were the veterans of the night. They made it despite being passed over several times in the past, but were gracious in their thanks to the rock hall. They performed the hits “Time of the Season,” ”Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There.”
Zombies singer Rod Argent noted that the group had been nominated in the past but the honor had eluded them: “To have finally passed the winning post this time — fantastic!”
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