Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomes Hall & Oates

Posted: April 12, 2014

NEW YORK - It was a big night in Brooklyn on Thursday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as Philadelphia pop-soul duo Hall & Oates joined Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, cartoon hard-rockers Kiss, and others in entering the Cleveland-based Hall as its 2014 class.

Other inductees included '70s and '80s prog-rocker Peter Gabriel, singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, and country-rock hit maker Linda Ronstadt. She suffers from Parkinson's disease and did not attend the show but was paid tribute to in song by Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, and Carrie Underwood.

Two managers also went into the Hall: the Beatles' Brian Epstein, who died in 1967, and the Rolling Stones' Andrew Loog Oldham, who stayed away. He had protested the ceremony as no longer "the raunchy, no-holds-barred party at the Waldorf Astoria it once was." (The show will air in edited form on HBO May 31.)

Opening the show, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner celebrated Daryl Hall and John Oates as "a duo who found the sweet spot between pop and soul and had 29 top 40 hits." Tonight Show bandleader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the drummer for Philadelphia hip-hop band the Roots, inducted the duo wearing a black T-shirt shirt emblazoned with the partners' names.

"Hall & Oates have the kind of success that's easy to take for granted," Thompson said backstage before his speech. "One of the hardest things to do is write a simple three-minute pop song. That can be harder to write than a long, complicated piece of music, like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or Miles Davis ' Bitches Brew." In his speech, Thompson said "there's not a single person here who didn't sing along to the radio to their songs. . . . So for one night, let's make it the Rock and Roll Hall & Oates of Fame."

When the duo took the stage, Oates said, "I think I was born at the right time. It was great time to be in Philadelphia in the 1960s. The Uptown Theater, the Second Fret, the Philadelphia Folk Festival. It was a hotbed."

Hall added: "I did some research, and we're the only homegrown Philadelphia band that has ever gone into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." He then went on to name-check a long list of deserving Philly acts, including the Stylistics, the Delfonics, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Chubby Checker.

In inducting the E Streeters, Springsteen said that "the hallmark of a great rock and roll band is that the narrative you tell together is bigger than the one you could tell on your own." He spoke with regret of his decision to go into the Rock Hall in 1999 as a solo artist. At the time, his guitarist and friend Steve Van Zandt said, "Yeah, yeah, I understand. But Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: That's the legend."

ddeluca@phillynews.com

More on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at DeLuca's blog:

www.inquirer.com/inthemix

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