CLEVELAND - One hoped-for reunion was never going to be and another simply wasn't meant to be at the raucous, chaotic and star-crossed 27th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Saturday night.
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Many of the 6,000 fans and rock VIPs who packed Public Hall had hoped that the stench of acrimony surrounding Axl Rose's refusal to be inducted with his original Guns N' Roses band mates would be scoured by a rare re-grouping of the Rod Stewart-led Faces.
But Stewart, who missed his 1994 induction as a solo artist due to an earthquake in Los Angeles, canceled this appearance due to illness (as did Beastie Boy Adam "MCA'' Yauch.)
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Ably subbing for him with the Brit garage band was Simply Red vocalist Mick Hucknall, who joined surviving Small Faces/Faces alums Kenny Jones, Ron Wood and Ian McLagan (Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane are deceased) in ragged and rollicking versions of All or Nothing,Ooh La La and Stay With Me. The guitar runs from Wood (now a two-time inductee via his role with the Rolling Stones)on the last song elicited a mass eruption of dancing and frenzy from the crowd.
And later in the five-and-a-half-hour ceremony the audience was treated to a Guns performance from five members from various eras. With Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge subbing for Rose on vocals (also missing were core members Izzy Stradlin and Dizzy Reed), the Slash-led band tore through early classics Mr. Brownstone, Sweet Child of Mine and Paradise City.
Also inducted at the annual bash - now held every three years near the Rock Hall site in Cleveland, alternating with New York - were the late blues guitarist Freddie King, singer/songwriters Donovan and the late Laura Nyro, funk rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and rappers Beastie Boys; backing groups the Blue Caps, the Comets, the Crickets, the Famous Flames, the Miracles and the Midnighters; and non-performers Cosimo Matassa, Glyn Johns, and the late Tom Dowd and Don Kirshner.
The marathon show - to be shown on HBO on May 5-6 - was packed with musical highlights and bad-boy attitude from the very start as Green Day opened the night with Letterbomb and lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong dropped numerous expletives in front of the ecstatic crowd.
Following their induction of the late Texas guitarist King, Z.Z. Top's Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons joined Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks and blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa for blistering versions of Hideaway and Goin' Down.
Donovan, whose acceptance speech incorporated a poem - "always a poet, a shaman am I ... I thank the goddesses, I thank the muses'' - joined his presenter John Mellencamp for a searing and psychedelic Season of the Witch.
Not all of the highlights were musical: During Bette Midler's tribute to Nyro she choked up as she described her friend as "mother earth, a role that suited her down to the ground." Susan Bareilles then followed with a joyous, gospel-tinged version of Stoney End. And Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea also choked up during his acceptance speech as he thanked his mom and former bandmate John Frusciante, who did not attend.
With the Beastie Boys hip-hop trio missing a member, Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz watched as The Roots with Kid Rock, Black Thought and Travie McCoy rapped through a three-song medley highlighted by Sabotage.
Closing the inducting portion were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were introduced via a typically hilarious, profane speech by comedian Chris Rock who riffed on where the band wears their socks. Rock also referenced Axl Rose's absence as the clock neared 1 a.m., saying "Even if he was coming tonight, he wouldn't have been here by now."
The Peppers, led by Flea, took the stage for three hits, highlighted by a gentle By the Way, then remained to lead the traditional jam with many of the evening's performers on Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground.
By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY