NEW YORK — Nirvana, who set music and fashion trends with their grunge sound but whose career was cut short by leader Kurt Cobain’s suicide 20 years ago, led inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Kiss entered the Hall thumbing its nose at critics, Hall & Oates called for more Philadelphia bands to join them, Peter Gabriel urged young musicians to use their imaginations, Cat Stevens was visibly touched, Linda Ronstadt was honored in her absence, and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band turned their induction into a marathon.
Nirvana was inducted in its first year of eligibility. The trio’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit like a thunderclap upon its 1991 release, briefly making the Pacific Northwest rock’s hottest scene. Joan Jett replaced Cobain onstage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, singing the song with Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.
“Nirvana fans walk up to me every day and say thank you for the music,” said Novoselic, the band’s bass player. “When I hear that, I think of Kurt Cobain.”
Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, hugged the two surviving band members, with whom she’s had some bad blood.
The original four members of Kiss didn’t perform at Barclays due to a dispute between active original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and retired members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. But the original four made peace and saluted each other in heartfelt speeches.
Ronstadt, the sexy siren of the Los Angeles country-rock scene of the 1970s, couldn’t make it to her induction. Now retired, she suffers from Parkinson’s disease and doesn’t travel much.
Ronstadt was saluted by some royalty of female country rock. Carrie Underwood sang “Different Drum,” Ronstadt’s first hit with the Stone Poneys. Underwood was joined by Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt for “Blue Bayou.” Sheryl Crow and Glenn Frey made it a quintet to sing “You’re No Good.” Then Stevie Nicks came out to lead them in “It’s So Easy” and “When Will I Be Loved.”
Stevens, the 1970s era singer of “Morning Has Broken” and “Wild World,” was inducted by Art Garfunkel.
Springsteen’s 1999 entrance into the Rock Hall without the E Street Band was a sore point for some of its members. Thursday they got their due in the sidemen category, although it was a posthumous honor for saxman Clarence Clemons and keyboard player Danny Federici.
Daryl Hall and John Oates sang “She’s Gone,” “I Can’t Go For That” and “You Make My Dreams Come True.”
Gabriel was inducted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who later sang with him on “Washing of the Water.”