The 2013 Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony kicked off with Randy Newman sitting by himself at a piano, singing the first few verses of his hit “I Love L.A.” It was an appropriate choice, as the ceremony was being held in Los Angeles for the first time in twenty years.
Newman’s performance shortly got exponentially more rocking when after a few lines the spotlights on the stage revealed a potent guitar team of Hall Of Famers– Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and John Fogerty.
Don Henley then appeared on stage to present Newman, saying the induction is “shamefully overdue,” and that Newman “has been making extraordinary music for five decades.” He said that Newman’s music is always dark, but also has compassion for the human condition. “No one has written better about greed and shame and the family dynamic,” noting that he wasn’t just “the guy who wrote about short people and that ‘I Love L.A.’ thing!” Henley noted that both are “fine satirical songs, but he is so much more than that.”
Henley joked that Newman is a “hell of an artist.”
“I saw him last year in Texas. 2000 people were on their feet as he played ‘Rednecks,’” Henley said, before noting that that’s no easy feat in a state that elected Rick Perry as their Governor. On a more serious note, he said that Newman’s music represented “America in all its sham and all its glory.”
Newman joked that he thought he would have to die before being inducted, and thanked Henley: “I just saw his [Eagles] documentary. He’s very successful apparently!”
The inductee added, “I always wanted to be respected by musicians, and I have that. It means a great deal to me. This night means a great deal to me, Don’s speech means a great deal to me. It’s hard for me to express a genuine emotion – as you can tell by my writing – but this means a lot to me.”
Newman then returned to the piano to perform “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today.” After that, he noted that there are a lot of “grey and thick” artists on the road these days. A nod to an audience that certainly contained many who could fit that description. And with that, he invited Henley back on stage to perform “I’m Dead But I Don’t Know It.”
Newman and Henley had fun with the song, singing the line “I’m dead, but I don’t know it,” while the band chimed in, “He’s dead! He’s dead!” It was an appropriately edgy close to his segment of the show.
Catch more from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony when it airs Saturday May 18 at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.
Watch our recent Radio.com Inside Out episode on 2013’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction class, below.