Jerry Cantrell On Heart: “They’ve Influenced A Whole Generation”

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One of the coolest moments from last month’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony was seeing Seattle legends Heart get their dues, at long last. After perennial members Ann and Nancy Wilson performed with the original lineup of the band (including bassists Steve Fossen, guitarist Roger Fisher, drummer Michael DeRosier and guitarist Howard Leese), the sisters were joined by a trifecta of Seattle’s next generation of rockers — Soundgarden‘s Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready and Alice In Chains‘ Jerry Cantrell — for a face-melting version of “Barracuda.” (Read more about Heart’s induction)

While Chris Cornell got the honor of doing the presentation speech for Heart, Cantrell would have been a great choice to get on the mic as well. He has history with the group: Ann Wilson, along with Cornell and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, provided guest vocals on Alice In Chains’ 1992 Sap EP. In 2005, three years after the death of Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley, the surviving AIC members performed at a benefit concert joined by a number of guest singers, including Ann Wilson. The following year, the band performed at a Heart tribute concert put on by VH1 Classic.

The night of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, Cantrell told Radio.com that Heart has been influential to him on musical, professional and personal levels.

“They’ve influenced not only me, but a whole generation of Seattle musicians, and also musicians worldwide,” Cantrell said. “Their body of work stands the test of time, and the level that they operate on as musicians has not dropped one iota.  It’s humbling to be asked to be a part of this. They’re my friends, they’re my sisters. Just being around them, and getting to know them as people has been inspiring just on a human level. They’re one of the bands that made me want to do this. A band like Heart and musicians like Ann and Nancy show you the level that you should try to operate at.”

He was there for Heart, but there was one other classic rock act who he was excited to see inducted that night.

Rush is an amazing band,” Cantrell said. “You want to talk  about the top level of musicianship, Rush is at the top of the list.  I spend a lot of hours spent trying to learn the riffs to those songs, ‘La Villa Strangiato,’ ’2112,’ ‘Fly By Night.’ RushPermanent Waves, Moving Pictures were all really important records to me.” (Read more about Rush’s induction)

Catch more from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony when it airs Saturday May 18 at 9 p.m. on HBO, and check out more of our on-the-scene coverage of the event here.

Watch our recent Radio.com Inside Out episode on 2013’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction class, below.

Brian Ives, Radio.com

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