Genre-bending acts Radiohead and The Cure led a British invasion into Brooklyn Friday night to take their spots in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, while pop icon Janet Jackson entered the shrine in an induction many industry insiders consider long overdue.
American folk-rock legend Stevie Nicks became the first woman inducted twice – having already earned a spot in the rock pantheon as a member of band Fleetwood Mac – during a gala concert at New York’s Barclays Center in Brooklyn to celebrate the seven 2019 honorees.
Heavy metal group Def Leppard, pop experimentalists Roxy Music and English psychedelic rock harmonists The Zombies rounded out the five-strong class of British inductees.
The inclusion of Jackson – whose socially conscious, sexually provocative and eminently danceable tracks made her a household name in the 1980s – comes as the Hall of Fame increasingly expands its definition of rock to include the likes of R&B.
She joins The Jackson 5 and her brother Michael in the Cleveland-based rock shrine, which has refused to remove the late pop king from its honoured artist list despite pressure over a documentary reviving paedophilia accusations against him.
Jackson declined to perform at the event, an unusual move some US reports owed to the fact that it would be broadcast on HBO, the network which aired the documentary about her brother, “Surviving Neverland.”
Citing Jackson’s “legendary black girl magic,” pop futurist Janelle Monae inducted the 52-year-old superstar who spearheaded the creation of New Jack Swing.
Her synth-driven sound came to define the cutting edge of New York’s club scene in the late 1980s.
Jackson steered clear of Michael discussions but noted her family’s “extraordinary impact on popular culture,” saying that as the youngest she “was determined to make it on my own.”
“Tonight your baby sister has made it,” she said, telling the Hall: “2020, induct more women!”
British sensation Harry Styles inducted Stevie Nicks – whose poetic vocals and bewitching stage presence have made her an intergenerational rock legend.
She opened the show with a performance of “Stand Back,” wearing her original shawl from the video and twirling to show off its shimmering gold fringe.
Speaking to journalists backstage, Nicks, 70, voiced hope that as the first woman twice inducted she was “opening up the door for other women, to go like, ‘Hey man, I can do it.'”
‘Play some music’
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke skipped the ceremony, saying he was busy preparing a classical piece to debut at the Paris Philharmonic.
The lyricist of the visionary art rock band recently told Variety the group was “blase” about such honours, and like Jackson, Radiohead opted not to perform.
Radiohead soared to fame in the 1990s thanks to their haunting power ballad “Creep,” going on to enjoy a cocktail of international commercial success, critical love and adoration from indie purists.
Members Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway accepted the award on behalf of the atmospheric group chosen in their second year of eligibility
Acts can be inducted 25 years after their first commercial music release.
The Cure – known for enduring New Wave hits including “Lovesong” – has had a number of lineup swaps over its more than 40 years in the business, but always included frontman Robert Smith.
The 59-year-old known for his wailing voice and deathly complexion appeared with his signature shock of black hair and racoon eyeliner.
Smith ran through a laundry list of thanks before picking up his guitar for the band’s performance.
“I’d rather use the allocated time to play some music,” he said, later telling journalists he’s “not quite sure about the whole thing.”
“At the same time, there are people in it who are my heroes,” he said. “It would be really, really wrong of me to be anything other than delighted.”
“How’s that? I’m gonna run for office,” he said, a smile cracking through his messy red lipstick.
English rockers Def Leppard – who formed 42 years ago and kicked off the 1980s metal era – said it owed the award to its fans, who packed stadiums for guitar anthems like “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
Lead Singer Joe Elliott told journalists the band was “soaking up” the honour but said, “tomorrow morning, we have other mountains to climb.”
Another British act, Roxy Music – formed in 1970 in glam rock’s heyday, providing a model for the 1980s New Wave scene – saw Bryan Ferry reunite with the group.
Former member and ambient pioneer Brian Eno, however, snubbed the event due to “other commitments.”
English rockers The Zombies – the 1960s group known for lush harmonies and intricate arrangements on hits like “Time of The Season” – were all smiles for the gala, perhaps a preview of their performance at a festival this summer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.
“We play with the same passion now that we did when we were 18 years old,” said keyboardist Rod Argent.