The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place on Friday in Brooklyn, New York, and, as you might’ve guessed, Rage Against the Machine did not show up or perform.
However, guitarist Tom Morello was in attendance and, after an introduction by rapper Ice-T, took to the podium to give a fiery speech about the power of music, what the honor means to him and how fans can continue the legacy of the “Killing in the Name” outfit.
“Fans often ask, ‘Well, what can I do?'” Morello said. “Well, let’s start with these three things: One, dream big and don’t settle; two, aim for the world you really want without compromise or apology; and three, don’t wait for us.”
“Rage is not here, but you are,” he continued. “The job we set out to do is not over. Now you’re the ones that must testify.”
Another not entirely unexpected absence from the night was Kate Bush, who published a statement hours before the ceremony saying she would not be attending. The English singer-songwriter was inducted by Outkast rapper Big Boi, whose love for all things Kate Bush is well documented, and she was honored with a performance of her resurgent hit “Running Up That Hill” by St. Vincent.
While we didn’t get to see Rage or Bush play, we did get a surprise appearance by Jimmy Page. The Led Zeppelin legend took the stage to perform “Rumble,” the signature instrumental from late guitar pioneer Link Wray, who was honored with the Musical Influence Award.
Another surprise came from Elton John, who, while inducting his longtime songwriting partner and lyricist Bernie Taupin with the Musical Excellence Award, revealed that they’d recently completed a new album together. Taupin’s speech was also memorable, as he took a jab at Rolling Stone founder and former Rock Hall board member Jann Wenner over his controversial comments on Black and female artists.
Other inductees included Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott, The Spinners and the late George Michael, as well as DJ Kool Herc for Musical Influence, Chaka Khan and Al Kooper for Musical Excellence, and Don Cornelius for the industry Ahmet Ertegun Award.
Stevie Nicks and Peter Frampton performed with Crow, as did Olivia Rodrigo, while Dave Matthews gave a winding introduction to Nelson befitting of the 90-year-old’s lengthy career.
The night also included a tribute performance of The Band‘s “The Weight” in honor of the late Robbie Robertson, which featured Elton, Crow, Brittany Howard and Chris Stapleton.
Highlights from the induction ceremony will air during an ABC special on January 1.
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