BROOKLYN, N.Y. (USATODAY.com) — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of its most controversial inductees Kissed and made up, sort of, at the 29th annual induction ceremonies Thursday night.
The original four Kiss members —— Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss— who had been eligible for induction for nearly 15 years before the hall finally opened its arms, accepted their honor from guitarist Tom Morello, then laid down a populist manifesto.
"Kiss was never a critics' band. Kiss was a people's band,'' Morello said, a sentiment echoed by the four musicians — dressed in suits and tuxes and sans their trademark makeup — as they embraced and made their remarks at the Barclays Center.
Simmons described his bandmates as "four knuckleheads who got together" and pointedly mentioned other members from the group's 40-year history who were not inducted by the hall.
Ex-drummer Criss, referring to no longer being allowed to don his costume, said, "In or out of makeup, I'll always be the Catman. You've got to forgive to live."
"This is vindication," said co-founder Stanley. "People want and deserve more. They want to be part of the nominations and the inductions. They don't want to be spoon-fed the choices. The people buy albums. The people buy tickets. The people who nominate do not.''
Then, without playing a note, they were off, as clips played of Cat Stevens, the next inductee.
Earlier, Peter Gabriel, inducted for the second time (he was welcomed in 2010 as a member of Genesis), kicked off the performances with Digging in the Dirt.
Coldplay's Chris Martin, who joined him on Washing of the Water, did the honors, with a funny riff on the Book of Genesis, quoting "Phil the Collins."
"And lo, the angel Gabriel ascended up Solsbury Hill to the Hall of Fame," Martin said.
Bruce Springsteen ushered in his E Street Band, leading them in a gritty take on The River and a long, blazing blast from their past, Kitty's Back.
Inductees Daryl Hall & John Oates, though plagued by sound problems, rebounded for punchy, funky versions of She's Gone and You Make My Dreams.
Other highlights included a spectacular selection of inductee Linda Ronstadt's hits (she did not attend) by Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crowand Stevie Nicks, who blended voices on When Will I Be Loved and It's So Easy.
R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe inducted Nirvana, saying of its late leader: "That voice, that voice ... Kurt (Cobain), we miss you.'' Bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted their statuettes with Grohl acknowledging the four drummers who came before him. Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, accepted on his behalf. "I just want to give this to Frances, our daughter, who's not here tonight because she's ill," Love said.
A parade of edgy female vocalists joined Novoselic, Grohl and Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear for Smells Like Teen Spirit (Joan Jett), Aneurysm (Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth), Lithium (St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark) and All Apologies (Lorde).
The show airs May 31 on HBO.