WATCH: Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez and others inducted into Rock Hall of Fame

2017-04-08 10:00
tupac shakur

New York - Folk legend Joan Baez called for a new era of activism and slain rapper Tupac Shakur was hailed as a nuanced hero Friday as they entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Grunge icons Pearl Jam, progressive rock leaders Yes, the experimental Electric Light Orchestra and arena packers Journey also were inducted into the rock shrine at the gala in New York.

Tupac, who was killed in 1996 at age 25 in a still murky Las Vegas shooting, was introduced by his contemporary Snoop Dogg, a fellow force in creating gangsta rap in California.

Watch a part of Snoop Dogg's performance here:

"You're gonna live forever. They can't take this away from you, homey," Snoop Dogg said as he hoisted the Hall of Fame trophy toward the sky.

Alicia Keys on piano led a medley of songs by Tupac - who was born in New York but strongly associated with the West Coast  - before the packed Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Watch Alicia Key's performing Tupac's hit, Changes, here:

Snoop Dogg called Tupac "the greatest rapper of all time" and described themselves as "two black boys struggling to become men."

Portraying Tupac as more complicated than caricatures, Snoop Dogg said: "To be human is to be many things at once - strong and vulnerable, hard-headed and intellectual, courageous and afraid, loving and vengeful, revolutionary and, oh yeah... gangsta!"

Here's a look at all the new inductees:

Activism in era of Trump

One of the leading protest singers in the 1960s, the 76-year-old Baez acknowledged that many young people - even her own granddaughter -  did not remember her music.

But she said she was proud to have devoted her life to speaking "truth to power," from campaigning against the Vietnam War to fighting for civil rights in the United States.

"Now in the new political cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there is much work to be done, where empathy is failing and sharing has been usurped by greed and lust for power," she said, urging the crowd to "double, triple and quadruple" attempts at empathy.

"Let us build a bridge, a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor," Baez said, juxtaposing lines from President Donald Trump and the immigrant-welcoming poem on the Statue of Liberty.

Taking up her guitar, Baez sang Deportees, folk great Woody Guthrie's ode to Mexican laborers, with Americana artists the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter backing her up.

The concert opened with a tribute to rock 'n' roll father Chuck Berry, who died last month at age 90 and was inducted at the now Cleveland-based Hall of Fame's inauguration in 1986.

Electric Light Orchestra, known for its marriage of rock and classical, started the gala with a cover of Berry's Roll Over Beethoven led by strings before going into the band's most recognizable hit, Evil Woman.

Moments of humour

Introducing Electric Light Orchestra was Dhani Harrison, the son of late Beatle George Harrison, who described the band's leader Jeff Lynne as among his father's closest friends.

Harrison said that the Electric Light Orchestra was the first concert he attended as a child and it felt "more like witnessing a 21st-century exterrestrial spaceman wielding bizarre instruments."

Lynne in his remarks thanked his father for showing him a "great big sewer pipe" at age seven, saying the echo gave him an early lesson in harmony.

Even more unlikely remarks came from Rick Wakeman, the keyboardist from Yes, which in its heyday in the 1970s was rarely described as light-hearted.

Wakeman turned into a stand-up comic with a series of off-color jokes. The Englishman said he was happy to be inducted in Brooklyn as the arena was half a mile (less than a kilometer) from the spot of his first sexual experience.

"It wasn't good. It never is when you're on your own," Wakeman said to roaring laughter.

Yes, whose progressive rock is marked by long-flowing keyboard passages and ruminations on spirituality, was inducted by members of Rush who said that the honor was overdue.

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