Parton embraces her inner rock star, Mellencamp declares “f*** antisemitism,” and Eminem teaches hip-hop history at the diverse Rock Hall ceremony.
Just over a month after it was announced that Dolly Parton was among the 17 nominees on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 ballot, the 76-year-old country legend made the shocking and unprecedented announcement that she was “respectfully” withdrawing from nominations — because she didn’t feel “worthy” of the honour.
However, because two-thirds of Hall voters’ ballots had already been mailed out, she remained in the running — and while Parton’s objection to her eligibility seemed to stem from her concern that she wasn’t “rock ‘n’ roll” enough, many of those voters disagreed.
Parton was voted into the Hall anyway, so she wanted to make sure she truly qualified by announcing plans for a rock album and even debuting a new rock song at Saturday’s induction ceremony.
“I’m sure a lot of you know that when they said they were going to put me in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I didn’t really feel like I had done enough to deserve that and I didn’t understand it at the time,” Parton told the audience (shortly after Pink, who praised Parton’s “sheer genius”).
“When I first heard about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I assumed it was only for rock ‘n’ roll people.
And I thought, ‘Well, if I’m going to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I’m going to have to do a rock album — because my 56-year-old husband is a huge rock fan… and he’s always said, ‘You should do a rock album.’
And I considered it several times, but timing is everything.
And then it all came up…
“I thought, ‘Well, since I’m going to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’m going to write a song for tonight’ — which I’ll sing in a minute.”
Parton excused herself from her sequined minidress, almost leaving her trophy at the podium, and joked, “See what this means to me?”
I almost forgot about it!”
When she returned to the stage, she was dressed like Rob Halford of fellow Class of 2022 inductees Judas Priest, and she looked like she’d borrowed an outfit from him.
“I’m a rock star now!” she exclaimed, dressed to the nines in a figure-hugging, bellbottomed, black patent leather catsuit dripping with metal chains.
“I figure if I’m going to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I should earn it,” she said.
Parton performed her new rock single, simply and aptly titled “Rockin’,” accompanied by Kent Wells (who Parton said will produce her rock record) and the Zac Brown Band, which shouted out many of the rock ‘n’ roll architects who entered the Hall via the inaugural Class of ’86.
“I grew up listening to Elvis and wild-man Jerry Lee/Chuck Berry, Little Richard/They all cast a spell on me/Carl Perkins and those blue suede shoes had no place on the farm…”
“I was just a kid, but I went crazy for the rhythm and the beat,” she sang.
“I’ve been rockin’, rockin’, rockin’ since the day I was born/I’ll keep rockin’ till the day I die/I’ve still got rock ‘n’ roll down in my country soul/And I’ll keep rockin’ till the cows come home.”
“And you thought I couldn’t rock!” she remarked, punctuating her statement with a windmill strum across her electric guitar a la Pete Townshend.
Pink and Brandi Carlile dueted on “Coat of Many Colors” as part of Parton’s Rock Hall tribute, which concluded Saturday’s ceremony, and Sheryl Crow and Brown sang “9 to 5.”
The epic closer, however, was a group rendition of “Jolene,” which has been covered by the White Stripes, Miley Cyrus, and even post-punk/gothic bands the Sisters of Mercy and Strawberry Switchblade.
Brown, Carlile, Crow, and fellow 2022 inductees Eurythmics (with Annie Lennox in a red cowboy hat), Pat Benatar, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, and Halford all performed.
(Halford appeared especially happy to share the stage with Parton, cuddling up to the country legend and beaming.)
“That was entertaining!”
Parton gushed enthusiastically, hardly befitting an artist who had just announced her retirement from touring.
“We have a star-studded stage!”
“In the city, I feel like a hillbilly,” Parton chuckled.
Earlier in her acceptance speech, she asked the A-list crowd, “Are any of you rock stars going to help me out on [my rock album]?”
Good, because I’m going to hold you to it!”
Everyone who was on stage with her on Saturday would undoubtedly be eager to volunteer their services.
Other surprise guests included Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Ed Sheeran, who joined Class of 2022 inductee Eminem on the “Dream On”-interpolating “Sing for the Moment” and “Stan,” respectively; Sara Bareilles singing “Nobody Does It Better” and Olivia Rodrigo performing “You’re So Vain” to honour inductee Carly Simon, who skipped the event due to the recent deaths of her two sisters; and Dave Grohl,
While many of the speeches, including Parton’s, were lighthearted and entertaining, there were some more serious moments on the podium.
Duran Duran announced that their original guitarist, Andy Taylor, would be unable to attend the ceremony due to his battle with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.
Later in his speech, Richie became slightly political, recalling instances in his career when people in the industry told him he “wasn’t Black enough” and declaring, “Rock ‘n’ roll is not a colour.”
It’s an emotion.
It’s a feeling.”
When Mellencamp presented the Hall’s industry-focused Ahmet Ertegun Award to high-powered entertainment attorney Allen Grubman, he mentioned that Grubman is Jewish and said, “I’m a gentile whose life has been enriched by countless Jewish people.”
Guys, I can’t tell you how f***ing important it is to speak out against antisemitism, bigotry, and hatred if you’re an artist.
We’re all human beings when we hear hate speech or say something derogatory about someone else.
I don’t care if you’re Jewish, Black, White, or a mix of the three.
I don’t mind.
Here’s the catch: silence equals complicity.
Can I repeat that?
Silence constitutes complicity.
I’d like to state unequivocally that I’m standing here tonight in solidarity with Allen, his family, all of my Jewish friends, and the entire Jewish people of the world.
“F*** antisemitism, and f*** anyone who says anything along those lines.”
On a lighter note, perhaps the night’s funniest one-liner was when Priest’s Halford introduced himself with “Hello, I’m the gay guy in the band,” or when Robert Downey Jr., who surprisingly inducted Duran Duran, recalled a “surreal moment” at his 50th birthday party when Duran Duran “played a short set and I shit you not, halfway through ‘Rio,’ a prominent Hollywood director’s
After mentioning his near-fatal 2007 overdose and instructing his daughter Hailie in the audience to “plug your ears” as he admitted, “Drugs were f***ing delicious,” Eminem proceeded to spend at least three solid, breathless minutes rattling off a long, alphabetical list of rap artists who inspired him, from 2 Live Crew and 3rd Bass to the Wu-Tang Clan.
“I know this induction is supposed to be me, like, talking about myself and shit,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”
I’m a high school dropout with a hip-hop education, and these are my teachers, and it’s their night as much as mine.”
(In a related but far less humble moment, Dr. Dre, who inducted Eminem, claimed that Eminem had requested that Dre mention Eminem’s “huge penis.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2022 included Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (inducted by Sheryl Crow), Duran Duran, Eminem, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie (inducted by Lenny Kravitz), Carly Simon (inducted by Sara Bareilles), and Eurythmics, who were inducted by U2’s the Edge and gave the night’s most fiery performance with “Would I Lie to You,”
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (inducted by Janet Jackson) and Judas Priest received the Musical Excellence Award (inducted by Alice Cooper).
In addition to Grubman, Sylvia Robinson and Jimmy Iovine received the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which was presented by Bruce Springsteen.
Harry Belafonte and Elizabeth Cotten received the Early Influence Award.
The 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony was held Nov. 5 at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater, marking the first time the event had been held in the city since 2011.
The show will premiere on HBO on November 19.