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Rare Performances :: Blog

Rare Performances: Neil Young Live in 1995

Wednesday, June 27: 2:14 p.m.
Neil Young performed "Act of Love" and "F*!#in' Up" at the 1995 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

On January 12, 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 10th annual induction ceremony in New York City. Among the inductees that year, along with Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and others, was Neil Young, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Pearl Jam lead singer, Eddie Vedder. Young’s performances that night included the epic “Act of Love” from his album Mirror Ball, which would be released in June 1995. After performing “Act of Love” with members of his touring band, Young was joined onstage by Pearl Jam to perform "F*!#in' Up,” from his 1990 album Ragged Glory. It was especially fitting that Young, who has been called “the Godfather of Grunge,” would invite the Seattle band to perform with him at his induction.

Pearl Jam and Neil Young had been collaborating since 1992, when the grunge band  and “the Godfather” played separately at a Bob Dylan tribute at Madison Square Garden. Pearl Jam was invited to play at Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit concert in November of that year. Pearl Jam had long been Neil Young fans, frequently using Young’s “Rockin In the Free World” to close ...


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Rare Performances: Johnny Cash Live in 1992

Thursday, July 5: 3 p.m.
Johnny Cash led an all-star performance of "Big River" at the 1992 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Late Show with David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer, moonlighting in his annual turn helming the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony band, calls out the tune: ”This is a song called ‘Big River,’ and it’s in E!” It’s the 1992 induction ceremony, and one of that year’s inductees, Johnny Cash, recorded “Big River” for the Sun label in 1958. The band for which Paul Shaffer called the tune is remarkable in its sheer star power –some fellow 1992 inductees back up Cash, including Booker T. and Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Ronald and Marvin Isley of the Isley Brothers and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave. Past and future inductees also round out the band, including John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (inducted in 1993), Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (1989), the Edge of U2 (2005), Little Richard (1986), Carlos Santana (1998) and Isaac Hayes (2002). Edgar Winter backs Cash on sax and Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers makes an appearance on vocals and percussion. Even with so many stars, Johnny Cash and his song outshine the pantheon onstage. “Big River” was the B-side of a ...


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Rare Performances: Chuck Berry Live in 1994

Tuesday, July 31: 10 a.m.
Chuck Berry honored Willie Dixon in 1994 and performed "Roll Over Beethoven"

At the 1994 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Chuck Berry paid tribute to his Chess Records label mate and frequent collaborator Willie Dixon with a moving induction speech and stirring performance of “Roll Over Beethoven.” Dixon contributed his robust and propulsive bass playing to numerous Berry hits, including “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” Berry’s performance that evening reflects the sheer joy that he brings to every performance. Berry’s generosity as a performer is also evident, as he leaves plenty of room for members of Paul Shaffer’s Induction Ceremony house band the opportunity to shine, along with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and Blues Traveler’s John Popper. The Rock and Roll Hall Fame and Museum is delighted to honor Chuck Berry as this year’s American Music Masters honoree.

WATCH: Chuck Berry performs "Roll Over Beethoven" live


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Rare Performances: the Velvet Underground Live in 1996

Wednesday, July 18: 1:17 p.m.
The Velvet Underground performed a song dedicated to band member Sterling Morrison in 1996.

“No, I didn't attend his funeral. I dedicated a song to him from the stage of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I wanted his name to be heard on TV and to the crowds watching the show. I wanted to play "Sweet Jane" for him one last time.” – Lou Reed, quoted in The Austin Chronicle, 2000

On September 2, 1995, Lou Reed performed “Sweet Jane” onstage at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in front of a crowd of more than 63,000 and millions more around the world watching the concert broadcast on HBO. The occasion was the Concert for the Hall of Fame, celebrating the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Reed’s fellow guitarist and Velvet Underground bandmate, Sterling Morrison, had passed away from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma just three days before. Reed’s performance, dedicated to Morrison, gently reminded the world of Velvet Underground’s impact, and Morrison’s unique contributions to the band. The surviving members of the Velvets would pay tribute to Morrison once more upon their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on January 17, 1996, with a poignant performance of a song especially written for ...


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Rare Performances: Pink Floyd and Billy Corgan Live in 1996

Saturday, August 11: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Gilmour performs Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" live with Richard Wright and Billy Corgan

In the fall of 1995, Smashing Pumpkins, the Chicago-based alternative band who cracked the Billboard 200 Top 10 in August 1993 with Siamese Dream, released the anticipated studio follow up, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The sprawling 26-song double album Corgan then referred to as The Wall for Generation X highlighted the lead songwriter's penchant for abstract lyricism and expansive, evocative instrumental arrangements that owed much to the psychedelic rockers who came decades before him.

At the 1996 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a twentysomething Corgan inducted Pink Floyd, with David Gilmour, Nick Mason and the late Richard Wright on hand to accept their awards. "The first album I heard was Dark Side of the Moon, which as we all know is probably one of the best albums of all time," said Corgan, a self-professed "fan" of the band. "I first heard this album in The Wall era, which to me, at my tender age of 14, was too creepy, too intense, too nihilistic – of course, these are all the things I believe in now." 

Hunched over, arms and elbows leaning against the podium to meet the microphone, Corgan spoke candidly about the personal connection he had ...


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Rare Performances: Talking Heads Live in 2002

Wednesday, August 29: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Byrne performs "Psycho Killer" with his Talking Heads bandmates in 2002

"Boy, am I honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the Talking Heads," noted 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis after taking the podium to induct the Talking Heads into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I remember the exact place that I was, the exact moment that it happened, that I heard the Talking Heads for the first time," recalled Kiedis. "That's an incredible indication of what a beautiful influence they would have on my life, because there's not too many things I could say that about. I was in the living room of Donde Bastone, I was 15, it was 1977, and the song that he put on was 'Psycho Killer,' and I absolutely freaked out. I made him play that song over and over and over again because it was like nothing else I'd ever heard, and it made me feel like nothing else I'd ever felt.

"Some very strange things happened to me when I heard the Talking Heads," continued Kiedis, explaining how the Talking Heads made him feel smart and want to dance. He remarked ...


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Rare Performances: Chuck Berry's 1986 Hall of Fame Induction Jam Session

Monday, October 22: 3 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Chuck Berry led an all-star live jam session when he was inducted into the RRHOF in 1986

“To me, Chuck Berry always was the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock and roll playing. It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection. He is rhythm supreme.” – Keith Richards

The very first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony got under way on January 23, 1986, in New York City, with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ripping off his tuxedo jacket, revealing a flashy leopard-print jacket underneath, in true rock and roll style. That inaugural evening, Richards – Chuck Berry’s biggest fan – inducted his long-time idol, noting, “…this is the gentleman who started it all!” The ceremony itself was a melting pot of all that created rock and roll – country, gospel, the blues, rockabilly and rhythm & blues – with several of the initial inductees on stage, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who stood beside Lewis’ piano bopping and clapping his hands, and Chuck Berry.

With a who's who of rock and roll pioneers on the same stage as contemporary legends and Berry acting as bandleader, encouraging his progenies, all-star jams ensued. Inductees Keith Richards (1989), John Fogerty (1993), Neil Young (1995), Billy Joel (1999) and Steve Winwood (2004) make ...


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Rare Performances: Simon and Garfunkel Live in 1990

Monday, November 12: 10 a.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Simon and Garfunkel performed "The Boxer" live at the 1990 Hall of Fame Inductions

In 1990, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were inducted as Simon and Garfunkel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by James Taylor. During their acceptance, Garfunkel noted, "And I want to thank, most of all, the person who has most enriched my life by putting these great songs through me, my friend Paul here." Simon was quick to remark, "Arthur and I agree about almost nothing, but it's true, I have enriched his life quite a bit, now that I think about it."

At the ceremony, they performed “The Boxer,” a song penned by Paul Simon in 1968. The song was released as a follow-up single to their Number One hit, “Mrs. Robinson,” and reached Number Seven on the U.S. charts. The b-side of the single was “Baby Driver,” and the song appeared on their last studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water.  

Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water albumThe lyrics focus on a person struggling to overcome loneliness and poverty in New York City. It is written in the first-person until the final verse, where it switches to a third-person idea of a boxer, who, despite the effects of “every glove that laid him down or cut him till he cried ...


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