Duran Duran stumbles, Pat Benatar roars in Rock Hall

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Duran Duran has fallen into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Fresh from being inducted into the Hall by Robert Downey Jr. at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night, the English stalwarts of the 1980s took to the stage and launched into their 1981 hit “Girls on Film.”

The screaming crowd was there for that, but not the music. The band was virtually inaudible except for singer Simon Le Bon, whose voice was mostly acapella.

It was a fun but inauspicious start to a rather slick and often triumphant show that also saw the inductions of Pat Benatar, Carly Simon and Judas Priest, with Eminem, Dolly Parton and Eurythmics yet to come.

“The wondrous spontaneous world of rock ‘n’ roll!” shouted Le Bon, 64, as the band pulled over for a revamp. “We just had to prove to you that we weren’t lip-synching.”

They returned at full volume, playing a set that included “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Ordinary World”, quickly returning to what Downey called their essential quality: “CSF – cool, sophisticated fun”.

In a room full of Duran Duran stans, Le Bon and his bandmates John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes provided what the singer said in his acceptance speech was the essence of their work over the course of 40 years: “We manage to make people feel better about themselves.”

Missing was original guitarist Andy Taylor, who has been battling advanced prostate cancer for four years.

“I am truly sorry and extremely disappointed that I was unable to come,” Taylor said in a letter read by Le Bon. “I’m sure I’m glad to be here to see the light of day.”

Eighties hitmakers defined the night, with Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie and Eurythmics accepting their places in the Hall along with Eminem and Carly Simon.

“Pat always reached to the deepest part of herself and came out roaring from the speakers,” Sheryl Crowe said in her Benatar induction speech. “She shook as hard as any man but still kept her identity as a woman.”

Benatar took the stage and showed off that power moments later.

“We are young!” the 69-year-old sang, her long gray hair billowing as she soared through a version of 1983’s ‘Love is a Battlefield’ with so much improvisation that most viewers didn’t recognize it until halfway through of the first verse.

“He’s the one who started it!” she said, launching the next song, 1979’s “Heartbreaker,” as most of the audience stood and sang. It included a searing solo from Neil Giraldo, Benatar’s longtime musical partner, husband, co-grandparent and now Hall member.

Carly Simon was also a notable absence among the inductees, with the ceremony taking place two weeks after she lost her sisters Joanna Simon and Lucy Simon, both also singers, to cancer on two consecutive days.

Carly Simon was nominated for the first time this year more than 25 years after becoming eligible. Presenter Sara Bareilles praised the legendary singer-songwriter’s ‘fierce intelligence and soulful vulnerability’ before singing a version of her James Bond theme ‘Nobody Does It Better’ for her. Olivia Rodrigo, Simon’s 60-year-old junior and by far the night’s youngest performer, then took to the stage to sing her signature song, “You’re So Vain.”

Harry Belafonte, 95, was another missing music giant. He did not make an appearance for his induction.

In a few cases, the presenters were better known than those they had inducted.

Janet Jackson appeared in a black suit with a huge pile of hair on her head, redoing the cover of her breakthrough album ‘Control’, as she inducted the two men who made this and many more records with her, writer-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

The crowd greeted Bruce Springsteen with shouts of “Bruuuce!” as he inducted Jimmy Iovine, founder of Interscope records and engineer of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” album.

Judas Priest showed they could still bump their heads gray by lighting up the room with hits like “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight.”

“They defined the sound we call heavy metal,” said Alice Cooper, inducting the band.

Vocalist Rob Halford praised the heavy metal community for being “all inclusive”.

“Hello, I’m the gay guy in the band,” said Halford, who led the way when he came out in 1998, to open his acceptance speech.

He closed it by stating, “We live for heavy metal, we live for music, and we live for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”


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