Kiss made up, but its music went unheard. Nirvana used four women rockers to sing Kurt Cobain's songs. And Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band — predictably — turned its honor into a marathon.
The three acts were ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday in a colorful induction ceremony at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. They were joined by the blue-eyed soul duo Hall & Oates, British rocker Peter Gabriel, 1970s folkie Cat Stevens and the absent Linda Ronstadt.
Nirvana was the emotional centerpiece. The trio rooted in the Seattle-area punk rock scene was voted into the hall in its first year of eligibility. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit like a thunderclap upon its 1991 release, but the band was done after Kurt Cobain committed suicide 20 years ago this month.
"Nirvana fans walk up to me every day and say thank you for the music," said Krist Novoselic, the band's bass player, who was inducted with drummer Dave Grohl. "When I hear that, I think of Kurt Cobain."
A subdued Courtney Love, Cobain's widow, was booed by some in the audience. She said Cobain would have appreciated the honor.
Kiss was responsible for pre-ceremony drama. The two original members still active, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, thought the replacements for ex-bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss should perform at the ceremony instead of the original four. The result was Kiss's music went unheard.
Still, the estranged band members spoke warmly of each other when the quartet appeared behind the microphone. "In and out of makeup, I'll always be the Catman," said drummer Criss, referencing his makeup in the band. "You've got to forgive to live."
Springsteen's 1999 entrance into the Rock Hall without the E Street Band was a sore point for some of its members. They got their due Thursday in the sidemen category, although it was a posthumous honor for saxman Clarence Clemons and keyboard player Danny Federici.
So the band, known for its long concerts, made up for lost time. Their induction took 85 minutes, as individual members ignored requests to keep their speeches short. Then they took the stage for performances of "The E Street Shuffle," ''The River" and an epic "Kitty's Back."
"Lucky for you, there are only two of us," Daryl Hall said when he was inducted with partner John Oates. The duo was a mainstay on the radio during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They performed some of their hits — "She's Gone," ''I Can't Go For That" and "You Make My Dreams Come True" — although hitting some of the high notes again was a struggle.
Hall said he was surprised to learn that his act was the only Philadelphia-bred band in the hall.
Ronstadt, the sexy siren of the Los Angeles country-rock scene of the 1970s, couldn't make it to her induction. Now retired, she suffers from Parkinson's disease and doesn't travel much. Glenn Frey, who played with fellow future Eagle Don Henley in Ronstadt's backup band, saluted her with an induction speech.