“They say that I have no hits and that I’m difficult to work with,” he said, “and they say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Russell composed “A Song for You” and “Delta Lady,” but said he was in “a ditch beside the highway of life” when Elton John called a year ago and suggested they record an album together. The result was nominated for a Grammy.
“Thank you very much,” he said. “I appreciate it and Hallelujah.”
Love, whose voice cut through Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound,” called her induction into the hall her best 70th birthday present. She fought back tears in her acceptance speech, saying she had faith that the gift God gave her would sustain her for the rest of her life.
Love lent her powerful voice to several of Spector’s hits, in acts such as the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Her “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is a holiday standard: She sang on U2’s cover and performs it every December on David Letterman’s show.
She was inducted with a comic ramble by Bette Midler, who said she was a goner when she first heard Love’s voice on a transistor radio.
“Listening to her songs, you had to dance, you had to move, you had to keep looking for that rebel boy,” Midler said.
Dr. John, born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr., wore a bright purple suit for his big moment. He was inducted by singer John Legend, who recalled meeting him at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief. Legend said the new Hall of Fame member has been a leading global ambassador for New Orleans and its special musical gumbo.
“He has never stopped flying the flag of funk,” Legend said. “Tonight, he is definitely in the right place at the right time.”
That was a reference to one of Dr. John’s best-known songs, “Right Place, Wrong Time,” with Allen Toussaint and the Meters, which he performed as the ceremony slipped past midnight.
Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and Specialty Records founder Art Rupe were also inducted in the non-performer category.
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