Cleveland’s Rock Hall welcomes new class

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While their lineup has undergone some changes _ founding guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988 _ Kiedis and bassist Flea have survived personal highs and lows and the band remains one of music’s top live acts.

Kiedis said Slovak would have loved the honor.

“I think that he would have a good laugh,” Kiedis said. “Yeah, it would certainly mean something to him as he cared deeply about music and the love of the brotherhood of being in a band and being a creative force in the universe, which he is and always will be a brother in everything we do.”

Stevie Van Zandt, one of Bruce Springsteen’s sidemen in the E Street Band, inducted the Small Faces and Faces, bands that included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, two rock superstars.

Van Zandt credited the underrated bands for having a major influence on generations of rockers. He said both were blessed to have strong lead singers in the late Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart.

“Not many bands get two lives or two of the greatest white soul singers in the history of rock and roll,” he said.

Stewart came down with the flu this week and couldn’t attend. Simply Red’s lead singer Mick Hucknall, a friend of the band, filled in for Stewart on “All Or Nothing,” “Ooh La La,” and the crowd-pleasing classic “Stay With Me,” with Wood, previously inducted with the Rolling Stones, delivering an exquisite slide guitar.

During a speech that was at times comical but heartfelt throughout, John Mellencamp inducted Donovan, a balladeer from the flower-power 1960s once labeled “the new Dylan.” Donovan Leitch had a string of hits in the `60s with “Sunshine Superman,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Mellow Yellow.”

Mellencamp, sporting a healthy growth of gray whiskers, grabbed a few puffs on a cigarette as a video tribute of Donovan played on giant screens. During his remarks, Mellencamp raised the copy of Donovan’s “Fairy Tale” album he bought 47 years ago as a kid in Indiana.

“I wasn’t just listening to Donovan, I was living Donovan,” Mellencamp said. “He was my inspiration. One of the original originals.”

Instead of reading prepared notes, Donovan accepted his honor by reciting a poem _ without using a script _ inspired by his induction. It ended with the line: “I thank my fellow artists all.”

Blues guitarist Freddie King was inducted first. Nicknamed “The Texas Cannonball,” the late King was one of the first bluesmen to be backed by a multi-racial band. He was welcomed into the hall by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill.

“Freddie taught us how to play like a group,” Gibbons said.

The influential Nyro, who died in 1997, never reached commercial success but wrote hits for other artists. She was inducted by singer Bette Midler, who called the New York songstress “one of my favorite artists.”

“I loved her the moment I dropped the needle on the vinyl,” Midler said. “She influenced so many musicians. She was the very essence of New York City. Not in the gritty real sense, but in the passionate, romantic, ethereal, eternal sense.”

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