LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A star-studded crowd gathered to celebrate the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees on Thursday, as Oprah Winfrey and Usher gathered to pay homage to the likes of Donna Summer, Quincy Jones, Randy Newman and Rush.
Disco queen Summer, producer Jones and comedy-rock singer Newman were inducted along with Canadian progressive rock band Rush, blues guitarist Albert King, hip hop pioneers Public Enemy, rockers Heart and veteran producer Lou Adler.
Television personality and media mogul Winfrey, who said she was discovered by veteran R&B producer Jones when he cast her in “The Color Purple” in 1985, praised his decades-long career, during which he launched stars such as the late Michael Jackson.
“He defines the word legend, he is remarkable and everybody knows it,” Winfrey said.
“I continue to be amazed at what goes on in his head ... he’s of this time and so far ahead of this time,” she added as she present Jones, 80, with his induction trophy.
“Queen of Disco” Summer, who died last May aged 68, was inducted by singer Kelly Rowland, who praised Summer’s career for paving the way for female artists
“Her words remind us of exactly who we are,” she said.
Summer’s husband and daughters were on hand to accept her trophy and singer Jennifer Hudson got the crowd on their feet singing Summer’s hits “Bad Girls” and “Last Dance”.
Newman, 69, kicked off the night with “I Love LA”, joined on stage by musicians Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty and later performed his songs “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” and “I’m Dead” with former Eagles member Don Henley.
Henley, who inducted Newman, criticized the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for its delay in including Newman, calling it “one of those inductions long overdue, in fact, shamefully overdue.”
Newman was less critical, saying he was “glad” to be inducted while he was still alive.
“I always wanted to be respected by musicians ... it means a great deal to me that the people I respect are giving me respect,” Newman said.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Mayer paid homage to late pioneering American blues guitarist Albert King, who died in 1992 aged 69.
“The blues is in every undercurrent of the music that I play ... Albert is forever embedded in that music,” Mayer said.
Seattle rockers Heart, fronted by sister duo Nancy and Ann Wilson, were inducted by Chris Cornell and performed their hits “Barracuda” and “Butterfly”.
“Equality is coming right along. For us, music is the real church, it’s a life calling, it’s bigger than men and women put together, music makes us all equal and human,” Nancy said.
Canadian progressive rockers Rush had the largest number of fans in the Nokia theater, receiving rousing standing ovations as they were inducted by Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins.
The night’s longest speech went to Public Enemy’s eccentric rapper Flavor Flav, who giggled and rambled as he talked about the influence of his group’s music.
Public Enemy - comprising rappers Flavor Flav, Chuck D, Professor Griff and DJ Lord - were influential in bringing a political and social conscience to hip hop in the 1980s.
“We all come from the damn blues. Let’s not get it twisted. We studied the forms of music in DJ culture ... we’ve always known and paid respect to where music comes from,” Chuck D said.
The hip hop collective also sampled music from Summer, Jones and Rush as they performed their tracks “Bring The Noise”, “911 is a Joke” and the seminal “Fight The Power”.
To be eligible for induction in 2013, a candidate must have released their debut album or single at least 25 years earlier. The ceremony will be televised on HBO on May 18.
The eight inductees were chosen by some 500 voters of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which includes past inductees and for the first time, allowed fans to vote.
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Elaine Lies and Pravin Char