"It's an honor to be here tonight, ladies and gentlemen", Stern said during his speech. Some days, I write the "Thank you" speech.
The Democratic governor hailed the band as "one of the most famous, enduring rock bands of all time". "That's how close we get", he said.
Then, with former guitarist Richie Sambora reuniting for the event, the band ripped into "You Give Love A Bad Name". On Saturday, it was a four and a half hour long ceremony that recognized the lifelong works of the bands in Rock and Roll genre and inducted them into Hall of Fame.
Instead, inductees the Moody Blues ended the night as the last act.
The jazzy and soulful Simone, who died in 2003, was a leader in pushing for civil rights and influenced the likes of Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin.
The evening performances included tributes to musicians who died in 2017, with the Killers performing Tom Petty's "American Girl" and "Free Falling" and Ann Wilson of Heart and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains paying tribute to Soundgarden's Chris Cornell with the artist's 1994 hit "Black Hole Sun". Her brother, Sam Waymon, accepted the honor on his sister's behalf. "As as fellow member I found I might be the most qualified one to do this".
Illsley thanked the entire band and described the group as "a collective, a brotherhood".
"I know there's been a lot of speculation about the fact that Mark is not here, but I can assure you, it's just a personal thing".
A flawless Brittany Howard, of the critically acclaimed rock act Alabama Shakes, gave an extraordinary Tharpe impression onstage, winning over the audience with her rousing live performance in honor of the godmother of rock "n" roll.
The frontman said though he and the other current members haven't spoken to Sambora since he left the group, he invites the performer, along with Such, to be part of the Rock Hall festivities. "I just started spending time with my kid between [tour] legs, and my spirit wouldn't pull myself out the door", he said.
Overall, while this year's Induction Ceremony didn't have the star power of previous evenings held in Cleveland, the high-profile event had its moments.
NOTE: A performance of Nina Simone's music and The Moody Blues' induction and concert performance took place late in the night after press deadline.