By Jill Serjeant
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Late rapper Tupac Shakur and 1960s protest singer Joan Baez were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday on a night where nostalgia was mixed with calls to political action.
Former Journey frontman Steve Perry reunited on stage with his “Don’t Stop Believin'” bandmates for the first time in 25 years to screams and hugs of joy, while Roy Wood of Electric Light Orchestra turned up for the New York ceremony 45 years after leaving the English band.
But one of the strongest moments came from Baez, 76, who linked her lifelong record of social activism and non-violence with a rallying call for resistance today.
“Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion a priority. Let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge, to welcome the tired and the poor,” Baez told the Hall of Fame audience.
Baez then played an acoustic version of the traditional spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and ended with the hope that the song’s band of angels were “coming for to carry me, you, us, even Donald Trump, home.”
Baez enjoyed a new round of fame this week with a protest song called “Nasty Man” about U.S. President Donald Trump. It was her first songwriting effort in 25 years and has been viewed some 3.3 million times since it was posted on her Facebook page on Tuesday.
Emotions ran high for the induction of Shakur, the Harlem-born rapper who was gunned down at age 25 in a 1996 drive-by shooting in Las Vegas that has never been resolved.
Shakur, whose songs about social and racial injustice still resonate today, was only the 6th rap act to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its 30-year history.
Fellow rapper Snoop Dogg recalled he and Shakur in the early 1990s as “two black boys struggling to become men.”
“Tupac’s a part of history for a reason – because he made history. He’s hip hop history. He’s American history,” Snoop said.
“Tupac, we love you. You will always be right with us. They can’t take this away from you homie,” he said, accepting the statuette on Shakur’s behalf.
British progressive rock group Yes, and Seattle-based grunge band Pearl Jam were also among the 2017 inductees, who were chosen by more than 900 voters drawn from the music industry.
Disco producer Nile Rodgers, the man behind 1970s hits like “Le Freak” and “We Are Family,” was presented with a special award for musical excellence.
Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording.
Tributes were also paid on Friday to Chuck Berry, who died last month at age 90 and who was the first person ever to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and Prince, who died of an accidental painkiller overdose in April 2016.
The 2017 induction ceremony will be broadcast on cable channel HBO on April 29.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Pullin)