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Dolly Parton Rules the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony 2022

Here are the highlights of a show you’ll want to watch Nov. 19

spinner image Dolly Parton performing with her guitar onstage at the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Inductee Dolly Parton performs onstage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 5, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2022 induction ceremony was, according to award presenter Pink, “one of the most magical nights I’ve ever witnessed.” And the Nov. 5 show (to be telecast Nov. 19 on HBO Max) may rank as the most eclectic yet, a cavalcade of genres from hip-hop to heavy metal. The inducted ones: Pat Benatar (69) and Neil Giraldo (66), Dolly Parton (76), Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Judas Priest, Lionel Richie (73), Eminem (50), Jimmy Jam (63), Terry Lewis (65) and Carly Simon (69). Harry Belafonte (95) and the late Elizabeth Cotten got the Early Influence Award. Here are the highlights of rock’s big evening — watch for them in the telecast:

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The top-billed, most rapturously greeted honoree, Dolly Parton, was extolled by the evening’s most valuable player, Pink, who brought ease and conviction to her celebration of the country queen. She was so unselfconscious and confident that when she and Brandi Carlile slightly muffed a vocal handoff in an otherwise exquisitely sensitive rendition of Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” a highlight of the show, they played it off with a laughing, comradely hug. “I guess I’m a rock star now,” said Parton, and proved it, delivering her new tune “Rockin’” in an outfit of one color: black.

Lionel Richie refused to be pigeonholed

After being touted by a sunglassed Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie pointed out in his acceptance that most of his hits were songs that advisers warned would end his career. He expressed the lingering resentment he bears toward people who admonished him early on that his approach wasn’t “Black” enough. “Rock ’n’ roll is not a color, it is a feeling,” he said, and launched into an impeccably performed, Vegas-worthy set that produced a formidable dancing outbreak with his exuberant 1983 hit “All Night Long,” followed by a duet with Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl (53) on the Commodores’ 1977 song “Easy.”

We wouldn’t lie to you — Eurythmics rocked the house

Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart (70) and Annie Lennox (67) felt like the most catalyzing of all the performers. Stewart recapped the duo’s scuffling early days by proclaiming, “Our art personas were protected by the armor of our art.” Now a famous and famously generous-minded producer, he directed praise and thanks to Lennox, and in a ripping if brief set, she shimmied, stalked the stage and belted out “Would I Lie to You?,” “Missionary Man” and their breakout smash “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” The response was ecstatic.

Carly Simon's gift was heard but not seen

Honoree Carly Simon didn’t attend because she lost her two big sisters, opera singer Lucy Simon and Carly’s first bandmate Joanna Simon, to cancer just a couple of weeks earlier. But her songs shone in her absence: Sara Bareilles did a gracious job subbing for her on the James Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better,” and the absurdly fetching Olivia Rodrigo, who won this year’s Best New Artist Grammy 50 years after Simon did, absolutely nailed “You’re So Vain,” with the audience joining in on the chorus. Maybe this song is about us all?​

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Eminem breaks the color bar (and wins a victory for rap)

Dr. Dre gently mocked himself (and the world) for having been surprised in the 1990s that Eminem, the hip-hop phenom whose demo tape gobsmacked him, was a white boy from hard-luck Detroit. Dre’s take on Eminem’s honor was that shared music has a healing power in race relations. “Turns out, this unassuming white guy with blue eyes from Detroit being repeatedly turned down and turning everything we thought we knew about hip-hop on its head by forcing us to confront our own biases, growing not only the genre but all of us right along with him.”

​Dressed in a hoodie and a low-slung cap further hiding his already inscrutable facial expressions, Eminem showed the validity of Dre’s introduction, bringing full verve to snippets of  “My Name Is” and  “Rap God,” and bringing out Steven Tyler (74), scarves on the mic and all, for a live sample of “Dream On,” plus Ed Sheeran doing the lines Eminem sampled from the singer Dido in “Stan.” After the controlled chaos of Eminem’s set, he mellowed everybody out with an encyclopedic list of his rap influences — it might have made a fine closer to the show.

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No one could compete with her “Jolene”

But giving Eminem the last word would have denied Dolly her own moment. She strutted forth in an Elvis-y rock vamp get-up and electric guitar to do her own banger, then performed “Jolene” with a bevy of great voices: Sheryl Crow (60), Carlile, Lennox (in a cowboy hat), Benatar, Pink and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford. 

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on — yet Dolly was what you’ll remember

After Dolly slew the crowd, Bruce Springsteen (73) and John Mellencamp (71) trailed onstage for a quick Jerry Lee Lewis medley, which came off like an afterthought barely a week after his death. Rock star Dolly Parton’s temporary supergroup was one hard act to follow.​

The biggest event in music besides the Grammys has had some bad press in recent years — in 2016, The Guardian opined, “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should be put out of its misery!” But some of the new inductees triumphed over similar negativity. And given the diverse blend of genres and the palpable goodwill shared on stage and throughout the room, this year’s commemoration has teed up the Hall of Fame for a future more promising than naysayers could ever imagine.

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