Matt Sorum, left, Duff McKagan, Slash and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses… (Michael Loccisano, Getty…)
CLEVELAND — Axl Rose wasn't the only musician who didn't show up to perform Saturday at the 27th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but it was illness that kept Rod Stewart from reuniting with the Faces and Adam Yauch from joining with the Beastie Boys.
Rose's boycott of the 51/2-hour event generated the most sparks, however, because of his very public shunning of the ceremony and his decision not to join with his former bandmates as they became members of the Hall of Fame, which also inducted singer-songwriters Donovan and Laura Nyro and both incarnations of the British rock group the Small Faces and Faces.
Mentions of Rose's name drew catcalls and choruses of boos from many among the crowd of about 6,000 members of the public and 1,400 invited guests at the induction, held in the 89-year-old Cleveland Public Auditorium.
Rose bowed out because of long-standing resistance to acknowledging previous members of the long-running group (he owns the rights to the name).
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, April 17, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: An article in the April 16 Calendar section on the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony misspelled the first name of Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones as Kenny.
Green Day lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, who gave the induction speech for Guns N' Roses, shot back, "Shut up! He's the greatest front man to ever step in front of a microphone."
Then Armstrong added, "But he is crazy. And I can vouch for that. Lead singers are crazy."
Former members of the group decided the show must go on with or without Rose. After accepting their statuettes, guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, drummers Steven Adler and Matt Sorum played songs from GNR's 1987 debut album, "Appetite for Destruction," with Myles Kennedy, the singer for Slash's latest solo project, handling vocals on "Mr. Brownstone," "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City." Latter-day Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke also joined them onstage.
McKagan took a diplomatic tack when making his acceptance remarks, saying, "It doesn't matter who's here tonight because this is about the music that band created."
Slash subsequently teamed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers after their induction for a set that concluded with an all-star jam also featuring former Faces and current Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood, Armstrong and funk pioneer George Clinton.
The Small Faces/Faces reunion performance also had to call on a substitute singer, with husky voiced Simply Red vocalist Mick Hucknall stepping in for Stewart, absent with strep throat.
And instead of performing without longtime cohort Yauch, who has cancer, Beastie Boys members Mike Diamond (a.k.a. Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) ceded their performance segment to a trio consisting of Kid Rock, Gym Class Heroes' Travie McCoy and the Roots' Black Thought outfitted in matching green Nike jogging suits.
Inducting Donovan, Indiana rocker John Mellencamp said the first album he ever bought was by Donovan and confessed that "I stole a lot from him.... Excuse me, people here would call that being 'influenced by' him."
Donovan, 65, responded by reciting a poem he said his selection for the rock hall had inspired and called being inducted "a singular honor.... It's the brightest searchlight on my music the world could beam."
Bette Midler choked back tears as she talked of her admiration for Nyro, who died of cancer at age 49 in 1997. Her only child, Gil Bianchinni, a rapper who uses the name Gil-T, accepted her award, saying the recognition would have made his mother proud.
E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt made the induction speech for the Small Faces and Faces, saying, "Very few bands get a second chance, but very few bands have not one but two of the greatest white soul singers in rock 'n' roll history: Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart."
Marriott, who opened the door for Stewart to come in when he left the band to start Humble Pie, died in 1991. Bassist Ronnie Lane, who was in both iterations of the group, died in 1997.
Surviving members Kenny Jones, Ian McLagan and Wood played with Hucknall, who prefaced their performance that included "Ooh La La" and "Stay With Me" saying, "This isn't the easiest gig I've ever had."
Along with the six main performer inductees, Smokey Robinson ushered in the bands of six previously inducted frontmen: the Comets (Bill Haley), the Crickets (Buddy Holly), the Famous Flames (James Brown), the Blue Caps (Gene Vincent), the Midnighters (Hank Ballard) and his own colleagues in the Miracles. Thirteen surviving members of those groups appeared to receive the awards.
"Bands didn't play behind singers, they played together; they weren't backup singers, their harmonies made the songs complete," Robinson said.
The Ahmet Ertegun Award, named for the late Atlantic Records co-founder who also was instrumental in establishing the Hall of Fame, went to producer, publisher and TV show impresario Don Kirshner, who was saluted by songwriter Carole King, one of his former Brill Building writers in the '60s. Kirshner died last year.