BY JIM FARBER NEW YORK DAILY NEWS MUSIC CRITIC Friday, April 11, 2014, 1:45 AM
The Hall also inducted Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, and The E Street Band.
So they kissed and made up after all.
During the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to take place in Brooklyn — at the Barclays Center — the members of Kiss, who came in hissing at each other and the press, gave only love on-stage.
“I’m just here to say a few kind words about the four knuckleheads who made this,” said Gene Simmons, as the three others looked on, glowingly.
Even so, the New York-bred band refused to perform at the event, miffed by an earlier feud between lead members Simmons and Paul Stanley, and the other two original players, Ace Frehley and Peter Kriss.
Recently, Stanley even accused the latter two of anti-Semitism, which they denied. The Hall further outraged the band by not inducting later members who have played with them for years.
Yet here Stanley swooned, calling their induction “vindication” for their fans, and positioning their ascent as a vote for “the people” against snobby critics.
The event found a sadder sense of drama in the induction of Nirvana, a band forever scarred by the suicide of their leader, Kurt Cobain.
Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted their induction just four days after the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death.
Inductee Linda Ronstadt was also poignantly absent due to her battle with Parkinson’s disease, which has robbed her of the instrument friend and fellow singer Emmylou Harris called “one of the most beautiful voices on the planet.”
To thicken the night’s dense backstory, the Hall also inducted Yusef Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, who for decades shunned his legacy in music to concentrate on his devotion to the Muslim faith.
The Hall’s latest class included Peter Gabriel (in for the second time, following a 2010 anointment with Genesis), Hall & Oates, and The E Street Band.
Nirvana’s emotional induction included speeches from Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, as well as his mother, Wendy O’Connor.
R.E.M’s Michael Stipe, whom Cobain greatly admired, gave the official induction.
“Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle,” he said. The band pushed “us forward towards our individual and collective potential.”
He saluted Nirvana’s anti-mainstream stance and specifically Cobain for offering an “outsider voice for the fags, the fat, the fed-up and the bullied.”
“Kurt, I miss you,” he said, rawly.
Cobain’s mother fought back tears as she said of her son “he would have been so proud. He’d say he wasn’t, but he would be.”
An uncommonly terse Love echoed that sentiment, “Tonight, he really would have appreciated.”
Love also vowed to give the award to their daughter, Francis Bean, “who isn’t here because she’s sick.”
Novoselic thanked Cobain for fronting music “that means so much for so many people.”
Joan Jett sang lead with the band on a ferocious “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Several other women also sang Cobain’s parts with genuine brilliance and edge: Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth on “Aneurysm,” Annie Clark on “Lithium” and Lorde on “All Apologies.”
Obviously, Bruce Springsteen ushered in his own band of brothers. He talked of all the players who “anchored” the group, going back to the days when they toured “two to a room in $6 hotel rooms.”
Along the way, he singled out Steve Van Zandt as his “comic foil on stage and my blood ... brother,” and the late Clarence Clemons.
“He rose, towering to my right, and he unleashed the force of nature that was the sound, and the soul, of the Big Man,” Springsteen said. “That moment I knew my life had changed. We wish you were here tonight.”
He also thanked wife Patti Scialfa who “changed my band and my life.”
“I told a story with The E Street Band that was bigger than I could have told on my own,” Springsteen summed up.
Together, the band played early touchstones like the Major Lance-influenced, horn-pumped “The E Street Shuffle” and “Kitty’s Back,” along with a later fave of Clemons’: “The River.”
The non-musician category welcomed Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham, early managers of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, respectively. They were both inducted by Peter Asher, a ’60s fixture who worked for Apple Records, had hits with Peter & Gordon, and managed Ronstadt. A video from Mick Jagger praised Oldham for his casting of The Stones as bad boys.
“He always made sure we were as nasty as possible,” Jagger beamed.
“He was a master of branding before anyone talked about that,” Asher said of Oldham.
Oldham snubbed the Hall’s invitation to attend, reportedly miffed that he was being inducted in a two-fer with Epstein, who died in 1967.
Chris Martin of Coldplay gave the speech ushering in Gabriel. In his first public appearance since the announcement of his “conscious uncoupling” from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin re-wrote The Bible in his speech to read from his own to take on the Book of Genesis: “It came to pass that an angel appeared in front of the man called Phil Collins, and he said who are you?”
“I am Gabriel,” he said.
“He’s always been an innovator and a seeker,” Martin said of Gabriel. “And he helped John Cusack get his girlfriend back in the movie ‘Say Anything.’”
Gabriel accepted with words of advice for aspiring musicians, while also making allusion to his colorful outfits of old — “Dream big and let your imagination guide you,” he said, “even if you dress as a flower or a sexually transmitted disease.”
The former front man of Genesis also performed the funky solo song “Digging in the Dirt,” in full, righteous voice.
The Roots’ Questlove orated the intro for Hall & Oates. He admitted their hit “She’s Gone” scared “the hell out of him” at age 4. But, later, let he came to think “H&O will heal you” and noted the number of duos who were more popular than they in their era numbered precisely “zero.”
Nirvana accepted their induction just four days after the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death.
Daryl Hall said that they’re “the only home-grown band from Philadelphia” in the Hall, adding there should be many more.
Soft-voiced singer Art Garfunkel delivered a speech for Islam. He wryly mentioned that had he and Paul Simon not broken up, there might never have been room on the charts for Cat Stevens.
Stevens praised the brave decision of a Rock Hall to induct “someone who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and only sleeps with his wife.”
After performing his heart-tugging old ode “Father and Son,” the elusive star said “bet you thought you'd never hear that one again,"
Since Ronstadt could not perform, the Hall's organizers cast a wide array of female stars to voice her famous covers, including Carrie Underwood (who sang "Different Drum"), Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris (on "Blue Bayou"), Sheryl Crow, voicing "You're No Good" and Stevie Nicks slamming through "It's So Easy." All the women united for "When Will I Be Loved."
Glenn Frey, of the Eagles, glorified Ronstadt in his intro speech — apt, since he got an early career break playing in her backup band. That group, which also included Don Henley, grew into the Eagles, encouraged, Frey said, by Ronstadt.
"Linda lives in a place where art trumps commerce, and integrity trumps fame," he said of the singer.
The complete show can be seen on HBO, debuting 9 p.m. on May 31.