NEW YORK (AP) ― New Orleans piano maestro Dr. John wore a bright purple suit for his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, leading a class with Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and Tom Waits.
Fellow pianist Leon Russell and “Wall of Sound” singer Darlene Love also were to be inducted at a black-tie dinner at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan. A tape of the ceremony is to air March 20 on the Fuse cable television station.
Dr. John said he felt “like I’m blessed to be singing, to be breathing.”
Inductee Dr. John appears backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday in New York. (AP-Yonhap News)
He was inducted by singer John Legend, who recalled meeting him at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief. Legend said the new Hall of Fame member has been a leading global ambassador for New Orleans and its special musical gumbo.
“He has never stopped flying the flag of funk,” Legend said. “Tonight, he is definitely in the right place at the right time.”
That was a reference to one of Dr. John’s best-known songs, “Right Place, Wrong Time,” with Allen Toussaint and the Meters.
The Brooklyn-born Diamond wrote pop-rock hits for himself (“Solitary Man”) and others (The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”).
Presidential daughter Caroline Kennedy was the inspiration for “Sweet Caroline,” now an anthem for the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Diamond settled into a comfortable career as a middle-of-the-road concert favorite, although he made some challenging recordings in recent years with producer Rick Rubin.
He said before the ceremony that he had flown in from a concert tour in Australia for his induction and was flying back when it was done.
Alice Cooper is the stage name for singer Vincent Furnier and his band, known for 1970s era hard rock songs “Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Schools Out.” Their concerts were steeped in horror movie theatrics, and singer Rob Zombie was to salute them Monday.
Songwriter Waits is well-versed in blues, poetry and ballads, with songs rough and romantic.