While pop music's spotlight is about to shine brightly on Eminem -- his first video and album in five years are rolling out over the next month -- the rap icon was simply a fan on Saturday night, honoring his heroes, Run-DMC, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland.
With Em providing the induction speech, Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and late DJ Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell became the second hip-hop group ever (behind Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) to be inducted.
Dressed for the occasion in Run-DMC-inspired attire (black leather jacket, shirt, and pants topped off with a black fedora), Eminem -- whose video for "We Made You," off his upcoming album Relapse (out May 19), premieres on MTV tomorrow -- heaped praise on the music legends, crediting them with changing his life, comparing them to the Beatles, and insisting that they were "the first rock stars of rap."
"They didn't take no for an answer, much the same way as they didn't give up when much of the world refused to recognize rap as real music, " he said. "They were the first movie stars of rap. They were the baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool. Two turntables and a microphone."
Em recalled how he'd skipped school in the ninth grade to buy the cassette of Tougher Than Leather on the day it came out. "As soon as I heard 'Run's House,' man, it was pretty much a wrap for me," he said. "Marshall Mathers became Eminem. It was the first time Run-DMC had changed my life, but it wouldn't be the last."
The group did not perform at the ceremony, in keeping with their vow not to play live again following Mizell's 2002 death. But fellow inductees Metallica played a short set that included "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman." Ex-bassist Jason Newsted performed with the band for the first time in eight years.
"I think rock'n'roll is about possibilities and about dreams," drummer Lars Ulrich said. "The fact that the six of us can be up on the stage tonight, snot-nosed kids, outcasts, loners who grew up in very different parts of the world, in very different situations and make it here tonight ... rock'n'roll truly is about possibilities," adding, "Metallica's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Can you fucking believe that?"
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone guitarist Ron Wood (on hand to honor inductee Bobby Womack) had some news of his own to share: He revealed that he has recorded about a dozen songs for a solo album called More Good News, which will feature production by Bob Rock (Metallica, 311) and a guest appearance by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder [via Billboard.com].
Additional honorees included doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials, rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson, and guitarist Jeff Beck (who was introduced by former Yardbids bandmate and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page).
The night concluded in traditional fashion with an all-star jam session: Beck and Page joined Metallica, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Wood, and Flea on a cover of the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A Rollin.'"
The ceremony will reair on Fuse Saturday, April 11, at 5 P.M., Sunday, April 12, at 7 P.M., Wednesday, April 15, at 12 A.M., and Friday, April 17, at 5 P.M.
Watch highlights from the induction ceremony, including Eminem's induction of Run-DMC (it starts around the 3:35 mark):