The latest class of 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees started the night in grand fashion on Friday, April 7, at Brooklyn's Barclay Center, by honoring Chuck Berry. If Elvis Presley assumed the title of King of rock 'n roll, Chuck Berry has never lost respect as patriarch and creator of the genre. Jeff Lynne led his Electric Light Orchestra in opening the festivities with “Roll Over Beethoven,” paying homage to Berry, who was in the first class of inductees in 1986, and who died just three weeks ago. ELO, progressive rock founders, Yes, grunge greats, Pearl Jam, power ballad masters, Journey, folk legend, Joan Baez, and poet rapper, Tupac Shakur rounded out the diverse group who honored the past, and the people who made their music matter.

Moments of dreams come true

“I’ve watched lots and lots and lots of these,” gushed Lynne, “and wondered if I’d ever get one.” The ELO founder’s pure graciousness set a tone for the night. Jon Anderson of Yes spoke of his memories of meeting Chris Squire, who passed away in 2015. The induction was the first reunion of Anderson with the group of in more than 10 years. Joan Baez evoked the same social consciousness that has always marked her creativity, saying the time had come to “repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority.” David Letterman had the look of Father Time personified in full white beard as he gave the word to welcome Pearl Jam as “more than a band.” Snoop Dogg offered loving words to his friend, Tupac Shakur, whose life was robbed much too early by a hail of bullets in 1996.

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“Tupac knew he was only human,” spoke Snoop, “to be human is to be many things at once.” The most touching moments of bringing past to present were still to come, and one came behind the stage.

Journey comes full circle

Front man and soaring vocalist, Steve Perry, who left Journey after 26 years due to issues related to a heart condition, chose not to perform with his band, but he did take the stage. Perry was exuberant in his words to fans. “You put us here! You are the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!” Perry also expressed gratitude to Arnel Pineda, who has fronted Journey since 2007. Pineda’s story, too, contains elements that redefine inspiration, being pulled from the slums and dive bars of Manila after samplings of his YouTube videos. Pineda put on a performance worthy of the night, packed with spirit and passion that defied his stature, and the delight of his life was yet to come backstage. Steve Perry and Arnel Pineda met for the first time and exchanged words filled with nothing but love and appreciation. “Waited 35 years for this moment,” Pineda shared on Instagram. “Thank you, Almighty God!” Perry named Arnel as “the man who sings his heart out every night,” and thanked him for keeping Journey’s music alive.

The festivities closed with a rousing jam to Neil Young's “Rockin’ In the Free World.” The pain, the past, and protest all have a place in song, but it's love that keeps the passion.