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Music

Watch Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix

@TylerGolsen

These days, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is a fairly well-planned and organised affair. But back in the hall’s first decade, there was a wild air of spontaneity going around the various ballrooms where the inductions took place. With each new year came a new influx of inductees, and by the early 1990s, pretty much every classic rock great would attend to see their peers and heroes get enshrined.

It was a slow drip in the beginning: the first two years of inductions were saved for the original legends of the craft like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Budd Holly. Even The Beatles had to wait until the third class of inductions in 1988 to get their chance, and that was the year that Mike Love called out Mick Jagger for being too “chickenshit” to get on stage with The Beach Boys. As I said, spontaneity ruled the day back then.

1992 was an important year in terms of diversifying what “rock and roll” actually meant. Although some might gripe that artists like Madonna and Public Enemy aren’t really “rock”, the hall was enshrining important musicians of all genres back in the ’90s. 1992 saw Johnny Cash become the first true country artist to get inducted, while The Isley Brothers, Sam & Dave, and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland showed how impactful the worlds of soul and R&B were to rock music’s development.

But the night truly belonged to one act: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even on a night where Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton were all getting statues for The Yardbirds, the focus was squarely on the British power trio with the world-changing American at its front. Hendrix had been dead for over two decades, but every single last rock legend jumped on stage to pay tribute to Hendrix and his legacy as ‘Along Along the Watchtower’ gets counted in.

A quick glance at the stage shows an incredible mass of rock legends: Neil Young leads the group with lead vocals, but in the first shot alone you can pick out Page, John Fogerty, Keith Richards, John Paul Jones, and Carlos Santana. A quick wheel around shows The Experience’s Noel Redding, Steve Cropper from Booker T & the MG’s, and a few Isley Brothers just for good measure. Mitch Mitchell is keeping things steady on the drum kit, and brief glimpses of Beck, Cash, and The Edge can be seen in the dense crowd. Even John Popper from Blues Traveler is puffing away on an unheard harmonica.

These kinds of all-star jams became the go-to finales for most ceremonies going forward, and they would become at least slightly more put together than this cacophony of guitars and noises. But everyone seems to be having a ball, and there’s no other way to get such a diverse range of talent on stage. Page even throws in a few licks from his ‘Stairway to Heaven’ solo, since both songs share the same progression. Maybe they could have chosen an actual Hendrix song, but even Bob Dylan plays ‘Watchtower’ more like Hendrix did these days, so it ends up being a fitting tribute to both the guitarist and to the power of rock and roll.

Check out the all-star lineup play ‘All Along the Watchtower’ down below.