Richie Sambora, the original guitarist for arena-packing rockers Bon Jovi reunited with the band for a rousing set at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland that included hits “You Give Love a Bad Name and “It’s My Life.”
R&B-infused progressive rockers the Moody Blues took the stage to perform “Your Wildest Dreams,” while New Wave pop songwriters the Cars played “Just What I Needed.”
Soul legend Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the gospel inspiration for early rockers, both of whom were posthumously inducted, and British rockers Dire Straits rounded out the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
The shrine to rock culture surveyed some 1,000 historians and music industry players to select the new inductees.
Bon Jovi, the hard rockers from New Jersey led by namesake Jon Bon Jovi, came out on top in a survey that drew 6.8 million fans, whose preferences were taken into account to give an extra vote to five acts.
With a string of quickly memorable hits such as “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” Bon Jovi became kings in the 1980s, packing arenas on their exhaustive tours full of pyrotechnics.
Simone, who won induction on her first nomination, was widely considered one of the most influential singers of the 20th century who brought the sensibilities of classical music to gospel and jazz.
Raised in segregated North Carolina, Simone became a passionate advocate for racial equality, with her best-known song perhaps the civil rights anthem “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” She died in self-exile in France in 2003.
Tharpe, who died in 1973, was chosen for her early influence on rock.
With her confident stage presence and distortion on her guitar, Tharpe took gospel music to new audiences in the 1930s and 1940s, helping set the stage for rock ‘n’ roll after World War II.
Dire Straits, led by Mark Knopfler, emerged from Britain’s so-called pub rock scene of the 1970s, which emphasized blues roots and no-frills musicianship in an era of angry punks and flamboyant glam bands.
In its citation, the Hall of Fame credited the London band with its revival of Americana, saying, “Dire Straits dragged rock kicking and screaming back to its gritty, country roots using beefy guitar licks and bluesy vocals.”
The Cars, led by Ric Ocasek, went in a different direction, bringing the quirky electronic effects of New Wave to classically structured pop songs, generating a string of hits such as “You Might Think,” “Shake It Up,” and “Drive.”
The Moody Blues started in R&B but shifted gears sharply with 1967’s concept album “Days of Future Passed.” With its incorporation of classical music, the album helped create progressive rock, with its more ambitious structures.