1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Alice Cooper
Stephen Lovekin  /  Getty Images
Inductee Alice Cooper poses in the press room at the 26th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at The Waldorf Astoria on March 14, in New York City.
updated 3/15/2011 12:16:03 AM ET 2011-03-15T04:16:03

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.

Singer Darlene Love, whose voice cut through Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound," called her induction into the Hall her best 70th birthday present.

Pianist Leon Russell also was 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 Fuse.

Dr. John said he felt "like I'm blessed to be singing, to be breathing."

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.

Love fought back tears in her acceptance speech, saying she had faith that the gift God gave her would sustain her for the rest of her life.

Story: Neil Diamond: an unlikely pop icon

She was inducted with a comic ramble by Bette Midler, who said she was a goner when she first heard Love's voice on a transistor radio.

"Listening to her songs, you had to dance, you had to move, you had to keep looking for that rebel boy," Midler said.

Love lent her powerful voice to several of Spector's hits, in acts such as the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Her "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a holiday standard: She sang on U2's cover and performs it every December on David Letterman's show.

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 a Boston Red Sox anthem. 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.

    1. Like us on Facebook

      Follow our Facebook page, and get updates throughout the day about celebs, movies, TV and more.

    2. On Twitter? Follow us there!

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 "School's Out." Their concerts were steeped in horror movie theatrics, and singer Rob Zombie said Monday they had invented the rock show.

The Phoenix-based Cooper wore a blood-splattered shirt and a boa constrictor to the induction. He said, "We've always been a hard-rock band. We just wanted to decorate it a little differently."

Slideshow: 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (on this page)

Songwriter Waits is well-versed in blues, poetry and ballads, with songs rough and romantic. Several of his Hall of Fame predecessors have recorded his work, including Bruce Springsteen ("Jersey Girl"), the Ramones ("I Don't Want to Grow Up"), Rod Stewart ("Downtown Train") and Johnny Cash ("Down There By the Train"). Another California-based songwriter, Neil Young, said Waits is "undescribable and I have to describe him."

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Waits drew laughs with his induction speech. "They say that I have no hits and that I'm difficult to work with," he said. "And they say that like it's a bad thing."

Russell's long hair and beard gave him a distinctive look, but it's the piano player's songs — particularly "Delta Lady" and "A Song for You" — that made him memorable. His career has recently been revived through a collaboration with Elton John, who inducted him.

Russell walked on stage slowly with the help of a cane and told the crowd that John had found him in "a ditch beside the highway of life" earlier in the year. John described the experience of working with Russell as one of the best years of his life.

Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and Specialty Records founder Art Rupe were to be inducted in the non-performer category.

The rock hall has slightly shifted its format this year, doing the inductions first then gathering artists for performances. In past years, the performances were interspersed throughout the night.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

loading photos...
  1. Neil Diamond

    Inductee Neil Diamond performs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York on Monday, March 14. 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 a Boston Red Sox anthem. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Alice Cooper

    Inductee Alice Cooper performs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, March 14. 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 "School's Out." Their concerts were steeped in horror movie theatrics, and singer Rob Zombie said Monday they had invented the rock show. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Rob Zombie

    Singer Rob Zombie describes with photographs how Frank Zappa found Alice Cooper as Zombie inducts Cooper into the Rock Hall on Monday, March 14. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Leon Russell

    Inductee Leon Russell appears on stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, March 14. Russell's long hair and beard gave him a distinctive look, but it's the piano player's songs -- particularly "Delta Lady" and "A Song for You" -- that made him memorable. His career has recently been revived through a collaboration with Elton John, who inducted him. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Dr. John, John Legend

    Inductee Dr. John, right, and John Legend, left, perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Legend, who inducted John, 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. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Tom Waits

    Inductee Tom Waits performs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York. The songwriter is well-versed in blues, poetry and ballads, with songs rough and romantic. Several of his Hall of Fame predecessors have recorded his work, including Bruce Springsteen ("Jersey Girl"), the Ramones ("I Don't Want to Grow Up"), Rod Stewart ("Downtown Train") and Johnny Cash ("Down There By the Train"). (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Darlene Love, Bruce Springsteen

    Singer Darlene Love performs with Bruce Springsteen after she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Love lent her powerful voice to several of Phil Spector's hits, in acts such as the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Her "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a holiday standard: She sang on U2's cover and performs it every December on David Letterman's show. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. John Densmore

    Musician John Densmore of the Doors performs onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, March 14. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Judy Collins

    Judy Collins performs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. John Mayer

    John Mayer performs at Hall induction ceremony in New York. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Elton John, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Darlene Love, Bette Midler

    Performers, from left, Elton John, inductees Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and Darlene Love and singer Bette Midler perform onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Alice Cooper

    Alice Cooper stands with a group of children with make up like his after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, March 14. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: Neil Diamond
    Evan Agostini / AP
    Above: Slideshow (12) 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  2. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Pre-Game Show
    Frank Micelotta / Getty Images
    Slideshow (21) Living legends of rock
  3. Redferns via Getty Images, AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (16) Bands of the ‘70s that just won’t quit

More on TODAY.com

  1. Robin Macdonald

    Olympian who rescued strays from Sochi: 'They're awesome dogs'

    12/22/2014 7:33:55 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T19:33:55
  1. NBC Universal

    Inside Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy's wedding: Take a sneak peek!

    12/22/2014 6:00:20 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T18:00:20
  1. Blend Images / Shutterstock / Blend Images

    Do this once a day to keep the sniffles away

    12/22/2014 8:07:50 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T20:07:50