Springsteen and Mellencamp Honor Jerry Lee Lewis at Rock Hall
Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp closed out the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony with a rollicking tribute to the recently departed Jerry Lee Lewis, performing the rock 'n' roll pioneer's "High School Confidential" and "Great Balls of Fire."
The rockers were backed by Zac Brown Band during their barnstorming performance. E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan also sat in on the jam — a fitting addition, as Lewis was famous in part for his furious piano playing.
"One last one for the Killer," Springsteen said before beginning the performance. "Anybody know the lyrics? Can you get 'em up there?"
Lewis, who died on Oct. 28 at the age of 87, was the last surviving member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 1986, which also included early rock and R&B luminaries such as Chuck Berry, James Brown, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. "Somewhere in the world, in a mean little honky-tonk or big music hall or church basement rec room, someone is playing a Jerry Lee Lewis song," read a statement from Lewis' publicist at the time of his death.
Springsteen and Mellencamp appeared earlier in the evening to induct record executive Jimmy Iovine and entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, respectively, into the Rock Hall. Both industry powerhouses received the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which recognizes non-performing music industry professionals who "have had a major influence on the creative development and growth of rock and roll and music that has impacted youth culture."
In his speech, Springsteen remembered Iovine convincing him to give Patti Smith an unfinished demo, which turned into "Here Comes the Night," her biggest chart hit. "With Jimmy's guidance, Patti Smith turned 'Here Comes the Night' into a huge Top 5 record – something I could never have done, because I didn't have the guts to turn it into a love song like Jimmy did," the Boss said.
Mellencamp, meanwhile, shared a memory of Grubman comparing the music industry to a "great big motherfucking tree" that remains "massive and unbending. On this tree are a bunch of apples. A few stay firmly attached, but most of the apples, I'm sorry to say, they shrivel up and drop to the ground ... sadly forgotten." He thanked his friend for making sure he stayed attached to the proverbial tree.
Watch Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp's Rock Hall 2022 Jerry Lee Lewis Tribute