Bon Jovi reunited with former members onstage Saturday night to celebrate their admission into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, as the late icon Nina Simone and other nominees made up this year’s induction class.
Bon Jovi was the first band to take the stage in Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, USA Today reported. Band members Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Tico Torres reunited with former bandmates Richie Sambora and Alec John.
Jon Bon Jovi gave a 20-minute-long speech onstage, which he said he had been writing for years.
"I've been writing this speech since I first strummed a broom and sang at the top of the stairs of my childhood home," he said, according to the paper. "I've actually written it many ways, many times. Some days I write a thank you speech and other days, I write a (expletive)-you speech."
Sambora, who left the New Jersey band in 2013, and Alec John Such, who left in 1994, embraced their former bandmates with a hug after each one spoke onstage to accept the honor. They performed together, singing crowd favorites like "Livin' on a Prayer," ''You Give Love a Bad Name" and "It's My Life."
Sambora thanked his fans and bandmates, the paper reported.
"Songs are very profound in a way, because you're connecting with humanity," he said. "Everybody's more alike than they are (different), and especially now in today's world, that's really important."
Simone, who died in 2003, was welcomed into the Rock Hall in a groundbreaking way from performers who she has deeply inspired, from Lauryn Hill and Andra Day to Mary J. Blige.
Hill stretched her voice and sang in French, in honor of Simone's music, which earned her a standing ovation from the crowd. Day, a Grammy-nominated R&B singer, hit high notes that also earned her applause. Both women exceptionally displayed their powerhouse voices.
Blige inducted Simone, calling the singer "bold, strong, feisty and fearless."
"Her voice was so distinctive and powerful and I never heard anything like it," the R&B superstar said.
Simone was a leader in pushing for civil rights and influenced everyone from Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys. Her brother, Sam Waymon, accepted the honor on his sister's behalf.
The 33rd annual Rock Hall ceremony kicked off with a tribute to Tom Petty, who died in October at age 66.
The Killers earned a loud applause from the audience when they started performing "American Girl," then transitioned to "Free Fallin'."
The Cars and four first-time nominees, including Simone, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, make up the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class.
The ceremony didn’t end this year with the group jam session of the induction class that has become Rock Hall tradition, USA Today reported.
Instead, inductees the Moody Blues ended the night as the last act. Rock Hall voters have recently opened their hearts to progressive rockers, which benefited the "Nights in White Satin" singers.
Howard Stern inducted this year’s class, telling jokes along the way, including one about Rock Hall co-founder Jann Wenner, questioning why he was qualified to vote on who enters the hall.
Stern said the Rolling Stone magazine founder doesn't play any instruments "but he did start a great magazine ... and now it's the size of a pamphlet."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.