With two turntables and a microphone, Run-DMC broke down the barriers between rock and rap with a unique style. With sparse, stripped-down lyrics above pounding beats, the trio of Joseph “DJ Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell changed rap in the 1980s by taking the realities of the streets to the suburbs.
“They broke away from the pack by being the pack,” said rapper Eminem, looking like the band’s lost member by sporting the group’s trademark black fedora and black leather jacket. “They were the baddest of the bad and the coolest of the cool. Run-DMC changed my life.”
“There’s three of them and if you grew up with hip hop like I did, they were the Beatles.”
Their remake and collaboration with Aerosmith on the rock band’s “Walk This Way” changed modern music.
Any chance of a Run reunion ended with Mizell’s death in 2002, when he was shot to death outside his studio. His murder remains unsolved.
Mizell’s mother, Connie, accepted the award on his behalf.
“My baby is still doing it for me,” she said.
Simmons cited “so many smart people and so much help” several times during his speech. He also thanked Mrs. Mizell, who allowed the group to set up their equipment in her Hollis, Queens, living room.
“She never told us to turn the music down once,” Simmons said, turning to his late friend’s mom. “I’d like to thank you for that.”
Cleveland’s Womack, the son of a steelworker, is best known for his soulful voice, but he had far greater musical range as a talented songwriter and guitarist.
He also branched into gospel, returning to the roots that got him his start with a family group, the Valentinos. He later played guitar for Sam Cooke.
Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones introduced Womack as “the voice that has always killed me. He brings me to tears.” Wood then recalled a night in New York when he and Womack hid as some Hell’s Angels gang members were roughing up Wilson Pickett.
Little Anthony and the Imperials, who began their career singing on street corners in Brooklyn, N.Y., opened the program with a gorgeous medley of hits “Tears on My Pillow,” “Hurt So Bad,” and “I’m Alright.” Many in the crowd mouthed the familiar tracks as lead singer Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine’s falsetto filled the room.
Longtime friend Smokey Robinson presented the doo-wop group, calling their induction “long overdue.”