The Eagles‘ Glenn Frey introduced the tribute to Linda Ronstadt at the 29th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony that aired Saturday (May 31) on HBO, but it was Carrie Underwood who really did the honors.
After Frey talked about his history with Ronstadt — from meeting her in the early ’70s, playing in her backup band and working on what he said would come to be called country rock — he introduced Underwood.
She took the stage in a black halter jumpsuit and her blond hair in loose waves and did the first song in a Ronstadt medley, “Different Drum.” The song was written by Michael Nesmith (yes, the singer-songwriter in the Monkees) and released in 1967 by Ronstadt’s folk-rock band, the Stone Poneys.
It was an unlikely choice for the very happily married Underwood because it’s about a woman not ready for any person place or thing to try and pull the reins in on her. But she nailed the song.
After that, Underwood brought out Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris, and the trio did Ronstadt’s 1977 hit cover of Roy Orbison‘s “Blue Bayou,” then Sheryl Crow joined the all-girl tribute for “You’re No Good.”
For “It’s So Easy” and “When Will I Be Loved,” Stevie Nicks joined the women — and Frey on background vocals — to close out the tribute.
Ronstadt, 67, revealed last year she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Now retired and no longer traveling, she wasn’t there, but Nicks had a special message for her.
Mentioning Underwood’s performance of “Different Drum,” Nicks noted, “I was in the end of high school or the beginning of college. I heard that song by Linda Ronstadt, and I said, ‘That’s what I wanna do. I don’t look that good in cutoffs, but I’m doing it.’”
Cat Stevens, the E Street Band, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Kiss and Hall & Oates were all also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the recent ceremony.