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Peter Gabriel Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Peter Gabriel
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Critics may have been puzzled by Coldplay‘s Chris Martin being chosen to induct Peter Gabriel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the vocalist proved to be an inspired choice, as he mixed humor and insight with perfect balance.

To kick off his soliloquy, he decided to read from “The Book of Genesis” — not the biblical version, but a story/hilarious extended metaphor mixing references to Gabriel, his former progressive rock band’s song titles and Phil Collins. “God came before Phil the Collins. The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel,’” Martin cracked.

Martin also lightly poked fun at Gabriel’s dancing skills and fashion (“He’s repopularized the goatee”). However, he saved a more clever barb for Gabriel’s penchant for self-titling his albums, positing that after a string of eponymous records, his label asked him if he had something else for a title. “Like a petulant teenager, he said, ‘So?’ and they said, ‘That’s perfect.’”

Martin also highlighted Gabriel’s Real World studio and label and, naturally, the pop culture references that make Gabriel endure today: “He helped John Cusack get his girlfriend back in ‘Say Anything.’” Gabriel, in turn, returned the praise: “Chris has been working as a stand-up comic. He’s a great songwriter here.

Ever humble, Gabriel thanked his long-time bandmates by name — including David Rhodes, Tony Levin, Manu Katche — his many musical collaborators over the years and his family. “Surround yourself with brilliance. The brilliance of who you love being around — and the brilliance of their talent,” he says.

But in the speech’s most moving moment, Gabriel ended with a poetic rumination on the beauty and power of music. “Watch out for music. It should come with a health warning. It can be dangerous. It can make you feel so alive, so connected to the people around you.”

“And occasionally, it can make you very, very happy.”

Next: Stones, Beatles Managers Inducted Into Hall of Fame

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