Rock Hall of Fame inducts '80s hitmakers

Duran Duran has stumbled into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Freshly inducted into the Hall by Robert Downey Jr at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night, the 1980s English stalwarts took the stage and launched into their 1981 breakthrough hit Girls on Film.

The shrieking crowd was there for it, but the music wasn't. The band was all but inaudible other than singer Simon Le Bon, whose vocals were essentially acapella.

It was a fun if inauspicious beginning to a mostly slick and often triumphant show that also saw the induction of Pat Benatar, Carly Simon and Judas Priest, with Eminem, Dolly Parton and Eurythmics still to come.

"The wonderful spontaneous world of rock 'n' roll!" the 64-year-old Le Bon shouted as the band stopped for a do-over. "We just had to prove to you that we weren't lip-synching."

They kicked back in at full volume, playing a set that included Hungry Like the Wolf and Ordinary World, quickly snapping back into what Downey called their essential quality: "CSF -- cool, sophisticated fun."

In a room full of Duran Duran stans, Le Bon and bandmates John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes provided what the singer said in his acceptance speech was the essence of their job over the past 40 years: "We get to make people feel better about themselves."

Missing was original guitarist Andy Taylor, who is four years into a fight with advanced prostate cancer.

Hitmakers of the '80s defined the night, with Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie and Eurythmics accepting their places in the Hall along with Eminem and Carly Simon.

"Pat always reached into the deepest part of herself and came roaring out of the speakers," Sheryl Crowe said in her speech inducting Benatar.

"She rocked as hard as any man but still kept her identity as a woman."

Benatar took the stage and displayed that power moments later.

"We are young!" the 69-year-old sang, her long grey hair flowing as she soared through a version of 1983's Love is a Battlefield with so much improvisation that most in the crowd didn't recognise it until halfway through the first verse.

"This is the one that started it!" she said launching into the next song, 1979's Heartbreaker, as most of the audience stood and sang along.

It included a blistering solo from Neil Giraldo, Benatar's longtime musical partner, husband, co-grandparent and now fellow member of the Hall.

Carly Simon was also a notable absence among the inductees, with the ceremony coming two weeks after she lost sisters Joanna Simon and Lucy Simon, both also singers, to cancer on back-to-back days.

Carly Simon was a first-time nominee this year more than 25 years after becoming eligible.

Presenter Sara Bareilles praised the legendary singer-songwriter's "fierce intelligence and soulful vulnerability" before singing a version of her James Bond theme Nobody Does it Better in her place.

Harry Belafonte, 95, was another missing musical giant. He didn't make an appearance for his induction.

In a few cases the presenters were better known than those they inducted.

Janet Jackson appeared in a black suit with a massive pile of hair atop her head, remaking the cover of her breakthrough album Control, as she inducted the two men who made that and many other records with her, writer-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

The crowd welcomed Bruce Springsteen with shouts of "Bruuuce!" as he inducted Jimmy Iovine, founder of Interscope records and the engineer on Springsteen's Born to Run album.

Judas Priest showed they could still bang their grey heads as they lit up the room with hits including Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight.

"They defined the sound we call heavy metal," Alice Cooper said, inducting the group.