Flea gave a moving speech in which spoke of his passion to play for the musicians before him. He choked back tears as he thanked his mother.
Three white middle-class smart alecks from New York City, the Beastie Boys were initially dismissed as beer-swilling frat boys following their 1986 debut album "License To Ill," which featured songs like "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" and "Girls." But their follow-up, "Paul's Boutique," was acclaimed by critics and brought the Beasties credibility in the black hip-hop community.
"It broke the mold," said Public Enemy's Chuck D, later citing one of the group's lines. "The Beastie Boys are indeed three bad brothers who made history. They brought a whole new look to rap and hip-hop. They proved that rap could come from any street — not just a few."
Only two of the three Beasties attended the ceremony. Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz read a speech by Adam "MCA" Yauch, who has been fighting cancer.
The Beasties are just the third hip-hop act to enter the hall, joining Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five and Run DMC.
Kid Rock joined the Roots in a medley of Beastie hits, including "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" and "Sabotage."
Stevie Van Zandt, one of Bruce Springsteen's sidemen in the E Street Band, inducted the Small Faces and Faces, bands that included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, two rock superstars.
Van Zandt credited the underrated bands for having a major influence on generations of rockers. He said both were blessed to have strong lead singers in the late Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart.
"Not many bands get two lives or two of the greatest white soul singers in the history of rock and roll," he said.
Stewart came down with the flu this week and couldn't attend. Simply Red's lead singer Mick Hucknall, a friend of the band, filled on three songs including the classic "Stay With Me," with Wood, previously inducted with the Rolling Stones, delivering an exquisite slide guitar.
During a speech that was at times comical but heartfelt throughout, John Mellencamp inducted Donovan, a balladeer from the flower-power 1960s once labeled "the new Dylan." Donovan Leitch had a string of hits in the '60s with "Sunshine Superman," ''Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "Mellow Yellow."
During his remarks, Mellencamp raised the copy of Donovan's "Fairy Tale" album he bought 47 years ago as a kid in Indiana.
"I wasn't just listening to Donovan, I was living Donovan," Mellencamp said. "He was my inspiration. One of the original originals."
The influential Nyro, who died in 1997, never reached commercial success but wrote hits for other artists. She was inducted by singer Bette Midler.
"I loved her the moment I dropped the needle on the vinyl," Midler said. "She was the very essence of New York City. Not in the gritty real sense, but in the passionate, romantic, ethereal, eternal sense."
Carole King inducted late rock promoter Don Kirchner, who helped launch the careers of Prince and the Eagles.
Smokey Robinson inducted long-deserving backup bands for early rock artists. The groups included Buddy Holly's The Crickets, James Brown's The Famous Flames, Bill Hailey's The Comets and Robinson's The Miracles.
Associated Press Writer Thomas J. Sheeran contributed to this report.
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