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Lenny Kravitz Honors Prince With Powerful Tribute at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Joe Readle / Cindy Ord, Getty Images
Joe Readle / Cindy Ord, Getty Images

Lenny Kravitz paid tribute to his longtime friend Prince tonight at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony by performing “When Doves Cry” and “The Cross.”

The former song started off smoldering, and much slower than the original. Backed by a band that included guitarist Craig Ross, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, drummer Franklin Vanderbilt and keyboardist George Laks, Kravitz stood at the mic and crooned the lyrics, taking a slow and slinky approach.

After the first verse, he stepped away from the mic for some funky dancing and shook a tambourine. When he returned to the mic, the 30-member Hezekiah Walker and Love Fellowship Choir provided powerful gospel backbone to the song. The troupe sang some of the song’s indelible lyrics (“Maybe I’m just too demanding/Maybe I”m just like my father, too bold”) with gusto.

Kravitz fed off this energy, at one point conducting the choir like he was a preacher testifying, as the rest of the band unleashed an incredible roar. It was incredibly powerful, and incredibly moving.

“The Cross,” meanwhile, started off deceptively slow — but it too built into a raucous rock ‘n’ roll number. The fellowship choir again came in and added strength and power, making it too moving and emotional. You get the impression that Prince would’ve loved both performances.

Kravitz and Prince socialized and performed together frequently, most notably teaming up to perform “Fly Away” and “American Woman” on the latter’s Rave Un2 the Year 2000 Pay-Per-View concert, which was later released on DVD. In 1995, Prince released “Rock and Roll is Alive! (And it Lives in Minneapolis)” as a tongue-in-cheek response to Kravitz’ “Rock and Roll is Dead” single.

A week after Prince’s death, Kravitz paid tribute to his friend via a Rolling Stone interview. “I still haven’t really recovered. Not to be dramatic or overly sensitive, but I really feel like a piece of me died. I say that because of what he meant to me as an influence. I remember sitting in biology class in high school. I had a Sony Walkman and I’m listening to Dirty Mind… . He looked like me. I could identify with him. I had this big imagination as to where I was gonna go, and it did not fit in a box. He was saying to me, ‘You can do this. This is how I did it, and now you do it your way.'”

The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be broadcast live on HBO Saturday, April 29.

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