Punk pioneer Iggy Pop inducted Nine Inch Nails into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tonight during a televised virtual event.

"When I first heard about Nine Inch Nails, and heard a little of the music, I thought, 'Well, who is this guy?'" Pop said. "So I took a look. And I saw a face straight out of 15th-century Spain. I think Trent [Reznor] could have played Zorro. If he’d been alive at the right time, I think he could have been painted by Velazquez or El Greco, and his portrait would probably be hanging in the Prado [Museum] today."

Moving to the band's music, Pop said that "listening to Nine Inch Nails, which is so often called industrial, I actually hear a lot of funk. Just listen to ‘Closer,’ and the foundation could be Stevie Wonder or George Clinton. But on top of that is a focused and relentless process of emotional destruction, which paints a portrait of pain, pressure and dissatisfaction. It's the soundtrack to the dark and lonely party that was beginning to play out in America in that period. So, I would call it not industrial, but the sound of industrial digital ambition."

In addition to Reznor, who's basically a one-man band on Nine Inch Nails' 11 albums, the Rock Hall inducted Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Chris Vrenna, Danny Lohner, Ilan Rubin and Allesandro Cortini as part of the group. They've joined Reznor onstage, and occasionally in the studio, over the years.

Pop, who was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2010 as a member of the proto-punk band the Stooges, concluded his introduction by recalling a 1995 Nine Inch Nails show in Los Angeles. "Trent held the center of that room just by being a kind of dark spot, hunched behind the mic," he said. "I’d seen the same thing accomplished in different ways by T. Rex at Wembley, Nirvana at the Pyramid club and Bob Dylan in 1965. This is the mark of the master artist, simply to connect. The controversial and brilliant French novelist Michel Houellebecq, when asked the secret of his success, said: ‘It’s easy, just tell the truth.’ Listening to Nine Inch Nails feels like hearing the truth. So, it gets you a little bit closer to God."

The annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was supposed to take place in Cleveland in May, but it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, this year's class – which also includes the Doobie Brothers, T. Rex, Depeche ModeWhitney Houston and the Notorious B.I.G. – are being virtually inducted tonight during pre-recorded segments for an HBO special.

 

Top 100 '90s Rock Albums