However, it was not just a celebration: a number of artists chose to use the occasion to make impassioned pleas and remember lost friends.
Late rapper Tupac Shakur‘s award was collected by his friend, fellow rapper Snoop Dogg.
Joan Baez – as known for her activism as her singing – made a rallying call for resistance in the face of “the new political cultural reality”.
Image source Flickr
The 76-year-old folk singer, who admitted most younger people had never heard her work, made a return to the spotlight this week when her song Nasty Man went viral.
Joan Baez – imitating Donald Trump’s particular way of speaking – told the audience gathered at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center: “Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion a priority. Let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge, to welcome the tired and the poor.”
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder tackled climate change, saying: “We cannot be the generation that history will look back upon and wonder, why didn’t they do everything humanly possible to solve this biggest crisis of our time?”
Snoop Dogg was on hand to collect Tupac Shakur’s trophy, more than two decades after he was shot dead in Las Vegas.
Calling Tupac “the greatest rapper of all time”, Snoop Dogg recalled how they were just “two black boys struggling to become men”, adding: “To be human is to be many things at once: strong and vulnerable, hard-headed and intellectual, courageous and afraid, loving and vengeful, revolutionary and, oh yeah… gangsta!”
Tributes were also paid to 1986 Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Berry, who died last month aged 90, with ELO playing one of his best known hits – Roll Over Beethoven.
Meanwhile, Nile Rodgers – lead guitarist of disco band Chic – was recognized for his contribution to production.
Tupac Shakur, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and Sly Stone are among the artists who will receive lifetime honors from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
Six artists have been selected to enter the Rock Hall, including Joan Baez and grunge act Pearl Jam.
Tupac Shakur will be only the fifth hip-hop artist recognized, after the likes of Run DMC and Public Enemy.
The Grammys will honor Velvet Underground and Sly Stone with their special merit awards.
In a statement, the Recording Academy said the Velvet Underground, whose career was masterminded by Andy Warhol, were “ahead of their time, both visually and sonically”.
“Despite a relatively brief lifespan and limited commercial success, the Velvet Underground are now recognized as one of the most influential rock bands of all time,” the statement added.
Image source Flickr
Sly Stone, who was the lead singer in Sly and the Family Stone, was praised by the Academy for playing “a critical role in the development of soul, funk, rock, and psychedelia”.
Other recipients include jazz legend Nina Simone, gospel singer Shirley Caesar, jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, country star Jimmie Rodgers and guitarist Charley Pride.
Nina Simone, who died in 2003, became famous in the 1950s and is known for classic songs including Feeling Good and I Put a Spell on You.
The musicians will be celebrated in February as part of the festivities in the run up to the Grammy Awards.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is arguably the more prestigious honor, is voted for by 900 historians, members of the music industry and artists, including every living Rock Hall inductee.
Artists become eligible 25 years after the release of their first album or single. 2017 is the first year Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur were eligible. They are also the first artists to join the institution who started their careers in the 1990s.
The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, April 7, 2017, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. HBO will broadcast the highlights, which often include an all-star jam featuring past and present winners.
A limited number of pre-sale tickets will be available for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members in advance of the public sale date. To be eligible for the member pre-sale, you must be an active Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member by December 31, 2016. Additional public ticket details and presale offers will be announced in the future. The special exhibition on the 2017 Inductees will open at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on March 30.