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Art Garfunkel Inducts Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Art Garfunkel
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Art Garfunkel had the honor of inducting his friend Yusuf Islam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight, and the Simon and Garfunkel star did a fine job pointing out why the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens‘s music was so enduring.

“Sensitivity with a bass voice — I should have thought of that,” he lamented cheekily at one point. Later, he quipped: “This guy’s better than Paul Simon!”

Garfunkel’s comments weren’t rooted in jealousy, but rather admiration. And during his speech, his reverence for Islam’s music shone through; Garfunkel sang snippets of his songs and talked about why they mattered. Garfunkel also demonstrated plenty of respect for Islam as a person.

“He played with his persona the way he played with chord changes,” Garfunkel says. And, later: “The most sincere seeker, a loving man with an ever-expanding embrace, my friend Yusuf Islam, the artist we call Cat Stevens.”

Islam started his speech on a slightly bewildered note: “I never thought I’d be on the same stage as Kiss, to be honest.”

The rest of his speech was rambling and often nonlinear (“Inducted — it sounds weird and medical”), covering the love he has for his family, the history of music (Beethoven’s 9th symphony: “The best pop song ever written”) and, finally, the paradox of his peace-loving, clean-living self being elected to the Hall of Fame.

“[He] doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t throw televisions out of hotel rooms and only sleeps with his wife,” Islam said. “I’d say it was a very brave decision — and one which was unexpected and strangely, outrageously rock & roll. Peace.”

Next: Kiss (Mostly) Behaves During Their Induction

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