Forty years after their debut album seamlessly blended rock guitars, pop hooks and New Wave chic, the Cars finally entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Speaking at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, the Killers' Brandon Flowers praised their knack for forward-thinking musical synthesis. "They left a comet trail behind them, writing and recording songs that transcended into classics," said Flowers, who noted that co-founder Ric Ocasek found the band's late multi-talented bassist and co-lead singer Benjamin Orr in nearby Lakewood, Ohio.

"Not a bad-looking guy, either," Elliot Easton added, as a cheer went up among the partisan local crowd.

"I lived in Cleveland for a while," Ocasek said with the chuckle. "It was actually the first place I ever played music in front of people. It was at a hootenanny here and I think it was about 20 blocks away, so I’ve only moved this far up the street for all of those years."

Of course, tonight's ceremony actually caps a long road for the Cars. They had been Hall of Fame-eligible since 2003. Despite critical acclaim, four multi-platinum albums and 13 Top 40 hits between 1978 and 1987, the band had never been short-listed for the Hall until 2016. After two unsuccessful attempts, they finished fourth in this year's fan vote, appearing on 552,733 ballots.

Greg Hawkes made special mention of that long-standing support. "I know that some of you voted for us every single day in the fan poll – not only this year, but the two previous years when we didn’t get in," he said.

The band broke up following the release of 1987's Door to Door, the only record of theirs to not make the Top 20, with Ocasek continuing a solo career that began in 1982. Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes got together with Todd Rundgren in 2006, calling themselves the New Cars for a record, It's Alive, and a tour. All four surviving members returned in 2011 for Move Like This, with Hawkes and producer Jacknife Lee handling bass duties. A brief tour followed.

Tonight's ceremony marked their first public performance since they appeared at Lollapalooza that summer. The Cars took the stage with Scott Shriner from Weezer filling in for Orr on bass.

The 2018 induction will be broadcast on May 5 at 8PM ET on HBO.

 

Photos From Tonight's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony