Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder urged action against global warming, while Baez boasted of her devotion to social activism. But one of the most anticipated performances revolved around Journey and singer Steve Perry.
Grunge icons Pearl Jam and folk legend Joan Baez led the newest class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Friday night in New York - other inductees included the late rapper Tupac Shakur, Journey, Electric Light Orchestra and Yes.
The induction ceremony at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn began with a tribute to rock and roll icon Chuck Berry, who passed away last month at the age of 90.
Pearl Jam's lead singer, Eddie Vedder, and Joan Baez seized the moment to advocate for social activism.
Vedder issued a call to arms on climate change - saying that rising temperatures were not, in the phrasing of industry-friendly US President Donald Trump, "fake news."
"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?" said the outspoken singer.
The 76-year-old Baez was a leading protest singer during the 1960s. She said she was proud to have devoted her life to speaking "truth to power" - from campaigning against the Vietnam War to fighting for civil rights.
"Now in the new political cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there is much work to be done, where empathy is failing and sharing has been usurped by greed and lust for power," she said.
"Let us build a bridge, a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor," Baez said, juxtaposing lines from Trump and the immigrant-welcoming poem on the Statue of Liberty.
An anticipated performance
Picking up her guitar, Baez sang "Deportees," folk great Woody Guthrie's ode to Mexican laborers, with Americana artists the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter backing her up.
Shakur, who was gunned down under murky circumstances in Las Vegas in 1996, was honored posthumously as the first solo rapper to be inducted into the rock shrine.
Electric Light Orchestra, known for its marriage of rock and classical, brought strings into a cover of Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" before going into the band's most popular song, "Evil Woman."
One of the night's most anticipated performances belonged to Journey. Despite earlier reports, Steve Perry did not perform with the current Journey members. Instead, Arnel Pineda sang lead as the band performed their hits, including "Don't Stop Believin'."
Perry has been estranged from the band for many years but he did embrace guitarist and co-founder Neal Schon onstage.
"You're the one who put us here," Perry said to the Journey fans, earning one of the night's loudest applauses. "I've been gone a long time but you've never not been in my heart."
bik/tj (AP, AFP, dpa)