The atmosphere at the 1991 induction ceremony was charged with the event delayed due President George Bush's initiation of the bombing of Baghdad. The decision was made to begin the ceremony after watching his declaration of the first Gulf War on an installed screen. "I think music will often articulate in the best way the feelings of the general public, and I personally don't remember hearing a prowar song," remarked Bob Krasnow to the hushed audience. Jann Wenner recited the lyrics to Jackson Browne's "Life in Balance," and throughout the emotional evening, several artists spoke out against the war.
Adding to the pathos, the great singer-songwriter and guitarist Curtis Mayfield, who was being inducted as part of the Impressions, had been paralyzed from the neck down during a horrific stage accident in Brooklyn the previous summer. While his fellow musicians watched with tear-filled eyes, Mayfield gave his acceptance speech from his home in Atlanta via satellite. Great pioneering bluesmen and women were also saluted on this night, and old quarrels were healed when the original members of the Byrds gathered together onstage.