Live, if Stewart was on his game, look out. A long-haired runt of a guy with only a scary grin breaking the dark shadows beneath his cowboy hat, Stewart rode an audience like bucking a bronco. Suddenly possessed by the spirit, he'd throw the band a curve by ambling over to the piano and, caressing the keys with the crude, rhythmic whimsy of Skip James, lurch into an impromptu version of Merle Haggard's "I Can't Be Myself" with the herky-jerky rhythm of a marionette that had cut its own strings. Many were afraid of Stewart, spooked by his sheer wattage, but in moments like this he looked as fragile and forlorn as an empty champagne glass on a barroom floor.
This list was originally published before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The idea of a bunch of self-satisfied music-industry fat cats in tuxedos having rock stars assemble for a command performance once a year is precisely the sort of thing rock was created to be the antidote to. There is nothing less rock and roll than a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.