Brian May of Queen helped close out the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony with a passionate induction for his longtime friends Def Leppard - and luckily, he also brought his guitar along.

After declaring that inducting his buddies was "the greatest job in the world," May explained how he first met the band in 1981 while going to see Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. "And who should be supporting but a young, precocious bunch of boys named Def Leppard? I got there late, and I missed them. I felt so bad about it, I sought out their dressing room and went in to see them. I poked my head through the door and said, "Hi, guys, I just wanted to say hello because I missed you, I'm very sorry. And I'm Brian May from Queen. And [to] a man they said, 'No shit?' Which was kind of nice, so I think we got on from that point. And they told me that Queen had been a great influence on them, which is always a great thing for me to think about."

May went on to praise the band's worth ethic, noting that they achieved their success "the old-fashioned way -- they played and played and played and they made incredible music." He also effusively spoke of how the band evolved and overcame adversities such as drummer Rick Allen's car accident and the death of guitarist Steve Clark.

"[Singer] Joe [Elliot] and I in particular, have shared many precious and fun moments," May stated. "We have a strong bond. When Steve died, Joe says the first phone call he got was from me. And when Freddie [Mercury] died, the first phone call I got was from Joe Elliott."

Def Leppard then took the stage and launched into a parade of their biggest hits -- the title track to Hysteria, "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" from 1983's Pyromania, then back to 1987 for "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

They were then joined by May, members of the Zombies, Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles and Ian Hunter for an all-star rendition of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes."

May was confirmed as the person who'd induct Def Leppard two weeks before the ceremony, even though news leaked of his involvement a few weeks earlier, when Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell said during a radio interview, "I've heard a rumor. I don't know if it's for public consumption yet. But it would be pretty easy to figure it out. It's a gentleman who's been a big fan of the band and a friend of the band for many, many decade." He added that the mystery man was "really smart."

When the disc jockey wondered if it was May, Campbell said, "It may well be."

Shortly after Def Leppard received notice of their induction, guitarist Phil Collen suggested that May was an "obvious" choice to give the speech: "We just played Vegas just a few months ago, and Queen were playing just around the corner, and I bumped into Brian at the gym, actually," he recalled.

"He said, 'You're playing tonight?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Me too.' He goes, 'What time do you finish?' And I said, 'We finish about 11.' He said, 'We finish at 8. I'll be over later. I'll finish and I'll come straight over.' He turned up. He'd done a show with Queen, and he came over. And it was just, like, amazing. Brian is one of my biggest influences. I love him. I just can't get over how amazing he is. And we all do — we're huge Queen fans and Brian fans. And so, that would be lovely, if he'd be up for it."

The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air April 27 on HBO.


The Best Song From Every Def Leppard Album

More From 96.9 WOUR