The 1970s shock-rockers known for their outrageous costumes and makeup and hits such as "Rock and Roll All Nite," did not directly comment on the Hall of Fame's decision to honor only the band's the original members, leaving out current bandmembers Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer.
"We are humbled to stand up on this stage," said founding member Gene Simmons, accepting the band's induction made by guitarist Tom Morello. But Simmons did mention by name other band members, some current, who were not included in the Hall of Fame honors.
Paul Stanley, who has also been critical of the Hall's induction process, focused on the band's fans, saying "for our fans, this is vindication."
In his induction, Morello echoed that sentiment, noting "KISS was never a critics' band, KISS was a people's band." He also observed that the over-the-top theatrical band was noteworthy for, among other things, influencing acts ranging from Lady Gaga to Garth Brooks to Slipknot.
In previous years the Hall of Fame has included varying mixes of past and present members of bands such as The Grateful Dead and Metallica which have had evolving rosters.
Stevens performed at the concert and ceremony in Brooklyn, as did Gabriel, lead vocalist for the progressive rock band Genesis who went on to a solo career that included hits such as "Sledgehammer." Genesis was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
After being inducted by Chris Martin, Gabriel sang "Digging in the Dirt," and his hit "In Your Eyes," from the 1980s youth romance, "Say Anything."
After singling out by name musicians, as well as engineers, producers and even agents he has worked with, Gabriel paid tribute to the power of music, which he said "can make you feel so alive ... and think that the world would, could and should be a much better place, and occasionally make you very, very happy."
INSPIRED BY BEETHOVEN'S NINTH SYMPHONY
Stevens, who has converted to Islam and goes by the name Yusuf Islam, had trouble securing a U.S. visa to travel from London and his attendance was confirmed just days ago.
He kicked off his remarks by quipping "I never thought I'd be on the same stage as KISS, let's be honest."
After paying tribute to inspirations ranging from Beethoven's Ninth symphony to Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," Stevens finished with another joke, saying "I'm not the best of you, but looking around, I'm not the worst, either."
His induction could signal a return to the spotlight after decades of not performing for the "Wild World" and "Peace Train" singer, both of which he sang live on Thursday night.
Grunge band Nirvana, country-rock singer Linda Ronstadt and chart-toppers Hall and Oates were among other artists being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Ronstadt, who revealed last year that she is battling Parkinson's disease, did not attend, while the surviving members of Nirvana - founder Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994 aged 27 - were not expected to perform.
Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow appeared in a musical tribute to Ronstadt, who was inducted by Glenn Frey at the 29th annual ceremony, which will be aired on HBO on May 31.
Duo Hall and Oates were also set to perform, while Michael Stipe and Bruce Springsteen were both expected to appear inducting honorees. Stipe will induct Nirvana, which was chosen in its first year of eligibility, 20 years after founder Cobain's death. The E Street Band, the group behind Springsteen, was set to be inducted by the rocker through the Award for Musical Excellence.
Brian Epstein, the music entrepreneur who managed The Beatles before he died in 1967, and Andrew Loog Oldham who managed The Rolling Stones, were both be inducted with the Ahmet Ertegun Awards for lifetime achievement.
Oldham did not attend, saying on Twitter: "Like Brian Epstein, I was not consulted as regards this matter, & like dear Brian I will not be going."
The inductees, who will join the Hall of Fame's 719 other musicians and executives as members, were chosen by more than 700 voters from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Fans were allowed to cast votes online for the artists they believe were the most deserving of induction, with three of their top five choices making the cut this year.