Music legend Led Zeppelinwas recognized on Sunday alongside entertainers from stage and screen for their contributions to the arts and American culture at the KennedyCenterHonors,lifetime achievement awards for performing artists.
The eclectic tribute in Washington alternated between solemn veneration and lighthearted roasting of honorees Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, wisecracking late-night talk show host David Letterman, blues guitar icon Buddy Guy, ballerina Natalia Makarova and Led Zeppelin.
Stars from New York, Hollywood and the music world joined President Barack Obamaat the White House on Sunday night to salute the honorees.
"I worked with the speechwriters - there is no smooth transition from ballet to Led Zeppelin," President Barack Obama deadpanned while introducing the honorees at a ceremony in the White House East Room.
Obamadescribed all of the honorees as artists who "inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world."
"It's that unique power that makes the arts so important," he added.
Later on the red carpet, Letterman said he was thrilled by the recognition and to visit Obama at the White House.
"It supersedes everything, honestly," he said. "I haven't won that many awards."
By the end of the night, the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and Lenny Kravitz got the crowd moving to some of Zeppelin's hits at the Kennedy Center.
Jack Black declared Zeppelin the "greatest rock and roll band of all time."
"That's right. Better than the Beatles. Better than the Stones. Even better than Tenacious D," he said. "And that's not opinion – that's fact."
For the finale, Heart's Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson sang "Stairway to Heaven," accompanied by a full choir and Jason Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
This extravagant gala will be aired on CBS television on December 26.
Here we have put together some of the memorable moments from 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, in pictures. Have a quick look.
Kennedy Center honorees, Led Zeppelin band member Jimmy Page, late-night TV host David Letterman and blues musician George "Buddy" Guy appear on the balcony as they attend the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center in Washington, December 2, 2012.
Led Zeppelin band mates, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones laugh during remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as he honors the 2012 Kennedy Center honorees during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama honors 2012 Kennedy Center honoree, blues musician George "Buddy" Guy during the ceremony.
Kennedy Center honorees, late-night TV host David Letterman speaks to actor Dustin Hoffman during ceremony.
Previous Kennedy Center Honoree, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his wife Jill Horner pose for photographers on the red carpet as they arrive for the 2012 Honors at the U.S. State Department after a gala dinner for the Honorees, in Washington DC on December 1, 2012.
Kennedy Center 2012 Honors attendees gather for a group photo. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Honorees Blues Legend Buddy Guy, Ballerina Natalia Makarova, actor Dustin Hoffman, Producer Michael Stevens, Chairman David Rubenstein, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Honorees rock band Led Zeppelin members, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, late night television host David Letterman, President Michael Kaiser and actress Meryl Streep at the U.S. State Department after a gala dinner for the Honorees, in Washington DC, December 1, 2012.