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Van Halen, R.E.M. among Rock Hall inductees

Van Halen made a “jump” into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday along with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., the Ronettes and Patti Smith.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Van Halen made a “jump” into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, along with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five — the first rap act to be inducted into the hall — and R.E.M., the Ronettes and Patti Smith.

A panel of 600 industry figures selected the five acts to be inducted at the annual ceremony, to be held March 12 in New York. To be eligible, artists must have issued a first single or album at least 25 years before nomination.

“R.E.M. and myself in particular are really terrible of looking backward,” R.E.M.’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, told The Associated Press via phone from London. “I’m just really honored that they thought of us.”

Van Halen was the 1980s hard rock quartet led by guitarist Eddie Van Halen, outrageous lead vocalist David Lee Roth, and later, rocker Sammy Hagar, that put out hits such as “Jump” and “Dreams.”

Eddie Van Halen stood out with his blistering guitar solos; his feud with Roth led to Hagar’s run with the band, which produced hits into the 1990s.

R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Stipe) was the quintessential indie rock band until breaking through to mass success in the early 1990s with songs like “Losing My Religion.”

The unique sound of their first album, 1983’s “Murmur,” was the beginning of the multiplatinum band’s emergence as leader of the U.S. alternative scene of the ’80s and ’90s.

Punk rock poet Smith, known as the Godmother of Punk, came out of lower Manhattan in the early 1970s to create a blend of cerebral, raggedly emotional music.

Stipe said got a congratulatory call from Smith, a good friend, on Monday. He noted that when he first heard her music in the 1970s, “I decided that I wanted to make music and be in a band ... now she and I are great friends.

“It was great to be able to congratulate her back.”

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Kid Creole, Cowboy, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, Raheim) led the most innovative act in hip-hop’s formative era in the late 1970s, and the song “The Message” was like a letter from urban America. Grandmaster Flash was considered a pioneer in many DJ techniques.

With beehive hairdos and dark eyeliner, the 1960s girl group the Ronettes (Estelle Bennett, Ronnie Spector, Nedra Talley) achieved their greatest success with producer Phil Spector and his “wall of sound” style. Spector, who is awaiting a March 5 murder trial in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, co-wrote the trio’s biggest hit, “Be My Baby,” and was married to its lead singer, Ronnie Spector.

The Rock Hall will also honor Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records, who was a crucial figure in the careers of artists such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones and one of the leading figures to help create the rock hall.