[30 March 2009]
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is trying a few new things this year.
The annual induction ceremonies will be in Cleveland - home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where inductees’ names are permanently enshrined - instead of at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan. It also will be open to the public for the first time, instead of being a high-priced, first-class night out for the music industry. And its live broadcast has jumped cable networks, from VH1 to Fuse.
But, most of all, it will likely be relatively controversy-free. No Madonna, like last year. No no-shows, like Van Halen in 2007, or band-member blowouts, like Blondie’s in 2006. Inductees Metallica, who have been known to generate some controversy themselves, practically guarantee it.
“We’re in a good space,” says Metallica singer-guitarist James Hetfield, adding that all of the band’s current and former members will be invited to take part. “We want everyone to celebrate that fact. ... We don’t want to see the drama - unfortunately of Blondie or The Sex Pistols or Van Halen. It’s ridiculous. This is Metallica’s moment, along with others. Let’s celebrate.”
Here’s a look at this year’s well-behaved class:
Members: Singer-guitarist Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo, as well as former bassists Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted
Hometown: Los Angeles
Known for: Bringing together thrash, heavy metal and rock, and providing an antidote to the hair-metal bands of the ‘80s with virtuoso guitar playing and serious songs. They are now the standard-bearers of the genre, with five No. 1 albums, including last year’s “Death Magnetic.” To be inducted by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Debut: “Kill ‘Em All” (1983)
Biggest hit: “Until It Sleeps” (No. 10, 1996)
Biggest achievement: Bouncing back from their Grammy snub in 1988, when the award for best metal performance went to Jethro Tull - arguably the worst mistake in the show’s history. (Rule changes and nine Grammys have followed.)
Working on: Promoting “Death Magnetic” and the Guitar Hero: Metallica video game.
Members: Rappers Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and DJ Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell
Hometown: Hollis, Queens
Known for: Bringing hip-hop music and culture to mainstream America through street-wise rhymes, breakthrough videos and, eventually, a rock edge. Their anthem, “My Adidas,” ushered in a new age of hip-hop influence in fashion and advertising. To be inducted by Eminem.
Debut: “Run-DMC” (1983)
Biggest hit: “Walk This Way” (No. 4, 1986)
Biggest achievement: They became the first rap group to be on MTV, on the cover of Rolling Stone and to be nominated for a Grammy.
Working on: The Rev. Run is involved in his MTV reality series, “Run’s House”; DMC is preparing his solo album as well as a new reality show, “The Kings of Rap.” Police continue to investigate the 2002 murder of Jam Master Jay in his Queens recording studio.
Hometown: Surrey, England
Known for: Bridging various musical styles with his virtuoso guitar playing, reworking the blues into the foundation of heavy metal and bringing a rock sensibility to jazz fusion and even electronica. To be inducted by Jimmy Page.
Debut: “Truth” (1968)
Biggest hit: “People Get Ready” (No. 48, 1985)
Biggest achievement: Becomes a rare two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, after being inducted in 1992 as part of The Yardbirds.
Working on: Supporting the recent “Performing This Week Live at Ronnie Scott’s” album with a tour.
LITTLE ANTHONY AND THE IMPERIALS
Members: Singers Anthony Gourdine, Clarence Collins, Tracy Lord, Glouster “Nat” Rogers, Sammy Strain, Ernest Wright Jr.
Hometown: Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Known for: Bringing New York doo-wop to a broader audience in the ‘50s and then transforming into a soul group in the ‘60s. To be inducted by Smokey Robinson.
Debut: “We Are the Imperials” (1959)
Biggest hit: “Tears on My Pillow” (No. 4, 1958)
Biggest achievement: Named to Vocal Group Hall of Fame and recipients of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award
Working on: Touring to support their recent “You’ll Never Know” CD, celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary.
Known for: His gorgeous voice and for writing such soul classics as “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” for himself and others, including “It’s All Over Now” for the Rolling Stones and “Trust Me” for Janis Joplin, as well as his work as a guitarist with Sam Cooke. To be inducted by Ron Wood.
Debut: “Fly Me to the Moon” (1969)
Biggest hit: “Lookin’ for a Love” (No. 10, 1974)
Biggest achievement: His albums “The Poet” and “The Poet II,” which will soon be rereleased by ABKCO Records, cemented his influence over a third decade of R&B and soul music
Working on: A boxed set, “Bobby Womack Retrospective,” to be released later this year
Also set for induction this year:
Early Influence Inductee rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, and Sidemen Inductees Bill Black and DJ Fontana from Elvis Presley’s band, and R&B keyboardist Spooner Oldham.
WHEN & WHERE
“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2009 Inductions,” 9 p.m. EDT Saturday on Fuse, live from Cleveland