Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash inducted into Hall of Fame

David Hinckley
New York Daily News (MCT)

NEW YORK - The incredible disappearing Van Halen created the biggest buzz as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gathered for its annual induction at the Waldorf-Astoria Monday night.

A reunion of the fractious hard rock band was originally promoted as a highlight of the 22nd annual black tie ceremony.

But guitarist Eddie Van Halen checked himself into rehab last week and original lead singer David Lee Roth announced that the Hall wouldn't let him sing his favorite song - "Jump" - so he was going to take the night off.

That left center stage with a distinctly New York feel.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who helped bring rap music out of the Bronx in the late 1970s, became the Hall's first hip-hop inductees.

"Hip-hop had the same social impact in the `80s and `90s that rock `n' roll had in the `50s," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, another New Yorker who was on hand to deliver a tribute to the late James Brown.

The Ronettes, who brought a new level of physical and musical sex appeal to early `60s rock `n' roll, were inducted after what lead singer Ronnie Spector called "way too long a wait."

Patti Smith, whose poetic writing helped define New York's downtown punk music scene of the `70s, overcame what she called her own ambivalence to accept her statuette and sang several songs.

The Furious Five and the Ronettes also performed, as did the night's fifth inductee, Southern rockers R.E.M.

The band Velvet Revolver performed two Van Halen songs.

This year's induction had one somber note: a lengthy tribute to co-founder and longtime guiding force Ahmet Ertegun, chairman of Atlantic Records, who died Dec. 14 at the age of 83.

Ertegun and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner mobilized the record industry to support the Hall concept in 1985, and Wenner was among those who paid tribute Monday night to his longtime cohort.

This year the induction was telecast live for the first time, on VH1 Classic.

A two-hour edited version will air on the regular VH1 Saturday night at 9.

The induction dinner has been held at the Waldorf-Astoria for all but two of its 22 years.

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