The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 18th annual inductions ceremony March 10 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. To be eligible, an artist or group must have released their first commercial recording 25 years prior to the year of induction. This year's group of artists spans the 1960s, '70s and '80s. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Class of 2003."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, also known as The Righteous Brothers, for their "blue-eyed soul" music of the 1960s. During his induction speech for The Righteous Brothers, Billy Joel remarked, "Sometimes people with blue eyes transcend the limitations of what their color and culture can actually be. Sometimes white people can actually be soulful. This was a life-changing idea. It changed my life."
Forming their partnership in 1962, The Righteous Brothers turned out hits such as Unchained Melody, (You're My) Soul And Insipration and the classic, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. Since the 1960s, the duo has been a popular concert act.
Australian rockers AC/DC were also honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their combination of heavy metal and blues. Steven Tyler, lead singer of the equally hard-rocking Aerosmith, praised AC/DC's use of the power chord in rock, referring to it as "the thunder from Down Under that gives you the second most-powerful surge than can flow through your body." After his induction speech, Steven joined AC/DC for a version of their rock classic, You Shook Me All Night Long.
British punk pioneers The Clash entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2003. Cranking out a powerful blend of punk and rock in the late 1970s, The Clash was one of the first bands to bring social conscience into the punk arena. Their lyrics spoke out against war, racism and corporate greed, while expressing idealism when it came to love and romance. The group was inducted by U2's guitarist The Edge and Tom Morello of Audioslave. Tom said the band's punk idealism lived on "whenever people take to the streets to protest an unjust war." All hopes for a Clash reunion at the induction ceremony faded when lead singer Joe Strummer died of a heart attack this past December. "I accept this on behalf of all the garage bands who might never have dreamed of this kind of moment," Clash guitarist Mick Jones commented.
Elvis Costello was the human bridge between punk and the New Wave movement of the early 1980s. Over the years, his angry and aggressive style has matured into a blend of rock, jazz and blues. Along with his band, The Attractions, Elvis Costello established himself as a clever, expressive songwriter and charismatic live performer. In his long career, Elvis has collaborated with everyone from former Beatle Paul McCartney to the Irish traditional band, The Chieftains, to pop songwriting legend Burt Bacharach. One of Elvis Costello's long-time fans, Elton John, delivered his induction speech.
Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the "sidemen" category included Nashville session piano player Floyd Cramer, drummer Benny Benjamin and sax player Steve Douglas. Former Warner Brothers Records president Mo Ostin was inducted in the non-performer category.
To celebrate their entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Police reunited for their first public performance in 18 years. British members Sting and Andy Summers, along with American Stewart Copeland, have all been pursuing solo careers. Led by Sting's soaring tenor voice and bass lines, along with Andy's inventive use of electronic guitar effects and Stewart's intricate rhythms, The Police dominated the charts from 1979 through the mid-1980s. As they performed their 1981 hit, Every Breath You Take, The Police were joined on stage by John Mayer, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, who gave the induction speech.
The ceremony and performances for the 18th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions were recorded and will be televised on March 16 on the VH-1 cable television network.