U2, Grandmaster Flash, Sex Pistols Lead Rock Hall Of Fame Nominees

Patti Smith, Stooges, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gram Parsons, O'Jays are also on the list.

It looks like John Lydon — a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols — could be getting ready to die.

The snarling Pistols frontman has found his band among the 15 finalists for enshrinement in the 2005 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an institution Lydon once declared to be a "place where old rockers go to die."

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Shame, that's what it ought to be," Lydon complained in 2003, after the Sex Pistols were denied entry for the second year in a row — although contemporaries the Ramones and the Clash received nods. "[That] title was clearly earned."

The Pistols are just one of three punk pioneers poised for enshrinement in 2005: Patti Smith and the Stooges also made the cut. The rest of the nominees include U2, Lynyrd Skynyrd, early hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, country legend Conway Twitty, alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons, singer/songwriter Randy Newman and R&B acts the O'Jays, Percy Sledge and Wanda Jackson.

Aside from the Sex Pistols, the most intriguing nomination is that of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, who would become the first rap act inducted in the Hall. To be eligible for enshrinement, an artist's initial release must be 25 years old. Flash & the Five released two singles, "Superappin" and "Freedom," in late 1979 and early 1980, and the group's recognition could be the beginning of a wave of hip-hop inductions into the Hall.

Voters received ballots in the mail last week, and performers who receive the highest number of votes (and more than 50 percent of the vote) will be inducted; the Hall generally elects five to seven performers a year. The inductees will be announced sometime in November, and the induction ceremony — the Hall's 20th — is scheduled to take place in New York in March.