The dawn of the 1980s is upon the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as R.E.M. are among the nine acts on the ballot for induction this year. Joining them are Van Halen, the Stooges, Patti Smith, the Dave Clark Five and hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five.
The induction, to be held March 12 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York, will honor five artists from this year’s list, which also includes singer Joe Tex and girl group the Ronettes.
To be eligible for induction this year, an artist had to have released their first single no later than 1981. R.E.M., the Ronettes and Van Halen are this year’s only first-time nominees (see “So How Do You Get Into The Rock Hall of Fame?”).
Led by Eddie Van Halen’s signature fleet-fingered guitar riffs and singer David Lee Roth’s wild stage antics, Van Halen were one of the biggest hard-rock bands of the ’80s. With such signature hits as “Panama,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Jump,” the group released a string of hit albums — selling more than 56 million LPs in the U.S. alone —beginning in 1978 until its split with Roth in 1985. He was replaced by former solo star Sammy Hagar, who, in turn, was succeeded by ex-Extreme singer Gary Cherone.
With one of the most instantly identifiable sounds in all of rock and roll, R.E.M. are the trailblazers of the early ’80s indie-rock scene in America. From singer Michael Stipe’s poetic, sometimes inscrutable lyrics to guitarist Peter Buck’s jangly riffs, the group has created a string of indelible hits from its very first in 1981, “Radio Free Europe,” through “Can’t Get There From Here,” “The One I Love,” “It’s The End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” and “Man on the Moon.”
Detroit’s Stooges are widely considered to be the prototypes for punk. The group — led by unhinged singer Iggy Pop — blurred the lines between raw blues, psychedelia and garage rock on such signature songs as “Raw Power” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” influencing everyone from the Ramones to Nirvana along the way.
If the Stooges are the godfathers of punk, then Patti Smith is definitely the godmother. A poet and mesmerizing live performer, Smith was one of the early fixtures at the now-defunct New York mecca of punk, CBGB, in the mid-1970s (see “Flea Jams With Patti Smith, Punks Weep At CBGB’s Last-Ever Show” ). She has continued to perform and record topical, emotionally charged music.
When it comes to influence, few hip-hop acts carry as much weight as New York’s Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Led by Flash, one of the most innovative turntable artists in the early years of hip-hop, the group was anchored by Flash’s inventive turntable manipulation and such legendary street tales as “The Message” and the anti-drug rap “White Lines.”
Led by funk masters Nile Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, Chic were one of the hardest-working disco bands of the late ’70s. With such hits as “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” the duo of Rodgers and Edwards created some of the funkiest and most frequently sampled songs (“Good Times” was the basis for “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang) from an era of largely forgotten tunes.
Also nominated is one of the most popular bands from the British Invasion of the mid-1960s, the Dave Clark Five, who rivaled the Beatles in popularity at the time thanks to hits like “Glad All Over.” Girl group the Ronettes — led by Ronnie Spector and known for such mid-1960s hits as “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You” — and 1960s soul singer Joe Tex, best known for his 1965 hit “Hold What You’ve Got,” are also nominated.
The five inductees will be announced in January.