U2, Pretenders Among Rock Hall Inductees; Grandmaster Flash, Sex Pistols Denied

Percy Sledge, Buddy Guy also among those to be inducted March 14 in New York.

Twenty-five years after the release of their debut — and just weeks after they topped the charts with their latest album — it's been announced that U2 will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Irish rockers lead the 20th anniversary class of inductees, which also includes R&B vocal group the O'Jays, soul singer Percy Sledge, the Pretenders and blues guitarist Buddy Guy (see "U2, Grandmaster Flash, Sex Pistols Lead Rock Hall Of Fame Nominees").

The class of 2005 will be inducted at a ceremony on March 14 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

U2, who formed in 1976 as teenagers in Dublin, Ireland, released Boy in 1980 and became one of the biggest and most iconic bands in the history of rock by the mid-1980s, thanks to such landmark hits as "With or Without You," "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

The O'Jays had a string of hits in the 1970s, including the smash "Love Train," while soul-stirring singer Percy Sledge is known for his signature ballad, "When a Man Loves a Woman."

The Pretenders, led by the smoky-voiced singer Chrissie Hynde, are known for such hits as "Brass in Pocket" and "Back on the Chain Gang." Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy has been a force on the electric guitar for more than 25 years, influencing everyone from Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix with his energetic playing and wild stage show.

Passed over for the Hall of Fame were legendary British punk rockers the Sex Pistols, whose singer, John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten), once said the Cleveland museum is where "old rockers go to die." The Pistols were among a group of 10 artists who were eligible for induction but passed over this year.

Fellow punkers Patti Smith and the Stooges also didn't make the final cut, along with Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and one of the pioneering acts in hip-hop history, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, who would have been the first rap act to be inducted into the hall.

Inductees in the non-performer category include early rock and roll booking agent Frank Barsalona (Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen) and Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein, known for signing everyone from Madonna and the Ramones to the Talking Heads.

Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record.