Van Halen, R.E.M. among rock hall of famers

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R.E.M., Van Halen, Patti Smith, the Ronettes and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 12 during a ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. To be eligible for induction, this year's class had to release their first single no later than 1981.

The upcoming event will also pay tribute to late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who served as the chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

R.E.M. and Van Halen face the decision of whether to perform at the ceremony with ex-members. R.E.M. reunited with former drummer Bill Berry last fall to celebrate its induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and even hit the studio with him to record a track for an as-yet-unreleased charity album.

For Van Halen, the situation is more complex. The group is without a lead singer, although rumors are swirling that original frontman David Lee Roth will tour with the outfit this summer. In addition, Eddie Van Halen's teenage son recently replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony in the band.

Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie, Miles Davis and record moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss were enshrined in the Hall in 2006.

Inductees are chosen by music industry insiders from a short-list of acts who become eligible for consideration 25 years after their first recording. Those who did not make the cut were punk rock band the Stooges, English pop combo the Dave Clark Five, funk combo Chic, and late soul singer Joe Tex.

Grandmaster Flash, born Joseph Saddler, pioneered hip-hop in the 1970s by transforming the record turntable into a musical instrument. The DJ recruited rappers to perform over his music, and thus was born the Furious Five -- Kid Creole, Cowboy, Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, and Raheim. Their tune "The Message," a gritty account of ghetto life, was a worldwide smash in 1982.

Smith became a major figure on the New York punk rock scene in the 1970s, thanks to such singles as "Hey Joe"/"Piss Factory" and her 1975 album "Horses," which mixed Beat poetry and primal rock.

The Ronettes, formed by Ronnie Spector with her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley, enjoyed huge success in the 1960s with such tunes as "Be My Baby" and "Baby I Love You."

The group was the beneficiary of producer Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique, which overdubbed scores of musicians and instruments to create a massive roar. The Spectors were married in 1968, but divorced six years later.

Additional reporting by Reuters
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