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Tupac, Pearl Jam Win Spots in Rock Hall of Fame

Rap legend Tupac Shakur and grunge rockers Pearl Jam earned spots Tuesday in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as perpetual nominee Nile Rodgers finally won recognition — in a side category.
     Tupac Shakur

Tupac, who was slain in 1996, and Pearl Jam were both chosen to enter the shrine to rock culture in their first year of eligibility.

The other selected artists were folk singer Joan Baez, stadium-packing rockers Journey and two top forces in English progressive rock — Yes and the Electric Light Orchestra.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct its new class at an April 7 concert at the Barclays Center in New York.

The Cleveland-based institution made its decision by nominating 19 acts and polling 800 music industry experts, with fan voting accounting for a single ballot.

Tupac remains one of the most iconic figures in rap even 20 years after his death, with fans worldwide drawn by his emotional directness and theatrical flair.

He will be inducted one year after the Hall of Fame chose politically charged gangsta rappers N.W.A., part of a growing recognition that hip-hop belongs to the rock tradition.

Pearl Jam remains one of the enduring acts of 1990s alternative music boom, with frontman Eddie Vedder’s raw vocals and left-wing activism bringing a fresh edge to classic rock songs.

Nirvana, a fellow Seattle grunge band often seen as Pearl Jam’s rivals, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 — also in the first year of eligibility, defined as 25 years since an act’s first single or album.
– Vindication, of sorts, for Rodgers –

Chic, a top group of the disco age with nightclub hits such as “Le Freak,” has been nominated a record 11 times — a streak that has been increasingly awkward for band co-founder Rodgers.

Chic again did not win. But Rodgers will be inducted on his own with the separate Award for Musical Excellence, which recognizes producers or side musicians who make their mark out of the spotlight.

Rodgers, 64, has worked with an array of top acts from Diana Ross to Madonna to Lady Gaga. He teamed up with David Bowie in the 1980s for the rock icon’s disco metamorphosis.

The dreadlocked guitarist, in an interview last year with AFP, said he tried not to “get weird” about not entering the Hall of Fame and considered the saga “actually sort of funny.”

But he questioned the criteria, saying that his involvement in such a vast number of chart-topping records clearly demonstrated his influence.

Baez is a leading figure of the 1960s counterculture and remains a staunch activist for the environment and non-violence.

Her induction comes just after fellow folk singer Bob Dylan — whom she mentored and for a time dated — won the biggest award of all: the Nobel Prize.

 Prog rock triumphs

Journey is the most mainstream of the new inductees, with Neal Schon’s guitar anthems pulling in massive audiences.

“Don’t Stop Believin’,” released in 1981, remains a staple of sporting events and political rallies in the English-speaking world.

Journey nonetheless had its roots in progressive rock, the 1970s movement that brought more complex structure and improvisation to pop.

Yes is one of the most identifiable bands in prog rock, winning a following through the band’s technical skills and incorporation of jazz and blues.

The band also transformed itself frequently, and reached number one in the United States in 1983 with “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

The only consistent member of Yes, bassist Chris Squire, died last year although founding singer Jon Anderson, known for his unusually high voice, remains active on side projects.

The Electric Light Orchestra is the most experimental of the new inductees, with the Birmingham group taking its cue from The Beatles’ psychedelic phase and combining classical elements and futuristic themes.


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