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, 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 recognises producers or side musicians who make their mark out of the spotlight.

The 64-year-old dreadlocked guitarist 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.

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

“I never considered myself to be a rock and roll artist,” Baez, 75, wrote on Facebook.

“But as part of the folk music boom which contributed to and influenced the rock revolution of the 60s, I am proud that some of the songs I sang made their way into the rock lexicon,” she said.

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, the most mainstream of the new inductees, had been nominated for the first time despite years of eligibility.

The journey has pulled in massive audiences with Neal Schon’s guitar anthems such as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a staple of sporting events and political rallies in the English-speaking world.

Schon said he was open to reuniting for the induction with Steve Perry, Journey’s most identifiable voice who has only briefly rejoined since 1987.

“I definitely think that he will be there, as he should be. Musically speaking, I’d love to have him do a song with us — or two, or whatever,” Schon told the blog Ultimate Classic Rock.

Yes is one of the most identifiable bands in progressive rock, the 1970s movement that showcased technical skills and jazz-inspired improvisation.

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

The band on Facebook dedicated the honour to bassist Chris Squire — the band’s sole consistent member, who died last year.

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.