Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers and more Descend on Cleveland
On Saturday, April 14, at Public Hall in downtown Cleveland, the 27th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place. The tradition began with inductees like Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley and Ohio’s own Alan Freed. Here’s a rundown of some of this year’s class.
GUNS N’ ROSES – 1987 was the year of Prozac, “The Simpsons” and Guns N’ Roses’ debut LP “Appetite for Destruction.” Before airwaves buzzed with “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City,” GNR was just another hair band trying to make it in L.A.’s club scene. The band shied away from the polished, glamorous songs of their peers, opting to produce gritty, guitar-driven rock. Frontman Axl Rose and guitarist Slash quickly became celebrities. Though the band experienced ups and downs during the ’90s and ’00s, they remain one of the most frequently played bands on radio.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Hollywood gave birth to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1988, with the help of guitar prodigy John Frusciante, that the band hit its stride. In 1991, the Peppers released “BloodSugarSexMagik,” which hit platinum multiple times with its unique fusion of metal and hip-hop. Impressively, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have continued to grow musically throughout their lifetime, with hits like “Give it Away,” “Otherside,” “Scartissue” and “Under the Bridge.”
DONOVAN – Donovan Philips Leitch is a Scottish singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the U.K. in the mid-’60s. His distinctive style combined several genres, including jazz, folk and pop. His music eventually embraced the Transcendental Meditation movement. Donovan is one of the only musical artists to ever collaborate with The Beatles, and it’s rumored that he taught finger-picking guitar techniques to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Donovan’s hits include “Season of the Witch,” “Catch the Wind,” “Colours” and “To Try for the Sun.”
BEASTIE BOYS – The hip-hop world changed in 1986 when the Beastie Boys released their debut album, “Licensed to Ill.” Though the band’s hard-rock-inspired hip-hop appeared on the scene at roughly the same time as the Run DMC’s iconic “Walk this Way,” the Beastie Boys’ song “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” became the anthem of the ’80s. The band’s work has since become canonical in the rap and hip-hop world, and they’ve paved the way for artists like LMFAO, Linkin Park and the Gorillaz.
THE MIRACLES – 1960s doo-wop and rhythm-and-blues wouldn’t be the same without Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Robinson is known as having one of the most profound voices in popular music, but The Miracles were talented in their own right. The group’s 1960 breakthrough song was “Shop Around,” which hit No. 1 on R&B charts. Other singles followed, including “You Really Got a Hold on Me”, “I Second that Emotion” and “The Tracks of My Tears.”
LAURA NYRO – Laura Nyro was only 19 when she recorded her debut album, “More Than a New Discovery.” She was a singer and accomplished pianist, but what made her best-known was her songwriting. She sold her songs to artists like Peter, Paul and Mary, Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand. She continued writing songs and recording albums until her death from ovarian cancer in 1997.
THE CRICKETS – The Crickets were Buddy Holly’s band from 1956 to 1958, the period in Holly’s career when he was his hottest. Though Holly was the group’s fulcrum, the Crickets contributed to his sound. Guitarist Sonny Curtis, drummer Jerry Allison and bassist Don Guess, all from Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, were all members of the group that Holly wanted closely resemble Elvis Presley’s. The Crickets were the group who cut Buddy Holly’s breakout hit, “That’ll Be the Day.”
THE COMETS – “Rock Around the Clock” was a massive hit in the 1950s, igniting the fire that would soon become rock ’n’roll. The song topped Billboard’s pop chart for eight weeks. The Comets were fronted by Bill Haley, who was inducted in 1987. In 1956, Bill Haley and His Comets even starred in a movie titled “Rock Around the Clock,” which featured the band performing nine songs.
THE FAMOUS FLAMES – James Brown was inducted in 1986, and this year his backup singers are getting the recognition they deserve. The Famous Flames served as Brown’s backup vocalists from 1953 until the group disbanded in 1968. Without one of the Famous Flames, James Brown may not have even made it onto the music scene: Bobby Byrd discovered Brown during a prison-team baseball game. (Brown was serving time for armed robbery, but due to Byrd and his family, he was released in 1952.)