Rock Hall of Fame inducts Clash, Police, Elvis Costello

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

NEW YORK -- The Clash, the Police, and Elvis Costello & the Attractions -- three bands born of the fertile British punk movement of the late 1970s -- got their due Monday from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The thunderous roar of AC/DC and the blue-eyed soul of the Righteous Brothers also were being inducted at the annual ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

"It's a very good night to be British because three of the finest acts of the last 30 years came out of Britain and three are here to be honored," said singer Elton John.

John, his hair teased in a punk rock style and playfully tossing expletives, inducted Costello and the Attractions, his threepiece backing band. Costello and his new band, the Impostors, played a ferocious version of his hit, "Pump It Up."

"When we first started out, we had 35 minutes of music," Costello said. "On a good night we could get it down to 25."

Costello's keyboard player, Steve Nieve, issued a plea for peace on the eve of potential war with Iraq. Costello and the Impostors performed "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" before leaving the Waldorf Astoria stage to a keyboard whine.

The Clash burned bright and fast, starting with explosive punk rock and then incorporating funk, reggae and rap. The 1979 album "London Calling" is a critical favorite, and their biggest hits, "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go," came just before the original lineup broke up in 1983.

No reunion

Hopes for a reunion at the Hall of Fame induction were dashed when lead singer Joe Strummer died of a heart attack on Dec. 22.

As for the Police, Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland cut their hair short and dyed it blonde to fit in with British punks. But their music, including the reggae-tinged "Roxanne," moved quickly beyond their peers.

The 1983 album "Synchronicity," propelled by the ominous "Every Breath You Take," sold more than 10 million copies. The Police quit on top, although Sting has maintained an active solo career.

The Police were scheduled to reunite and perform three songs.

AC/DC's signature is guitarist Angus Young's schoolboy outfit and stutter-step dancing. The Australian hard rockers' 1980 album, "Back in Black," with the party anthem "You Shook Me All Night Long," came after the death of singer Bon Scott, who was replaced by Brian Johnson.

Singer Billy Joel inducted Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley -- the Righteous Brothers, whose smooth hits "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin"' and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" graced radio in the mid-1960s.

"Sometimes people with blue eyes transcended the limitations of what their color and culture can actually be," Joel said. "Sometimes white people can actually be soulful. This was a life-changing idea. It changed my life."

The Righteous Brothers were disciples of legendary producer Phil Spector, usually a fixture at the rock hall dinners.

Three veteran session musicians -- Benny Benjamin, Floyd Cramer and Steve Douglas -- received posthumous honors as sidemen Monday. Mo Ostin, longtime Warner Brothers Records chief, won a lifetime achievement award.

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