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More than a quarter century after they brought hard rock back to the top of the heap, the original lineup of legendary Los Angeles band Guns N’ Roses will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. Guns were among the acts named on Wednesday as the Class of 2012, which includes fellow L.A. rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers, iconic New York rap trio the Beastie Boys, 1960s pop singer Laura Nyro, the Small Faces (and their later Rod Stewart-led incarnation, the Faces), as well as mellow 1960s singer Donovan.
Also on the roster for the induction ceremony, which will take place on April 14 in Cleveland and air on HBO in early May, is early influence blues guitarist Freddie King and nonperformer Don Kirshner, who created the Archies and Monkees and hosted the long-running live-music TV show “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.”
Among those passed over this year were the Cure, Joan Jett, Heart and hip-hip duo Eric B. & Rakim. Acts become eligible for the Hall 25 years after the release of their first single or album, so this year’s crop all started releasing music in or before the year 1986.
Led by the mercurial lead singer Axl Rose, GN’R re-invented hard rock with 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, which featured such indelible glam-punk hits as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “It’s So Easy.” The band splintered a decade later amid a clash of egos, disagreement over musical direction and drug issues that resulted in Rose soldiering on alone with a parade of replacement sidemen.
Before their induction was announced, buzz had already begun to build around a potential reunion between legendarily unfriendly co-founders Rose and guitarist Slash as well as the rest of the classic line-up, which included rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler. Rose is currently on the road with the new Guns.
The Beastie Boys have been mixing rock, rap, soul, punk and funk for more than 30 years, helping to cross hip-hip over into the mainstream in a major way with their bratty 1986 full-length debut, License to Ill, rap’s first #1 album. After providing drunken anthems for a generation thanks to “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To) Party,” and “Brass Monkey,” they followed up with 1989’s head-tripping Paul’s Boutique, which set a new standard for artistry in sampling. They’ve continued to rock the mic over the course of five more studio albums, including this year’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
Funk-punk lifers the Red Hot Chili Peppers formed in Los Angeles in 1983 and released their self-titled debut the next year. Formed around the core of hyperkinetic singer Anthony Kiedis, high-energy bassist Flea, late guitarist Hillel Slovak and former drummer Jack Irons, the band made a name for itself with a spastic combo of funk, punk, hard rock and hip-hop, graduating from an underground fanbase to worldwide stardom and Grammy-winning albums thanks to such landmark tracks as “Give It Away,” “Under the Bridge” and “Scar Tissue.”
Like the Who, English mod rockers the Small Faces were heavily influenced by American R&B, which they explored on signature songs “Itchycoo Park,” “Lazy Sunday” and “All or Nothing.” In their second phase as the Faces, members included future Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood and singer Rod Stewart.
Late singer/songwriter Laura Nyro was just 19 when she recorded her debut in 1966, the same year folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary recorded her song, “And When I Die.” The fragile singer with an eclectic style wrote a string of songs that became hits for other acts, including “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Blowin’ Away.” She also scored her own hit with Carole King’s “Up on the Roof.”
Psychedelic Folkie Donovan Leitch scored a number of hits in the 1960s, including “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” Dissension has become one of the reliable side stories of the Rock Hall ceremonies. While such notoriously splintered acts as Led Zeppelin and the Talking Heads managed to set aside differences for one night (Blondie, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Van Halen not so much), the biggest question this year is whether Rose will make nice with his estranged former bandmates. There are also question marks over whether the Beastie Boys will perform, as the group have eschewed public appearances since the July 2009 revelation that member Adam “MCA” Yauch was undergoing treatment for cancer of the salivary gland in the throat.
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