Defiantly different, this class redefined rock


By GLENN GAMBOA

Like Madonna, the rest of this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class stretched the definition of rock in a variety of directions and changed the music of their times.

Leonard Cohen — First known as a poet, then a singer-songwriter, Cohen’s dramatic, literary songs in the late ‘60s, especially “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag,” set him as a Canadian Bob Dylan. The songs on his stunning comebacks in the ‘80s, on “Various Positions” and “I’m Your Man,” continue to be rediscovered today, as Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” or U2’s version of “Tower of Song” lead fans to Cohen’s originals. Lou Reed will induct Cohen.

The Dave Clark Five — The Beatles’ early “British Invasion” rivals, they landed 24 hits on the American charts in less than four years, from 1964 to 1968, including top pop hits “Glad All Over” and “Over and Over.” Tom Hanks will induct singer-drummer Dave Clark, singer-keyboardist Mike Smith, guitarist Lenny Davidson, bassist Rick Huxley and saxophonist Denis Payton. A special tribute to Smith, who died of pneumonia Feb. 28, is planned.

John Mellencamp — The Indiana rocker known for little ditties about Jack and Diane and little pink houses for you and me, Mellencamp arrived in the late ‘70s as John Cougar, the Midwest’s answer to New Jersey’s Bruce Springsteen. From “Hurts So Good” to “Small Town” to “The Authority Song,” Mellencamp was the champion for the heartland, which continues today, leading to the popularity of his songs among this year’s presidential candidates’ campaigns. Billy Joel will induct Mellencamp.

The Ventures — The most successful band in rock ‘n’ roll history to do nothing but instrumentals, spanning styles ranging from surf to psychedelic to pop, with hits including “Walk — Don’t Run” and the theme from “Hawaii Five-O.” John Fogerty will induct guitarists Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Don Wilson and drummer Mel Taylor.

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff — The architects of “The Philly Sound,” responsible for hits from the O’Jays; McFadden and Whitehead, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, will be inducted as nonperformers by Jerry Butler.

Little Walter — The harmonica master, best known for his work with Muddy Waters, and his solo hit “Juke” in 1952, will be inducted in the Sidemen category by Ben Harper.

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