Madonna, Mellencamp among inductees
Others included the Dave Clark Five and Leonard Cohen.
NEW YORK (AP) — Philly soul producer Kenny Gamble, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with partner Leon Huff on Monday, invited his audience to answer back his wish for “peace.”
“Thank you so much, because that’s exactly what our music represented,” Gamble told people gathered at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria for the annual ceremony held to induct new members into the Cleveland hall.
Madonna, pop music’s quick-change artist, was among the other inductees with heartland hit maker John Mellencamp, literate songwriter Leonard Cohen, British rockers the Dave Clark Five and surf instrumentalists the Ventures.
Patti LaBelle performed a chandelier-shaking rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” to introduce Gamble and Huff. The songwriters and producers created a lush, melodic brand of soul known for their hometown and performed by a variety of artists.
Gamble cited one: Billy Paul’s tale of the adulterous affair in “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
“There’s a little ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ going on here in New York,” he said to laughter.
He dispelled one rumor. The song “MFSB” stood for mother, father, sister, brother, he insisted. For years, others let their imaginations run wild with the initials.
The annual ceremony was televised live on VH1 Classic.
One odd sign of the times: among the favors distributed to guests at Monday’s dinner was a box of 30 blank CDs, presumably so people wouldn’t have to worry about buying CDs anymore.
The Ventures excelled at what is almost a forgotten art in rock music — the instrumental. Nokie Edwards’ twangy guitar gave the band its distinctive sound. They performed their first hit, “Walk, Don’t Run,” and “Hawaii Five-O.”
John Fogerty recalled how he and fellow members of Creedence Clearwater Revival used to hang out in a garage learning the Ventures’ songs.
“When the Ventures first hit the radio, I would say I was gone,” Fogerty said. “The Ventures went on to record 250 albums. Think about that. These days, some of us would be happy to sell 250 albums.”
Cohen, a Canadian, is one of music’s most highly regarded, if not best-known, songwriters, through pieces like “Suzanne” and the much-covered “Hallelujah.” Damien Rice sang the latter song in tribute.
Lou Reed, who was inducting Cohen, carried a sheaf of papers to the stage and read several examples of Cohen’s lyrics.
“We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is,” Reed said.
Cohen, dressed in a black tux, recited the lyrics to his song “Tower of Song” in a hushed voice.
“This is a very unlikely occasion for me,” he said. “It is not a distinction that I coveted or even dared dream about.”
Madonna Louise Ciccone transplanted herself from Michigan to New York and became not only the queen of pop music during the 1980s and 1990s, but also a cultural icon. “Like a Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Cherish,” “Like a Prayer, “Vogue” and “Ray of Light” are among her many hits.
Although still an active artist with an album due next month, Madonna opted to let fellow Michigan native Iggy Pop perform versions of “Burning Up” and “Ray of Light” for her. Justin Timberlake was to induct her.
Indiana’s Mellencamp quickly ditched the stage name Johnny Cougar and became one of rock ’n’ roll’s most successful artists during the 1980s. “Pink Houses,” “Hurts so Good” and “R.O.C.K. in the USA” are among his energetic hits. Mellencamp also joined with Neil Young and Willie Nelson to form the ongoing Farm Aid charity for American farmers.
The Dave Clark Five followed the Beatles in the original British Invasion, with catchy hits like “Glad All Over.” Led by drummer and songwriter Clark, the band enters the hall at a tragic time: singer Mike Smith died at age 64 of pneumonia less than two weeks ago.
Little Walter, who died in 1968, joins the hall in its sidemen category. He recorded frequently with Muddy Waters in the 1950s.
“He defined an instrument, he defined a sound, he defined a genre,” musician Ben Harper said of Little Walter.