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Rock’s Latest Immortals: Guns N’ Roses, Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys

There’s a “Paradise City” all right—it’s called Cleveland.

Hard rock revivalists Guns N’ Roses, alternative funk-metal  outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers and hip-hop legends the Beastie Boys are among the music acts tapped for induction next  year in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was announced this morning.

But they’re not the only ones

Joining them in the class of 2012 will be the late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro, Scottish folk icon Donovan,  English pschedelic group the Small Faces (which later morphed  into The Faces featuring Rod  Stewart), and guitarist Freddie King, who made the  cut in the sideman category.

During their heyday in the late ’80s/early ’90s, Guns N’ Roses initiated a  hard rock revival that pushed aside the glam bands that turned the genre into a  parody of itself and paved the way for the the latter decade’s rock resurgence  with the birth of grunge.

Led by volatile frontman Axl Rose and lead axeman Slash, whose wicked guitar solos drove many of the band’s early  hits including “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise  City,” the original lineup produced a multiplatinum smash with their now classic  1987 debut album, Appetite for Destruction.

They soon followed that with the EP G N’ R Lies, which spawned the  ubiquitous ballad “Patience,” but shortly after recording their magnum opus  double LP Use Your Illusion I and II, the quintet  self-destructed from drug problems and the members’ alienation due to what they  considered was Rose’s increasingly erratic and controlling behavior—both onstage  and off. By the late ’90s, Guns N’ Roses was down to its singer, who spent the  next 15 years resurrecting the band with various substitute Gunners before  finally releasing their latest effort, Chinese Democracy, in 2008.

Despite suffering their own lineup changes over the years, one thing that’s  remained a constant with the Chili Peppers has been vocalist Anthony  Kiedis and bass player Flea, who arguably did their  best work with guitarist John Frusciante. That includes 1989’s Mother’s Milk, which featured a scorching cover of Stevie  Wonder‘s “Higher Ground “; 1991’s seminal Blood Sugar Sex  Magik, which gave the world “Under the Bridge” and “Suck My Kiss”; and  1999’s Californication, whose laidback title track is a Peppers  staple.

As for the Beastie Boys, the trio of Mike Diamond (Mike D), Adam Yauch (MCA) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock)  are proof of hip-hop’s longevity, not to mention an expansion beyond its  African-American roots. The New York City-bred rappers scored the first No. 1  hip-hop album with 1986’s License to Ill, much of that on the strength  of “You Gotta Fight for Your Right (to Party)” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”

Nyro, a gifted pianist and composer who hailed from the Bronx, wrote numerous  tunes that were recorded by such artists as Barbra  Streisand, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the 5th Dimension before striking out on her own in the late  ’60s/early ’70s and skyrocketing up the charts with such singles as “Up on the  Roof.”

Donovan is best known for his ’60s folk-pop contributions, including “Catch  the Wind” and “Sunshine Superman” and influencing the likes of John  Lennon and Paul McCartney, among  others.

Famed music producer and promoter Don Kirshner, who  died  last January, also received a Hall Pass in the nonperformer  category for  launching the so-called Brill Building group of songwriters  including Carol King and Neil Sedaka through his company  Aldon Music.

Of course, what’s always fascinating about the  Rock Hall’s selections  is who got left out. Among the artists getting the shaft this year include Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, The Cure, Heart and Rufus with Chaka Khan.

The annual ceremony will take place on April 14 in Cleveland.




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