In one of the slimmest classes since its first year in 1986, the Ramones
, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
, and the Talking Heads
head the 2002 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in their first year of eligibility.
Isaac Hayes, Brenda Lee, and Gene Pitney round out the six inductees. This was Hayes' first time on the ballot, although he was eligible in past years; Lee's third time; and Pitney's seventh. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame usually inducts six-to-eight acts, and it's very rare when only six acts are enshrined -- 16 were on the ballot this year. To be eligible, an act had to have released an album 25 years ago (1976) or earlier.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Final ballot nominees passed over this year were the Sex Pistols
, singer-songwriters Jackson Browne
and Gram Parsons
, doo-wop groups the Dells
and the 5 Royales
, and R&B all-female group the Chantels
(all on the ballot for the first time but eligible in previous years); heavy metal band AC/DC
and punk poetess Patti Smith
(each for the second time); southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd
(third time); and metal veterans Black Sabbath
The "Non-Performer" inductee is Jim Stewart, co-founder of Stax Records, an independent label that was synonymous with R&B and soul music during the '60s and '70s. The label virtually developed contemporary soul music.
The "Side-men" inductee is Chet Atkins, one of the most successful guitar players in the history of popular music. On recording sessions, Atkins played for Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Hank Williams, and others, while his playing style influenced such legends as George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, and Eddie Cochran. In previous years, two or three side-men were inducted.
This year's results show that the Hall of Fame has once again repudiated heavy metal and that punk titans the Ramones, although extremely worthy, might have gotten a sympathy vote due to this year's death of Joey Ramone. In earlier years, the Hall twice bypased the father of punk, Iggy Pop
(and the Stooges). Hayes is the only black artist voted in this year. The Hall also eschewed '50s vocal groups this time around.
The 17th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annual Induction Ceremony will be held March 18 in New York. VH1 will exclusively air the ceremony at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation's nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the "artist" category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of about 1,000 rock experts.