Published March 14, 2011
Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and Tom Waits lead the latest class to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, joined by piano maestros Leon Russell and Dr. John and 1960s singer Darlene Love.
Their work was to be celebrated at the annual Waldorf Astoria black-tie dinner, then in perpetuity at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. A tape of the ceremony is to air March 20 on Fuse.
The Brooklyn-born Diamond wrote pop-rock hits for himself ("Solitary Man") and others (The Monkees' "I'm a Believer"). Presidential daughter Caroline Kennedy was the inspiration for "Sweet Caroline." He settled into a comfortable career as a middle-of-the-road concert favorite, although he made some challenging recordings in recent years with producer Rick Rubin.
Another New Yorker, singer Paul Simon, was to induct Diamond.
Alice Cooper is the stage name for both singer Vincent Furnier and his band, known for 1970s era hard rock songs "Eighteen," "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Schools Out." The band's concerts were steeped in horror movie theatrics, and singer Rob Zombie was to salute it Monday.
Songwriter Tom Waits is well-versed in blues, poetry and ballads, with songs rough and romantic. Several of his hall of fame predecessors have recorded his work, including Bruce Springsteen ("Jersey Girl"), the Ramones ("I Don't Want to Grow Up"), Rod Stewart ("Downtown Train") and Johnny Cash ("Down There By the Train"). Another California-based songwriter, Neil Young, was to pay tribute to Waits on Monday.
Russell's long hair and beard gave him a distinctive look, but it's the piano player's songs -- particularly "Delta Lady" and "A Song for You" -- that made him memorable. His career has recently been revived through a collaboration with Elton John, who was to induct him.
Dr. John has become a historian for New Orleans' musical history, to which he's contributed through songs like "Right Place, Wrong Time" with Allen Toussaint and the Meters. Singer John Legend was to induct him.
Love lent her powerful voice to several of producer Phil Spector's hits, in acts like the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Her "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a holiday standard: she sang on U2's cover and performs it every December on David Letterman's show. Bette Midler was to pay tribute.
Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and Specialty Records founder Art Rupe were to be inducted in the non-performer category.
The rock hall has slightly shifted its format this year, doing the inductions first then gathering artists together for performances. In past years, the performances have been interspersed throughout the night.