Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (search) are among the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the first rap artists to get that distinction — joining U2, Randy Newman and the O'Jays on the ballot.

Getting his start as a DJ at Bronx parties in the late 1970s, Grandmaster Flash later joined with the Furious Five for the social commentary of "The Message" and "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" (search).

Other nominees include blues guitarist Buddy Guy, rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, rock band the Pretenders, soul singer Percy Sledge, "Centerfold" (search) singers the J. Geils Band and the late country singer Conway Twitty.

Previous nominees on the ballot: the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, the Stooges, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gram Parsons.

Singers of "Back Stabbers" and a string of other soulful hits, the O'Jays had their chart heyday in the 1970s. A singer of satirical songs like "Short People," Newman is now one of the Hollywood's most successful composers of movie music.

Musicians, industry professionals and journalists vote, and results of the 20th annual election will likely be announced in December. Artists are eligible to be inducted into the Rock Hall after at least 25 years have passed since their first record was released.