Patti Smith and the dysfunctional Van Halen -- some of the band, anyway -- as well as R.E.M. and the Ronettes were slated for induction in the annual ceremony, too. It was being streamed on the Web and televised live on VH1 Classic for the first time.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, including vocalist Melle Mel, leads the rap revolution at the rock hall. Their Reagan era hit "The Message" was a milestone message from urban America. Jay-Z was lined up for the induction speech.
With 25 years needing to pass between an act's first recording and rock hall eligibility, it means the vanguard of hip-hop stars will become eligible in coming years.
Van Halen was expected to cash in on its induction with a summer concert tour with ex-lead singer David Lee Roth back in the fold to sing songs like "Panama" and "Jump."
But the tour plans were canceled, and guitarist Eddie Van Halen said earlier this month that he was entering rehab for unspecified reasons.
Roth wasn't expected at Monday's ceremony following an apparent tiff over what he would perform. He wanted to sing "Jump" and backing band Velvet Revolver, which had planned "You Really Got Me," said it couldn't get it together in time.
"We offered him opportunities to play and sing a Van Halen song of his choice with our house band, including his own guitar player, or a song with Velvet Revolver, and he refused those opportunities," said Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "We made every effort and the decision to come was solely his, not ours."
The only Van Halen members who were expected to attend were Roth's replacement Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony, who was just kicked out of the band.
No such drama was anticipated for R.E.M., only a happy reunion: drummer Bill Berry, who had left the band in 1997 after suffering an aneurysm onstage two years earlier, rehearsed to perform on Monday.
R.E.M. largely invented the indie rock scene out of Athens, Ga., in the early 1980s. Critical hits like "Radio Free Europe" gave way to mainstream hits like "Losing My Religion" in the early 1990s. The band is still active as a trio with Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills.
One of Stipe's heroes was Smith, the bohemian poet who straddled the hippie and punk rock eras. Her album "Horses" set a standard for literate rock and she had a radio hit with the Bruce Springsteen-penned "Because the Night."
New Yorker Smith wrote in The New York Times Monday of her early ambivalence toward the honor.
"In the end it was my neighbors who put everything in perspective," she wrote. "An approving nod from the old Italian woman who sells me pasta. An embrace from the notary and his wife. And a shout from the sanitation man driving down my street: `Hey, Patti, Hall of Fame. One for us."'
The Ronettes were among the leading practitioners of the 1960s girl group style. The song "Be My Baby" is an example of producer Phil Spector's "wall of sound" approach. He was also married for a time to its lead singer, Ronnie Spector.
With Rolling Stone Keith Richards due to induct them -- and an open bar -- the Ronettes' presentation could be among the night's most interesting.