NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pop star Madonna, folk singer Leonard Cohen, rocker John Mellencamp, British pop band The Dave Clark Five and instrumental group The Ventures will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday.
The five artists have been chosen by 600 music industry professionals, and beat out disco queen Donna Summer, New York-based funk group Chic, rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and hip-hop group The Beastie Boys for the 23rd annual induction.
Artists become eligible for the Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first single or album and are represented in an exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The 2008 inductees are trailblazers — all unique and influential in their genres,” said Joel Peresman, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation president. “From poetry to pop, these five acts demonstrate the rich diversity of rock and roll.”
For ‘60s British band The Dave Clark Five — Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton and Mike Smith — the induction will be bittersweet after lead singer Smith, 64, died late last month from pneumonia. He had been paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a spinal cord injury in 2003.
“He was extremely excited and honored to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I am glad that he will be remembered as a Hall of Famer because he was in so many ways,” Smith’s agent, Margo Lewis, said when he died.
The Dave Clark Five topped the British charts in 1965 with “Glad All Over” and were described by the foundation as “an enormous pop phenomenon” before disbanding in 1970. The group has sold more than 50 million albums to date.
The band will be inducted by actor Tom Hanks and there will be a special performance in its honor.
While The Dave Clark Five and Mellencamp had been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before, this was the first year Madonna was eligible. She will be inducted by pop star Justin Timberlake and Iggy & The Stooges will perform on her behalf.
Madonna, 49, made her debut in 1982 and her first album “Madonna” included hits such as “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” which helped her become one of the best-selling pop artists, with more then 200 million albums sold worldwide.
Mellencamp released his first album in 1976 and has often sung about the flawed American dream, which led the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation to dub him a “symbol of the hopes, struggles and passions of America’s heartland.”
“I’m very honored and pleased to be recognized this way, especially among people whom I greatly admire,” Mellencamp said on his Web site, www.mellencamp.com. He will be inducted by entertainer Billy Joel and will perform at the ceremony.
Cohen, a gravel-voiced Canadian whose songs tell of love and sex, faith and betrayal, is among the most literary of songwriters. He published four books of poetry and two novels before trying music, partly to escape life as a starving artist.
The foundation described him as “folk rock icon of the singer songwriter movement.” He will be inducted by Lou Reed and Irish folk singer Damien Rice will perform for him.
Hits by the Ventures — Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Mel Taylor, Don Wilson — include “Walk Don’t Run” and “Hawaii Five-O” and the foundation credits the band with defining instrumental guitar rock in the 1960s.
The group will be inducted by John Fogerty and will perform at the New York City ceremony.
Along with the five performers, the songwriting and producing team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff will be inducted in the non-performer category and the late Little Walter in the “sideman” category for his “pioneering use of the microphone (that) helped establish the modern blues harmonica.”