NEW YORK (Reuters) - Madonna spoke of being possessed by magic as she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday along with Leonard Cohen, rocker John Mellencamp, British pop band The Dave Clark Five and instrumental group The Ventures.
“I felt like I had been possessed by some magic and luckily for me I have been miraculously and continuously possessed by some kind of magic,” Madonna said at the annual Hall of Fame ceremony in New York.
“I have gone on to do so many things in my life, from writing children’s books, to designing clothes, to directing a film. But for me it always does, and it always will, come back to the music, so thank you,” she said.
Madonna, 49, was inducted by pop star Justin Timberlake, who has co-written and co-produced half the songs on her new album “Hard Candy,” which is released next month. “Nobody has gotten into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame looking this damn fine,” he said. “You’re no old museum piece.”
Madonna made her debut in 1982 and her first album “Madonna,” including hits such as “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star,” helped her become one of the best-selling pop artists, with more then 200 million albums sold worldwide.
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.
While The Dave Clark Five and Mellencamp had been nominated before, this was the first year Madonna was eligible. Iggy & The Stooges performed rock versions of her pop hits “Burning Up” and “Ray of Light” after her induction.
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 being a starving artist.
“This is a very unlikely occasion for me. It is not a distinction that I coveted or even dared dream about,” he said before reciting the lyrics to “Tower of Song” from his 1988 album “I‘m Your Man.” He was inducted by Lou Reed.
The five artists inducted were 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.
For 1960s British band The Dave Clark Five -- Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton and Mike Smith -- the induction is bittersweet. Lead singer Smith died last month from pneumonia and Payton died from cancer in 2006.
“It would have been lovely if it had been all five of us here,” Clark told reporters backstage before the band were inducted by actor Tom Hanks. “I know they will be smiling down on us and they will be very proud.”
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.
Songwriting and producing team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, architects of the Philly Soul sound of the 1970s, were inducted in the non-performer category, while musician Ben Harper inducted the late Little Walter in the “sideman” category for his pioneering use of the microphone that helped establish the modern blues harmonica.
Billy Joel inducted Mellencamp, who released his first album in 1976 and has often sung about the flawed American dream. The Hall of Fame foundation dubbed him a “symbol of the hopes, struggles and passions of America’s heartland.”
“I’ve been an total walking contradiction my entire career and I intend to stay that way,” Mellencamp said. “I never cared about having hit records, but I always wanted to hear my songs on the radio.”
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.
Editing by Stuart Grudgings