NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pop star Madonna, folk rock singer songwriter Leonard Cohen, rock hit John Mellencamp, pop group The Dave Clark Five and instrumental rockers The Ventures will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
The five inductees, announced on Thursday and chosen by 600 music industry professionals, 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 honor.
“The five inductees we’re very proud of,” Joel Peresman, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation president, said. “It really truly represents the wide spectrum of what rock and roll is all about.”
Artists become eligible for the Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first single or album and are represented at a permanent exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sixties British band The Dave Clark Five -- Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton and Mike Smith -- and Mellencamp have been nominated previously, but this was the first year Madonna was eligible to be honored.
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.
“(The voters) don’t really look at album sales and ticket sales as being the defining category of why someone gets inducted, it’s really their influence and their place in history,” Peresman said.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation describes Canadian Leonard Cohen, also an acclaimed poet and novelist, as “folk rock icon of the singer songwriter movement” who is among the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.”
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 Ventures -- Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Mel Taylor, Don Wilson -- from Seattle, hits include “Walk Don’t Run” and “Hawaii Five-O” and the foundation credits the band with defining instrumental guitar rock in the 1960s.
The foundation dubbed Mellencamp “a symbol of the hopes, struggles and passions of America’s heartland” with several songs like “Hurts So Good,” “Pink Houses” and “I Need A Lover” that have “transcended hit status ... and entered the cultural vernacular.”
Along with the five performer inductees, producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff will be inducted in the non-performer category and the late Little Walter in the so-called “sideman” category for his “pioneering use of the microphone (that) helped establish the modern blues harmonica.”
The inductees with honored at a ceremony in New York on March 10.
Editing by Jackie Frank