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Ramones, Tom Petty, Talking Heads To Join Rock Hall

A few punks, a scruffy “Refugee” and the most sex-crazed chef on television are crashing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Punk rock pioneers the Ramones and Talking Heads, Southern rockers Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and soul singer Isaac Hayes will lead the class of 2002 when they are inducted into the rock hall on March 18, organizers announced Thursday (December 13).

Other artists recognized include ’60s icons Brenda Lee and Gene Pitney, guitar great Chet Atkins, and Stax Records co-founder Jim Stewart. Atkins, who crafted the sound of country music before moving on to record with Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, is a “side-man” inductee, while Stewart is a “non-performer” inductee. Stewart’s Stax Records released countless R&B and soul hits throughout the ’60s and ’70s.

Two members of the class of 2002 succumbed to cancer this year – Ramones singer Joey Ramone in April and Atkins in June.

Artists whose names were on the ballot but were not voted into the hall include first-time contenders the Sex Pistols, Jackson Browne, alt-country maverick Gram Parsons, R&B girl group the Chantels, and doo-wop acts the Dells and the “5” Royales. Past nominees who again did not garner enough votes include AC/DC, Patti Smith and Lynyrd Skynyrd (see “Spirit Of ’77: Ramones, Pistols Nominated For Hall Of Fame”).

Those set to enter next year will be invited to perform at the 17th annual induction ceremony in New York (although the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland). VH1 will broadcast the event, which traditionally culminates with an all-star jam session, on March 20.

The Ramones, arguably the first punk band, formed in the mid-’70s with all five members adopting the same surname and look. Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone and Marky Ramone played loud, fast rock music that inspired everyone from U2 to Green Day. Among the gems on their nearly two dozen albums are “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

More experimental than the Ramones but from the same New York scene, Talking Heads mixed punk rock with new wave and helped establish the genre now known as alternative rock. David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and Tina Weymouth made eccentric music but also scored several hit singles, including “Once in a Lifetime,” “And She Was” and “Burning Down the House.”

Petty and his Heartbreakers band – Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch and Howie Epstein – combined psychedelic and new wave influences with Southern rock and recorded numerous hit singles, such as “Breakdown,” “Refugee,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Hayes was a songwriter for the likes of Sam & Dave and Carla Thomas before he launched a solo career in the late ’60s. Perhaps his biggest contribution to music was recording the blueprint for future blaxploitation film scores with “Shaft.” Hayes has since become well known as the voice of Chef on “South Park.”

Artists become eligible for the rock hall 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include “the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” according to the hall.

The selection process for the class of 2002 began in the spring when around 60 industry professionals including record executives, lawyers, managers, journalists and musicians convened to brainstorm potential nominees. Their list of names was pared down to 16 nominees.

Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Queen, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Solomon Burke, Ritchie Valens, the Flamingos, James Burton and Johnnie Johnson were inducted into the hall earlier this year.

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