Bay Area Band Immortalized Among Rock's Elite

Bay Area band enters Rock and Roll HOF

Hello, Cleveland. It's been a while. Just as Derek Smalls, the fictional bassist for Spinal Tap yelled as he and his band mates stumbled around backstage looking for a Cleveland stage in the iconic rockumentary, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony found its way back to this self-proclaimed rock capital on Saturday. And the night was expected to be loud, rowdy and
spontaneous — more rock concert than scripted celebration.

Back in Cleveland for the first time since 1997, the no-holds-barred show, previously held in New York's Waldorf-Astoria, was open to the public. Nearly 5,000 fans crammed the balconies inside renovated Public Auditorium and overlooked the 1,200 VIPs paying as much as $50,000 for a table. Heavy metal heroes Metallica, whose menacing sound has inspired headbangers for nearly three decades, headlined the eclectic 2009 class that included rap pioneers Run-DMC, virtuoso guitarist Jeff Beck, soul singer Bobby Womack and rhythm and blues vocal group Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson will be inducted as an early influence. Drummer DJ Fontana and the late bassist Bill Black — both of Elvis Presley's backup band — and keyboardist Spooner Oldham will enter in the sidemen category. "It will be crazy," Metallica producer Steve Thompson said. "We're setting history.

It brings a new dimension to the Hall of Fame, going from Jeff Beck to Metallica." On a sunny, chilly evening, fans stood behind
barricades along the red carpet, screaming as rock stars past and present arrived. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, who will present Beck, received the loudest ovation. He was soon followed by Metallica presenter, Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who served as his own roadie by carrying his guitar case. For Metallica, whose members have survived some of the darkness found in their raging music, the event was also serving as a family reunion. Bassist Jason Newsted, who left the band in 2001, accepted an invitation to rejoin his band mates for the big gig.

"It's still somewhat surreal," Metallica singer-guitarist James Hetfield said. "The other part of it will be us kicking in the door a little bit. We've got a lot of other friends that we'd like to bring in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There's a lot of heavy music that belongs in there."

Metallica flew in following two shows in Paris for the induction. The San Francisco-based band invited hundreds of family members, friends and associates and purchased six tables inside the historic downtown venue where the Beatles performed in 1964. For all their greatness, John, Paul, George and Ringo never cranked up the amps like Metallica.

The band's 1983 debut "Kill 'Em All" sent a depth charge through the stale U.S. metal scene and first introduced to the masses the group's themes of death, destruction and desolation. An early epic body of work that includes "Master of Puppets," "And Justice For All" and "The Black Album" with monster guitar riffs and jackhammer back beats separated Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, original bassist Cliff Burton — killed in a tour bus accident in 1986 — and his replacement, Newsted, from the rest of the thrashing pack. Burton's tragic death was the first of several career-defining moments for Metallica, which has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Newsted quit; the band had a drawn-out legal fight with Napster over illegal music downloads, and Hetfield, seriously burned in a pyrotechnics accident on stage in 1992, battled alcohol and substance abuse. Run-DMC may not share Metallica's style, but they do share its genre-defining influence.

Raised on the streets of Hollis, a Queens neighborhood in New York City, Run-DMC was much more than two turntables and two microphones. In the 1980s, the trio of Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell altered rap's sound, popularized its fashion and gave hip-hop mainstream credibility. Run-D.M.C. is only the
second hip-hop act to get into the Rock Hall, following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 2007. Any chance of a Run reunion ended with Mizell's death in 2002, when he was shot to death outside his studio. His murder remains unsolved.

The trio's collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of the rock group's "Walk This Way" took rap from the cities to the suburbs and created a new musical blend mimicked but rarely matched. Sporting Adidas sneakers with no laces, Kangol hats and gold rope chains, Run-DMC had the look — and the rhymes.

A musician's musician, Beck is one of rock's guitar gods. But just as his fingers effortlessly scaled the length of his instrument's
fretboard, he has dabbled in musical styles ranging from blues to jazz to electronica. Beck was being honored for his solo work. He was previously inducted with the Yardbirds in 1992.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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