NEW YORK, April 9, (Agencies): The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was inducting a new class of music greats Friday, honoring a diverse range of artists from gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A. to hard rockers Deep Purple. Younger artists, loyal fans and the occasional protester turned out for the gala concert taking place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center arena rather than the Hall of Fame’s Cleveland home. Two chart-topping bands from the Midwest, Chicago and Cheap Trick, and psychedelic bluesman Steve Miller are also being inducted in the ceremony, which HBO will broadcast on April 30.
The concert kicked off with a tribute to the recently deceased Hall of Fame star David Bowie, as David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, Kimbra and The Roots performed a rendition of his song “Fame.” N.W.A. is the first hip-hop act in the Hall of Fame to hail from the West Coast, where the group emerged at the forefront of the gangsta rap genre that produced dark tales of street life. Kendrick Lamar, the introspective 28-year-old rapper from N.W.A.’s home of Compton, California, was scheduled to introduce the group.
It was selected after its fourth nomination, which came in the glow of the Hollywood biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” N.W.A. — which stands for “Niggaz With Attitudes” — stunned much of white America in 1988 with “Police” a no-holds-barred indictment of white officers’ treatment of young African Americans. Ice Cube, who moved on to a successful solo career, said that N.W.A. would appear at the ceremony with Dr Dre, who went on to become a multimillionaire Apple executive and skipped a one-off reunion last year.
But Ice Cube said the group would not perform together because organizers did not cooperate over logistics. In the spirit of N.W.A, dozens of protesters picketed outside the Barclays Center with the sign “Straight Outta Brooklyn” accusing the arena of worsening gentrification that has forced low-income families out of their homes.
The Barclays Center, in which Brooklyn-bred rap mogul Jay-Z was an early investor, opened in 2012 and is home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. Deep Purple is the last in the trio of foundational British hard-rock acts to enter the Hall of Fame after Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
But the induction will not mark a reunion with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who is responsible for one of rock’s most memorable opening lines with the heavy but bluesy riff in “Smoke on the Water.”
Singer Ian Gillan said the Hall of Fame event would have been the only chance for a reunion. Blackmore, who left the band in 1993, said he was staying away because the current Deep Purple did not want him.
Gillan hinted that Blackmore was welcome but that he should not perform as a sign of respect to more recent band members who were not included in the induction. Chicago, who adapted the jazz heritage of the band’s namesake city to become soft rock chart-toppers, is performing without singer Peter Cetera, who left in 1985 to pursue a solo career and said he failed to work out arrangements with the Hall of Fame.
Rob Thomas of rockers Matchbox Twenty will introduce Chicago. The 44-year-old said he grew up listening to the band and knew “if I pulled out a Chicago record, I was going to get laid in high school.” Thomas said he appreciated the variety of artists being honored in 2016, dismissing criticism by some diehard rockers that rappers such as N.W.A. do not belong in the Hall of Fame.
“Rock and roll is not sunglasses and a leather jacket, it’s a state of mind,” he told reporters. Garage rockers The Black Keys were set to induct Steve Miller, who was born in Wisconsin but soaked up San Francisco’s cultural mix in the 1960s.
Miller mixed blues and jazz with roots Americana and won commercial success with his 1973 song “The Joker.”
He still plays regularly at age 72 and devotes much of his time to guiding the musical instrument collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Singer Rob Thomas, while inducting Chicago, indicated that Chicago was tougher and more innovative than people had given them credit for. He joined the band for a verse of “Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is?”
“If you think Chicago was your mom’s band, man I want to party with your mom,” Thomas said.
The pride of Rockford, Illinois, Cheap Trick’s career soared in the late 1970s when a live album recorded before a gleeful Japanese audience added excitement to tracks like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.” Turning up the volume for the night, they performed both songs.
They were inducted by a fellow Midwesterner, Detroit’s Kid Rock, who noted that most bands in attendance that night consider themselves great live acts.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich described seeing the night’s first inductees, Deep Purple, when he was nine years old and taken to their concert in Copenhagen. He said it changed his life.
LOS ANGELES: Rock star Bruce Springsteen on Friday canceled a weekend concert in North Carolina to protest a new state law barring transgender people from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, as country music stars decried similar legislation proposed in Tennessee.
Springsteen, whose lyrics and actions have earned him a reputation for low-key political activism, said canceling the concert was the strongest way for him to show his opposition.
“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” he said in an online statement.
Fans will receive refunds for tickets to the concert that was scheduled for Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina, it said.
The US South has been the epicenter of a backlash to a US Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriage.
This year, more than a dozen states have considered laws that would restrict bathroom access for transgender people, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said Bruce Springsteen and the band canceled their North Carolina concert because of the state’s new law blocking anti-discrimination rules for the LGBT community, the kind of legislation that’s like an “evil virus” spreading around the US.
Van Zandt told The Associated Press Friday night the decision was made not to perform Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina, because of the law, which critics say discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.