Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, Madonna, the Ventures and the Dave Clark Five were officially welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday night at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
As usual, the ceremony was long on music-biz self-congratulatory wanking and short on excitement, but it had moments of poetry and humor, a glimpse of the incendiary spirit that drives the best rock 'n' roll and a dose of inscrutable commentary (thank you, Lou Reed).
First, though, there was an explanation of the rules from Jann S. Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone and chairman of the Rock Hall. He noted that inductees are not eligible for enshrinement until 25 years after releasing their first commercial recording. That allows for a "long period of time to make the judgment that the artist's work has had long-lasting significance and influence in the history of rock," Wenner said, though it still doesn't explain the absence of Alice Cooper, Kiss or Rush.
Wenner also offered a subtext for the Rock Hall's expansive definition of rock 'n' roll, which includes disco, pop and hip-hop. "As rock 'n' roll has grown and broadened its audience and deepened its social impact, it has evolved into a variety of forms," Wenner said. Thus, Madonna.