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NWA join Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Published 09/04/2016

MC Ren, Dr Dre, Ice Cube and DJ Yella from N.W.A appear at the 31st Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (AP)
MC Ren, Dr Dre, Ice Cube and DJ Yella from N.W.A appear at the 31st Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (AP)

NWA have entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - and hit out at some musicians who suggested rappers do not belong there.

The ground-breaking quintet, who helped define the rough streets of Los Angeles in the late 1980s, were inducted at Brooklyn's Barclays Centre alongside 1970s-era rock acts Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple and Steve Miller.

NWA's work tilted the balance toward West Coast rap in the late 1980s on songs like F*** tha Police, Boyz-N-The Hood and Straight Outta Compton.

Following the act's break-up, Dr Dre became one of music's most in-demand producers and a billionaire with a high-tech headphone company, while Ice Cube moves between music and a successful acting career.

Some traditional rockers have resisted the inclusion of rap acts into the Hall of Fame - most prominent among them being Kiss' Gene Simmons, whose band was inducted last year.

MC Ren said: "I want to say to Gene Simmons: hip-hop is here forever. Get used to it."

Ice Cube said rock n' roll is not just a musical style but a spirit that connects people, be they bluesmen or punk rockers.

"Rock n' roll is not conforming to the people who came before you but creating your own path in music and in life," he added.

"That is rock n' roll, and that is us."

Ice Cube turned to Dr Dre, thanking him for letting him hang around and make music with him as a 15-year-old boy. Then he caught himself: "Stay in school, kids, God damn it," he said, to laughter from the audience.

Named after NWA's first album, the movie Straight Outta Compton told the band's story and was one of the biggest box office hits of 2015.

They were inducted by Kendrick Lamar, who said NWA were heroes to him when he was growing up. They "proved to every kid in the ghetto that you could be successful and still have your voice while doing it".

NWA announced just before the event that they would not be performing.

Fellow inductees Chicago were known for a brassy, jazz-rock fusion in their early days, but settled into a comfortable career penning pop hits. Among their favourites were Saturday in the Park, 25 or 6 to 4, Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is? and their smash hit number one single, If You Leave Me Now.

Singer Rob Thomas, while inducting Chicago, indicated that the band was tougher and more innovative than people gave them credit for.

"If you think Chicago was your mom's band, man I want to party with your mom," Thomas said.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich described seeing the night's first inductees, the UK's Deep Purple, when he was nine years old and taken to their concert in Copenhagen. He said it changed his life.

"Almost without exception, every hard rock band of the last 40 years - including mine - traces its lineage back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple," Ulrich said.

"They are always considered equal. In my heart, I am bewildered that they are so late in getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

The band was without one of its founding members, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who stayed away because current members would not agree to play with him. But the inductees regarded him warmly in their speeches and paid tribute musically by performing Smoke on the Water, which features the guitarist's - and the band's - signature riff.

Ulrich said the guitar riff "has actually been banned from playing in music stores to preserve the sanity of the staff".

Steve Miller and his band played his crowd-pleasing hits Fly Like and Eagle, Rock 'n' Me Baby and The Joker.

"If you listened to the radio, you listened to Steve Miller," said the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who inducted Miller with his partner Patrick Carney. He cited Miller's run of hits that also included Jet Airliner and Jungle Love.

Cheap Trick's career soared in the late 1970s when a live album recorded in Japan added excitement to tracks like Surrender and I Want You to Want Me. The band just released a new disc on the Big Machine label.

The hall also inducted songwriter and producer Bert Berns at the ceremony.

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