After years of eligibility, Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols and Lynyrd Skynyrd will finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Also slated for induction at the institution’s 21st annual ceremony on March 13th at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel are jazz legend Miles Davis and New York New Wavers Blondie.
A major force in the development of heavy metal, Black Sabbath broke through in 1970 with their self-titled debut. Although critically lambasted, the Birmingham, England, fourpiece went on to move a million records in its first year out in the States — followed by a string of top-selling albums and the band’s only U.S. hit single, 1972’s “Iron Man.” In 1979 frontman Ozzy Osbourne left the group to pursue a solo career — recently capped with his MTV reality show, The Osbournes. With new singer Ronnie James Dio (ex-Rainbow), Sabbath continued their commercial success through the early Eighties before numerous other lineup changes caused the band to falter. The original members reunited in 1997 for a well-received live album and have since headlined Osbourne’s Ozzfest summer tour several times.
Formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1965, Lynyrd Skynyrd became the essential Southern rock band, with hits “Sweet Home Alabama” and the 1973 classic “Free Bird,” a tribute to the recently deceased Duane Allman. The hard-rocking, bluesy group went on to achieve seven Top Twenty pop albums during the Seventies. After singer Ronnie VanZant’s sudden death in a 1977 plane crash, the band split up, but the remaining members reunited in 1991 and toured and recorded for much of the Nineties. (Guitarist Allen Collins became paralyzed in a 1986 car accident, and died of related health complications in 1990.)
Together for just two years in the mid-Seventies, English fourpiece the Sex Pistols were among the loudest, most visible pioneers of punk. Led by Johnny Rotten and styled (safety pins and all) by infamous manager Malcolm McLaren, the Pistols’ aggressive, confrontational rock was embodied by their singles “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen.” Bassist Sid Vicious became the de facto face of punk with his street swagger and his tragic overdose at age twenty-one — after the mysterious stabbing death of his girlfriend at New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel — in 1979.
The most commercially successful group to emerge from the excitement of Seventies New York were New Wavers Blondie, with three Top Twenty albums during that era. Helmed by the charismatic Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, Blondie spawned the classic singles “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another,” “Call Me” and “The Tide Is High.” Their song “Rapture,” featuring a shout-out to Fab 5 Freddy, is now considered an important crossover moment for rap.
Set to be inducted in the non-performer category are A&M Records founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, for launching the successful independent label in 1962. Inductees into the side-man category have yet to be announced.
Approximately 700 music-industry figures vote each year on eligible nominees. Artists are eligible for induction to the Rock Hall twenty-five years after the release of their first album.