After the Ramones and Talking Heads pried open the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's door for punk and New Wave, their ranks continue to swell. The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and the Police will be inducted into the Hall next year, along with proto-hard rockers AC/DC, and blue-eyed soul hit-makers the Righteous Brothers.
The Police formed as a trio in London in 1977, and the lineup remained unchanged through 1986, when the band officially called it quits, following a hiatus. Singer/bassist Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers released their first album, Outlandos d'Amour
, in 1978 and would record four more including what would be their swan song, 1983's Synchronicity
. Their style, which blended elements of punk, pop, jazz and reggae, earned them nine Top Forty singles, and three of their albums broke into the Top Ten, including the chart-topping Synchronicity
. After Sting's successful first solo album, Dream of the Blue Turtles
, was released in 1985, the band only came together for a few dates on an Amnesty International tour, before going their separate ways.
Just weeks after Police drummer Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone
that a reunion seemed, "very, very unlikely," due to the success of Sting's solo career, the band might be pushed into a one-off return. Earlier this year, the Talking Heads, another estranged new wave band, buried the hatchet and took the stage together to perform several of their hits at their Rock Hall induction.
Though a recent compilation was issued as The Best of Sting and the Police
, Copeland said he wasn't rankled about the separation of star and band. "I think the Police achieved enough so that I don't need to be too sensitive," he said. "I like getting to all those fans Sting has earned by hard work over the last twenty years. I like having Police music exposed to those people. I hear so much snide stuff about Sting. Most of it I hear just because people think they can ingratiate themselves with me by slagging Sting, and I can't tell you how wrong that is. It would do them good to hear some of Sting's own stuff, which I think is great. I'm still susceptible to his harmonic sensibilities, his poetry and every other aspect of it, and, even if he plays with other musicians who wouldn't have done the same thing with the material that I would have done, I still like the material.
While no member of the Clash has enjoyed the same solo success as Sting, the band still remains on ice as the four founding members don't feel they have anything new to say musically. "I think everyone drifts away," Joe Strummer told Rolling Stone
of the group's demise. "We asked ourselves to do a lot. I counted sixteen sides of long-playing vinyl in five years and a thousand gigs and it's too much. We just had to break up, for the sake of sanity, really. Obviously, it's a question that will forever keep popping up. But you have to ask yourself, 'Would it turn out good music? Would it be worthwhile in terms of making a brilliant record? Obviously, financially, we'd be set up for life. But as long as I can keep grinding away and doing really interesting things, I feel I'm vindicating what I'm doing."
The primary incarnation of the group -- singer/guitarist Strummer, guitarist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon -- was in place by 1977, the year the band recorded and released their self-titled debut in the U.K., though it wasn't picked up in the U.S. until 1979, and in an altered format. Like the Police, the Clash were stylistically inclusive with their roots in punk that they channeled through a working-class political stance. The band released their most enduring album, London Calling
in 1980. The album reached as high as Number Twenty-seven in the U.S. and gave the Clash their first charting single with "Train in Vain" (Number Twenty-three). Though the lineup was beginning to unravel, the group's 1982 album, Combat Rock
, was their biggest seller and yielded a Number Eight single with "Rock the Casbah." Jones was kicked out of the band in 1983 and within two years the band broke up.
Unlike the Clash and Police, AC/DC remain active, despite a body count. Formed by guitarist sibs Angus and Malcolm Young in Sydney, Australia, in 1973, the group's first recording lineup took shape when they added vocalist Bon Scott a year later. AC/DC released their first album, High Voltage
in 1976. The band's first commercial success came with 1979's Highway to Hell
, but after the album's release, Scott died after choking on his own vomit after a drinking binge. Singer Brian Johnson replaced him, and in 1980 the group released its best-known recording, Back in Black
which climbed as high as Number Four and has sold more than 13 million records. Though the band's lineup has changed over the years, the principle trio of Young, Young and Johnson remains intact to this day. In 2000, the band released Stiff Upper Lip
, and last year AC/DC was declared the fifth best-selling band in America, with more than 63 million copies of its album sold.
Championed and produced by Brinsley Schwarz bassist/Stiff Records producer Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim Is True
in 1977, before taking on the Attractions (keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Bruce Thomas, and drummer Pete Thomas) for his second record, This Year's Model
a year later. Costello and Co. fused punk's fury with a heart-on-sleeve vulnerability and became critics darlings, and even managed to muster some chart success in the U.S. (My Aim
reached Number Thirty-two and Model
Number Thirty). Costello would go on to incorporate country music, soul and other genres into his own style, recording prolifically through the Eighties, sometimes with the Attractions, occasionally without. After 1986's Blood and Chocolate
, he put the band on ice, reuniting with the group again in 1994 on Brutal Youth
The Righteous Brothers -- Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield -- formed in Los Angeles in 1962. Purveyors of what was dubbed "blue-eyed soul," the duo signed with Phil Spector's Philles Records in 1964, where they recorded their signature song, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," which became a Number One pop song. Ten more Top Forty singles followed, including "Unchained Melody," "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" and "Rock and Roll Heaven." A re-release of "Unchained Melody" sold more than a million copies after its inclusion in the film Ghost
in 1990. The duo remains active and have tour dates lined up into 2003.
The Rock Hall induction will be held in New York City on March 10th and will air on VH1.
Written by ANDREW DANSBY for RollingStone.com News