The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police in rock hall of fame

New York, March 11 (Reuters): The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoured the second British invasion last night, inducting the Clash, The Police and Elvis Costello and the Attractions on an emotional night at the Waldorf Hotel.

Australian hard rock band AC/DC and the Righteous Brothers were also honoured at the 18th annual induction for the hall, but the British influence dominated as did anti-war sentiments expressed by a number of star musicians.

“It’s a very good night to be British,” said Sir Elton John, a 1994 Hall of Fame inductee, in introducing Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

“Three of the greatest bands in the last 30 years to come out of Britain are being honoured tonight.”

The Clash, a seminal rock band that laced the high-energy punk message of rebellion with social and political consciousness, accepted their honours without vocalist-guitarist Joe Strummer, who died of heart failure last December at age 50.

Strummer wrote most of the biting lyrics for the group in his song-writing collaboration with guitarist Mick Jones and his influence and the band was invoked repeatedly.

In contrast to the recent Grammy Awards, artists were not discouraged from making political statements during the ceremonies, and worries over an impending US-led military action against Iraq moved many musicians to speak.

“They were the most influential band in our lives,” said Tom Morello, guitarist for Audioslave and previously for Rage Against the Machine, in introducing a video montage of the Clash. “They really changed me personally and politically.”

“At the centre of the Clash hurricane stood Joe Strummer. When he played, he played like the world could be changed by a three-minute song. He always stood up for the underdog. He played with such conviction that he gave us courage.”

As the Beatles and Rolling Stones helped launch the first British invasion in the early 1960s, the punk movement brought about another musical resurgence in Britain in the next decade that influenced the sound on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Police, fronted by lead singer Sting, added reggae rhythms to their new wave sound, and Elvis Costello evolved from an angry young man through a succession of styles influenced by a wide range of music his vocalist father exposed him to.

American drummer Stewart Copeland kept The Police from being an all-British band, but Sting’s distinctive voice stamped the group as English.

Also inducted into the hall, which is located in Cleveland, were musician “sidemen” Benny Benjamin, the drummer for the Motown studio band the Funk Brothers, country music pianist Floyd Cramer and rock saxophonist Steve Douglas.

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