Van Halen, R.E.M. selected for Rock Hall of Fame

Van Halen, R.E.M. and Patti Smith will be inducted into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the hall announced on Monday.

Van Halen, R.E.M. and Patti Smith will be inducted into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the hall announced onMonday.

Also to be inducted in a ceremony in March are Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the first rap act ever to make the cut, and 1960s girl group the Ronettes.

A panel of 600 industry figures selected the five inductees for 2007 from a long-list of nine names put forward last October.

"R.E.M. and myself in particular are really terrible [at] looking backward," said Michael Stipe, lead singer of the '80s indie group, formed in Athens, Ga.

"I'm just really honoured that they thought of us."

R.E.M., whose members are Stipe, Bill Berry, Peter Buck and Mike Mills, was known for alternative music from its beginning with the 1981 release Radio Free Europe. It came to unexpected fame with the album Document in 1987 and continued to be influential through the 1990s.

Hard rockers Van Halenwere led by guitarist Eddie Van Halen, known for his blistering guitar solos, and hadhits such as Jump and Dreams.

The band, active in the 1980s and 1990s, was initially fronted by outrageous lead vocalist David Lee Roth, who left the band after feuding with Van Halen. Rocker Sammy Hagar, who took overas lead singer, Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen will also be named in the induction ceremony.

Grandmaster Flash led the most innovative act in early hip-hop, and the song The Message was like a letter from urban America.

Punk rock poet Patti Smith, known as the Godmother of Punk, came out of lower Manhattan in the early 1970s, played at CBGBsand was known for her avante-garde music.

Estelle Bennett, Ronnie Spector and Nedra Talley as The Ronettes achieved success with hits such as Be My Baby and Baby I Love You in the 1960s. Ronnie was married to their producer Phil Spector, who is now awaiting trial in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

To be eligible for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, artists must have issued a first single or album at least 25 years prior to nomination.

The ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New Yorkon March 12will also honour Ahmet Ertegun, legendary founder of Atlantic Records.

Ertegun, who was a crucial figure in the careers of artists ranging from Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, was instrumental in founding the hall of fame.