Music’s greatest luminaries will welcome eight new members to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday night in New York, the city that birthed Neil Diamond and that Tom Waits famously described as “a big ship... and the water’s on fire.”
The crooner and the growler are part of a new class of inductees that also includes rocker Alice Cooper and his band, singer-songwriter Leon Russell, blues maestro Dr. John, and singer/actress Darlene Love.
The careers of the honorees, taken together, have carved a wide swathe in musical history:
- Darlene Love, 72, sang backup for Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, and Sam Cooke, but is perhaps best known for “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Love performs the song -- a flop when it was released in 1963 -- on David Letterman’s show every holiday season.
- Neil Diamond, 70, is still touring more than four decades after kicking off his career. His 1969 hit “Sweet Caroline,” inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s young daughter, has become an anthem at sporting events and is particularly beloved by Boston Red Sox fans.
- “Alice Cooper” is the name of both the shock rock band that turned macabre stagecraft into an art form and the stage name of lead singer Vincent Furnier, 63. Offstage, Furnier is known for his engaging and witty persona and currently hosts the classic rock radio show “Nights With Alice Cooper.”
- Starting back in the 1950’s, Dr. John, 70, played his way deep into the heart and psyche of his native New Orleans with five Grammy awards and a wild assortment of instruments and genres. His best-known song is probably 1973’s “Right Place, Wrong Time.”
- Leon Russell, 68, is famous as much for his trademark long hair, beard, and sunglasses as for his music. On top of a prolific solo career, he has collaborated with just about everyone who was ever anyone: George Harrison, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones, to name a few.
- A critic once said Tom Waits’s voice sounded like it had been “soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car." Waits, 61, has used that voice to grind out tales of seedy dives and broken souls for decades – and to crack some memorable deadpan one-liners. To wit: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”
The induction ceremony is scheduled to air a week from Monday on Fuse.