M&M Rules

MADONNA, POP music’s quick-change artist, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and paid tribute to people who encouraged her and even critics who panned her for helping drive her career.

Heartland hitmaker John Mellencamp, with his son Speck playing guitar and his parents watching from a balcony above the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ballroom, joined the rock-kicking on Monday night with a rumbling version of ‘Authority Song.’

Philly soul producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, literate Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, British rockers the Dave Clark Five, and surf instrumentalists the Ventures were among the other inductees.

Madonna recalled a teacher who encouraged her to follow her dreams when she was only 14. “Thirty-five years later, people are still encouraging me to believe in my dreams,” she said at the induction ceremony.

Singer Justin Timberlake, who helped produce Madonna’s upcoming album, inducted her with an innuendo-laden speech.

“The world is full of Madonna wannabes. I might have even dated a couple,” said Britney Spears’ ex-boyfriend. “But there is truly only one Madonna.”

“I’m lucky to be standing here for any number of reasons,” said John Mellencamp, a heart patient who snuffed out a cigarette as he took the stage.

Fellow Hall of Fame member Billy Joel, who inducted Mellencamp, said, “You scared us a couple of times when we thought we might have lost you a couple of times, even though it might have been a good career move.”

Gamble, taking the stage with his longtime partner, invited the audience to answer back his wish for ‘peace.’ “Thank you so much, because that’s exactly what our music represented,” Gamble told the people gathered at the famed hotel for the annual ceremony, televised live on the VH1 Classic cable television station.

Patti LaBelle performed a chandelier-shaking rendition of ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ to introduce Gamble and Huff. The Ventures excelled at what is almost a forgotten art in rock music - the instrumental. Nokie Edwards’ twangy guitar gave the band its distinctive sound. They performed their first hit, ‘Walk, Don’t Run,’ and ‘Hawaii Five-O.’

John Fogerty recalled how he and fellow members of Creedence Clearwater Revival used to hang out in a garage learning the Ventures’ songs.

Cohen is one of music’s most highly regarded, if not best-known, songwriters, through pieces like ‘Suzanne’ and the much-covered ‘Hallelujah.’ Damien Rice sang the latter song in tribute. Lou Reed, who was inducting Cohen, carried a sheaf of papers to the stage and read several examples of Cohen’s lyrics.

The Dave Clark Five followed the Beatles in the original British Invasion in the 1960’s, with catchy hits including ‘Glad All Over.’ Led by drummer and songwriter Clark, the band enters the hall at a tragic time: singer Mike Smith died at age 64 of pneumonia less than two weeks ago.

Actor Tom Hanks paid tribute to the band, recalling times he watched it on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ a television variety show. Joan Jett, Fogerty and Mellencamp played ‘Bits and Pieces’ and ‘Glad All Over.’

Little Walter, who died in 1968, joins the hall in its sidemen category. He recorded frequently with Muddy Waters in the 1950s. “He defined an instrument, he defined a sound, he defined a genre,” musician Ben Harper said of Little Walter.

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