The five artists inducted were chosen by 600 music industry professionals, and beat out disco queen Donna Summer, New York-based funk group Chic, rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and hip-hop group The Beastie Boys for the 23rd annual induction.
For 1960s British band The Dave Clark Five -- Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton and Mike Smith -- the induction is bittersweet. Lead singer Smith died last month from pneumonia and Payton died from cancer in 2006.
"It would have been lovely if it had been all five of us here," Clark told reporters backstage before the band were inducted by actor Tom Hanks. "I know they will be smiling down on us and they will be very proud."
The Dave Clark Five topped the British charts in 1965 with "Glad All Over" and were described by the foundation as "an enormous pop phenomenon" before disbanding in 1970. The group has sold more than 50 million albums to date.
Songwriting and producing team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, architects of the Philly Soul sound of the 1970s, were inducted in the non-performer category, while musician Ben Harper inducted the late Little Walter in the "sideman" category for his pioneering use of the microphone that helped establish the modern blues harmonica.
Billy Joel inducted Mellencamp, who released his first album in 1976 and has often sung about the flawed American dream. The Hall of Fame foundation dubbed him a "symbol of the hopes, struggles and passions of America's heartland."
"I've been an total walking contradiction my entire career and I intend to stay that way," Mellencamp said. "I never cared about having hit records, but I always wanted to hear my songs on the radio."
Hits by the Ventures -- Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Mel Taylor, Don Wilson -- include "Walk Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O" and the foundation credits the band with defining instrumental guitar rock in the 1960s.
(Reuters March 11, 2008)