N.W.A., Chicago joins Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Posted at 9:29 PM, Apr 08, 2016

 NEW YORK (AP) -- Los Angeles rappers N.W.A., whose legacy gained new life with the hit movie "Straight Outta Compton," joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday with a quartet of 1970s-era rock acts.

Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple and Steve Miller also were honored at a ceremony at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich described seeing the first inductees, Deep Purple, when he was nine years old and taken to their concert in Copenhagen. He said it changed his life.

"Almost without exception, every hard rock band of the last 40 years - including mine - traces its lineage back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple," Ulrich said. "They are always considered equal. In my heart, I am bewildered that they are so late in getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

The band was without one of its founding members, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who stayed away because current members wouldn't agree to play with him. But the inductees regarded him warmly in their speeches and paid tribute musically - performing "Smoke on the Water" with the signature riff that the guitarist came up with.

Ulrich called it the guitar riff "that has actually been banned from playing in music stores to preserve the sanity of the staff."

N.W.A.'s rough-hewn tales of life on the streets tilted the balance toward West Coast rap in the late 1980s on songs like "F--- the Police," ''Boyz-N-The Hood" and "Straight Outta Compton."

Following the act's breakup, Dr. Dre became one of music's most in-demand producers and a billionaire with a high-tech headphone company. Ice Cube moves between music and a successful acting career.

Named for one of N.W.A.'s best-known songs, the movie "Straight Outta Compton" told the band's story and was one of the biggest box office winners of 2015.

The act announced just before the event that they would not perform at the rock hall event.

Miller came out of a blues background in San Francisco and later became a dependable author of FM rock hits like "Fly Like an Eagle," ''Jet Airliner" and "Jungle Love."

Chicago was known for a brassy, jazz-rock fusion in its early days and settled into a comfortable career penning pop hits. Among their favorites were "Saturday in the Park," ''25 or 6 to 4," ''If You Leave Me Now" and "Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is?"

The pride of Rockford, Illinois, Cheap Trick's career soared in the late 1970s when a live album recorded before a gleeful Japanese audience added excitement to tracks like "Surrender" and "I Want You to Want Me." The band just released a new disc on the hot Big Machine label.

The hall also inducted songwriter and producer Bert Berns.

HBO is filming Friday's show and will air highlights on April 30.

The rock hall also announced that starting in 2018, it would begin alternating the annual induction ceremony between New York and Cleveland, where the Hall of Fame and Museum is located.