- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

NEW YORK — Between an ugly feud among Blondie members spilling over onstage and a rancorous letter from the absent Sex Pistols, the latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class did not enter quietly last night.

The animosity even made Ozzy Osbourne, inducted with Black Sabbath, seem sedate.

Trumpeter Miles Davis, who mixed rock, soul and hip-hop into his jazzy stew, and Southern rock pioneers Lynyrd Skynyrd were also welcomed into the hall during a ceremony at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Blondie is back together after 15 dormant years, but no longer includes former members Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison, who unsuccessfully sued to rejoin, and member Gary Valentine, also involved in another band dispute.

Those three men came onstage with the three members of Blondie who still perform — Deborah Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke — but were barely acknowledged by their former bandmates.

Mr. Infante begged to perform with the band.

“Debbie, are we allowed?” he pleaded before Blondie performed their hits “Heart of Glass,” “Rapture” and “Call Me.”

“Can’t you see my band is up there?” Miss Harry replied. The three rejected members walked offstage, but not before Mr. Infante groaned into the microphone.

Punk rockers the Sex Pistols had turned down the honor in a profane letter that compared the hall to “urine in wine.” Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner read the letter, and invited the band to pick up their trophies at the rock hall in Cleveland.

“If they want to smash them into bits, they can do that, too,” Mr. Wenner said.

Behind the unnerving stare of singer Johnny Rotten and the lacerating lyrics of “God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant,” the Sex Pistols appeared the most shocking of the first punk-rock generation in the mid-1970s.

The Pistols imploded after only one album, bass player Sid Vicious later died of a drug overdose and the band was overshadowed musically by peers like the Clash and Elvis Costello, who both made the rock hall before them.

Mr. Osbourne may be better known now as an addled reality-TV star, but his musical legacy as lead singer of Black Sabbath got its due with the band’s induction.

Metallica members Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, in a heartfelt induction, both said their band would not exist without the example of Black Sabbath. Mr. Ulrich chided hall of fame voters for waiting a decade to induct the band.

“We are here to celebrate Black Sabbath tonight, a decade or so late, but that’s another conversation, another argument,” Mr. Ulrich said.

Mr. Osbourne remained on his best behavior and thanked hall members for the honor. He had previously badmouthed the hall for snubbing Black Sabbath even before he shot to fame with “The Osbournes.” In Black Sabbath, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward joined Mr. Osbourne in fashioning heavy, dark tales like “War Pigs” and “Paranoid.”

Mr. Davis was inducted by fellow jazz musician Herbie Hancock, who said the trumpeter often played with his back to the audience simply because he was conducting the band.

“He was a man of mystery, magic and mystique,” Mr. Hancock said. “It was often said he was an enigma. I would venture to say that many who said that just didn’t get it.”


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