R.E.M., Van Halen, Patti Smith, the Ronettes and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 12 during a ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Ho

R.E.M., Van Halen, Patti Smith, the Ronettes and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 12 during a ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. To be eligible for induction, this year's class had to release their first single no later than 1981.

The upcoming event will also pay tribute to late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who served as the chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

Michael Stipe and Mike Mills both told Billboard.com this morning that R.E.M. was particularly pleased to be in the same class of inductees as Patti Smith, an acknowledged influence on the band who called Stipe today (Jan. 8) to congratulate the band on the Hall of Fame news. "It was really greater to be able to say 'Congratulations to you' back to her," Stipe says. Mills added that, "She's been up (for induction) before and hasn't gotten in. I was afraid that her lack of huge record sales might blind people to her influence."

R.E.M. and Van Halen also face the decision of whether to perform at the ceremony with ex-members. R.E.M. reunited with former drummer Bill Berry last fall to celebrate its induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and even hit the studio with him to record a track for an as-yet-unreleased charity album.

For Van Halen, the situation is more complex. The group is without a lead singer, although rumors are swirling that original frontman David Lee Roth will tour with the outfit this summer. In addition, Eddie Van Halen's teenage son recently replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony in the band.

Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie, Miles Davis and record moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss were enshrined in the Hall in 2006.

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