Billboard.com goes behind the scenes at the 18th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, held last night (March 10) at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The Police, the Clash, Elvis C

Billboard.com goes behind the scenes at the 18th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, held last night (March 10) at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The Police, the Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, AC/DC, and the Righteous Brothers were all inducted to the Hall, as were sidemen Floyd Cramer, Steve Douglas, and Benny Benjamin, and Warner Bros./Reprise executive Mo Ostin. Highlights from the event will be broadcast Sunday on VH1.

• • •


The Clash's Mick Jones and Paul Simonon reflected back on the difficulties the band had convincing CBS Records to release 1980's sprawling triple-disc set, "Sandinista!" Said Jones, "They didn't want to put it out. I think it was because there was so much of it, anyway. It wasn't only just because of what it was called. We wanted three for the price of one, because we were always concerned about VFM, value for money."

Simonon"But as hindsight, we did think that maybe if you lost one of the three albums, at least you got the other two," Simonon said with a laugh. He added that although the Clash was known for its politically charged music, the group never lost sight of the importance of a good melody. "Once you've got a great tune and it's playing on a disco floor or a pub or whatever you want, the idea that people can go home and go, 'wow, that was a great tune,' but then they go, "well, what was it about?" Then you're communicating and that's important."

• • •


Rancid's Tim Armstrong, a confessed Clash fanatic, told Billboard.com the band is currently recording its next Hellcat/Epitaph album in a Los Angeles studio, with a tentative July/August release penciled in. The as-yet-untitled set should coincide with Rancid's return to the Vans Warped Tour, which the group last headlined in 2001.

Hellcat head Chris LaSalle added that the posthumous third Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros record is tentatively set for an August release through the label. Mescaleros member Martin Slattery is currently mixing the set, which, as previously reported, is likely to feature a song Strummer had written for inclusion on a Johnny Cash album, as well as another tune written with producer/multi-instrumentalist Danny Saber.

Meanwhile, Costello is planning an April return to the studio with the Imposters, the band that backed him on 2002's acclaimed Island set "When I Was Cruel." The artist will also star as a street musician in an upcoming episode of the NBC comedy "Frasier," due for broadcast later this season. As previously reported, he will guest host "The Late Show With David Letterman" tomorrow while Letterman recovers from an eye infection.

• • •


Although a number of artists took time out from their speeches to address a possible U.S.-led war with Iraq, none were more vocal than Neil Young, who inducted longtime Warner Bros./Reprise executive Mo Ostin.

"One thing is on my mind before I get to Mo," he said. "War sucks the big one, it just sucks. We're having a good time tonight, but we're gonna kill a lot of people next week. Let's not forget about that. I didn't want to ruin this, but it's too real to not mention it. And music used to be about this, and it still is about this. This is a human thing, and these are human beings over there. And we're making a huge mistake. I feel like I'm in a giant, gas-guzzling SUV and the driver's drunk as a f***in' skunk."

As previously reported, Young will stage a solo acoustic tour of Europe later this spring as a precursor to summer North American dates with Crazy Horse. Among the latter will be an appearance at the second Bonnaroo festival, set for June 13-15 in Manchester, Tenn.

• • •


John Mayer said his appearance on stage with the Police at the end of "Every Breath You Take" was "not pre-arranged." But, as a Police devotee since childhood, the singer/songwriter confessed, "there is no other band I'd be more prepared to go up on stage with. I felt highly qualified for the job." Mayer recently released his cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle" on his live DVD/CD, "Any Given Thursday."

As for his own music, the artist says he plans to hit the studio at the end of April to begin work on the follow-up to his smash Aware/Columbia debut, "Room for Squares." Mayer plans to roadtest his new material on a summer tour with Counting Crows, dates for which are still being finalized. "I'll want to work the new songs out on the road," he said. "That's how I wrote all the songs from my first record."

• • •


The Righteous Brothers performed their early Phil Spector-produced hit "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," with group member Bill Medley personally thanking the producer during his acceptance speech. When asked backstage to comment on Spector's recent arrest as a murder suspect, group member Bobby Hatfield quickly replied, "We have no idea!" Added Medley, "We weren't there. We haven't talked to Phil in 35 years. [But] we hope it all comes down good for him."

After splitting twice in the late 1960s and early '70s, the Righteous Brothers have been performing regularly in recent years. The group resumes a regular engagement at Las Vegas' Orleans Hotel on April 22; a live album recorded in Las Vegas will be available on its official Web site on April 1.