It's official -- Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Darlene Love and Tom Waits will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. The class of 2011 will be formally feted on Mar. 14 at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
All but Waits were first-time nominees to the Hall. Acts who did not make the cut this year included first-time nominee Bon Jovi, as well as multiple nominees LL Cool J, Donna Summer, the Beastie Boys, J. Geils Band, Chuck Willis, Chic and Joe Tex.
The nonination of shock rock icon Cooper and his original band seemed a long time coming given their commercial success -- four platinum albums and five Top 40 hits between 1971-73 -- and stature as theatrical pioneers.
Cooper figures it's about time the band got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But he wasn't worried about it."I've always felt the same way about this whole thing," he tells Billboard.com. "I kind of sat back and said, 'It will happen eventually.'"
"It did get to be kind of a joke, not being nominated," Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) adds. "I got to the point where I was saying, 'OK, I'm the Pete Rose of rock 'n' roll!' So now that it's a reality, it's a different take on it. Now I sit there and go, 'Wow. Wow! We've got to really get up and play, and assume the position of being in the Hall of Fame.' It'll be great."
Cooper says the only time he was upset about not being on the ballot was in 2009, when Kiss, who he considers proteges of a sort, were nominated before him. "That one stung a little bit," he acknowledges. "I sat there and went, 'Now, wait a minute...Really? Are we invisible here, or what?'"
The original Cooper band -- guitarists Michael Bruce and the late Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith -- splintered in 1974, after the "Muscle of Love" album. But Cooper, who's continued as a solo act ever since, says he would not have accepted induction if it wasn't for the entire band.
"The original band was cutting edge," he explains. "It was the original band that had all the iconic records from 'Love it to Death' on to 'Billion Dollar Babies' and 'Muscle of Love.' What I did after that was an aftermath. The original band were the guys that had to cut through that big, thick ice in order to become an entity out there. I can't see how I could just go up there as an individual."
The four surviving Alice Cooper members are currently together in Arizona rehearsing for a performance at Cooper's 10th Annual Christmas Pudding at Phoenix's Comerica Theater, benefiting his Solid Rock Foundation for children. (Rob Zombie, former Eagles guitarist Don Felder, Night Ranger, Glen Campbell, Cheech Marin and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers are also performing). The group will perform at the induction ceremony, with Steve Hunter, who played in Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" band, filling in for Buxton.
Major theatrics -- such as the guillotine or gallows -- are unlikely for the Hall of Fame ceremony, Cooper says, but it will hardly be a bare-bones performance.
"We'll play 'I'm Eighteen' and 'School's Out,' probably," he says, "but I'm sure there'll be weather balloons of confetti thrown into the audience and stuff like that. They'll know it's us."
(Additional reporting by Monica Herrera)