Aussie Hall Of Famers Inducted

Alt-rockers the Triffids and veteran performer Rolf Harris were among six acts inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.

The Triffids, who split in 1990, have been rediscovered by a new generation. A poll published last month in Melbourne's "The Age" newspaper listed "Born Sandy Devotional" at No. 6 among the greatest Australian records of all time. The band dedicated the accolade to the memory of their songwriter and frontman David McComb, who died in 1999, a year after undergoing a heart transplant.

Nick Cave, who inducted them via a video speech taped in London, described McComb as "a truly brilliant songwriter, he was head and shoulders above the rest of us while we were scrambling around looking for subjects to write about."

Steve Kilbey of the Church scoffed, "If Bruce Springsteen had written 'Wide Open Road' it would have been a hit." Kilbey and Rob Snarki of Blackeyed Susans joined the surviving members of the Triffids to perform the song, which was named as one of the 30 greatest Australian songs in a 2001 list published by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).

Rolf Harris recalled how he left Australia for London in the early '60s to work as a painter, but turned to entertainment to pay the rent. A U.K. promoter told him to lose his "appalling" Australian accent. But when performing once a week at the Downunder club, to Australian expatriates, he found he could retain his "Australianness". Harris remains a household name in the U.K., where he has had a string of hits, including "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" and the 1969 No. 1 "Two Little Boys".

During the ceremony, Harris was joined onstage by the Seekers -- another '60s act which moved to England and found international fame. Tim Freedman, of multi-platinum alt-rock band the Whitlams, performed a piano ballad version of "Two Little Boys."

Another ARIA honoree was New Zealand's alternative rock group Dragon, whose bassist Todd Hunter noted that this month marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of his brother and Dragon frontman singer Marc Hunter, who died from throat cancer.

Singer songwriter Russell Morris and New Zealand-born artist Max Merritt were on hand to be inducted. The ailing Merritt, who suffers from Goodpasture's syndrome, which attacks kidneys and lungs, returned from Los Angeles under a strict medical regime. Having spent most of his visit under care in a hospital, Merritt dueted on the night with country singer Kasey Chambers, a performance which earned a standing ovation.

Meanwhile, Sydney radio personality John Laws received an ARIA lifetime achievement award for his support for Australian country acts.

This was the fourth year that the Hall of Fame was held as a stand-alone event. It will be televised locally on cable channel VH1 this weekend.

In related news, ARIA announced that the Arts Centre in Melbourne will host a two-month exhibition from November focusing on the careers of this year's -- and past -- inductees.

"This is the next step in the evolution of the ARIA Hall of Fame," said Ed St John, ARIA chairman and president and CEO of Warner Music Australasia.

Another yet-to-be-announced inductee will be honored at the ARIA awards in Sydney in October.