The Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead, The Zombies to Be Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
December 13, 2018
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted four legendary ASCAP bands to its 2019 class: The Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead and The Zombies (all ASCAP via PRS). This year's class is a reminder of the UK's continuing impact on the course of rock music history, from the British Invasion of the '60s through today. Each of these bands is recognized for having contributed over 25 years of musical excellence.
The ceremony will take place on March 29, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In the meantime, read each of their bios (courtesy of the Rock Hall) and listen to some of their greatest hits in our playlist below.
Over the past 40+ years, the name “The Cure” has stood for a group of teenage musical schoolmates, a legendary act commanding 10 million television viewers during a live performance, and everything in between. The band’s sound has been called post-punk, gothic rock, new wave, and alternative – but as frontman Robert Smith says, it’s all just “Cure music.”
The story of the Cure has many chapters. After some youthful first efforts billed as “The Easy Cure,” the band began exploring dark imagery. Despite lineup changes, they settled into a distinctive formula of Existentialist philosophy, Gothic themes, and a lot of reverb. The records released between 1979 and 1982 – Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography – saw Smith develop lyrical prowess and a haunting sound as a singer and guitarist. The band followed suit, contributing to atmospheric, synthesizer-driven tracks like “A Forest” (the first to chart in the UK). Their stage look added to the aesthetic: teased black hair, messy makeup, and funeral clothes.
In 1983, ready to move from the stress of what Smith deemed the “sordid side of life,” the Cure opened a new chapter. The Head on the Door (1985) set the standard for a more pop-oriented sound. Big albums full of hit singles – including Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration, and Wish – were supported by even bigger tours. The Cure was also in heavy rotation on MTV, which showed their stunning visual collaborations with director Tim Pope. As their music appealed to an ever-growing audience, they didn’t lose their substance, continuing to produce heart-wrenching tracks like “Love Song.”
The acclaimed album Bloodflowers ushered in the new millennium and earned the Cure a GRAMMY nomination, a forerunner of the accolades the new century would bring. From an MTV Icon award in 2004 to a banner year in 2008, with four #1 hit singles and plans to headline twenty festivals in 2019, it’s clear that the band’s current chapter is one of the best yet.
The most commercially successful New Wave of British Heavy Metal band, Def Leppard ignited the 1980s reign of metal. Their anthemic hooks, melodic but powerful guitars, larger-than-life drum sounds, and sexy swagger created the ultimate stadium experience.
A group of fresh-faced teenagers formed Def Leppard in Sheffield, England in 1977. They quickly emerged as the most commercially successful band in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Combining new wave’s accessibility with metal’s guitar-driven power and glam rock’s sexiness, they set the stage for metal’s domination of arenas, airwaves, and television in the 1980s. Def Leppard defined visual theatricality.
They staged larger-than-life concerts filled with pyrotechnics, unencumbered performance energy, and sexy swagger. They created the model for hard rock bands looking to harness MTV’s hard rock potential with classic videos like “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages.” On the multi-platinum albums Pyromania and Hysteria, Mutt Lange guided the band as they honed their signature sound—a sound that would sustain the band from pub rock to metal and points in-between.
With Def Leppard, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Joe Elliott’s anthemic hooks soared above glossy vocal harmony layers. At the height of their popularity, Steve Clark and Phil Collen saturated their songs with guitars, tracking single-note melodic licks over chunky power chords. Underneath, Rick Savage chugged on the bass to anchor the active sonic texture above. In 1984, Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. He took this as an opportunity to use a pedal-oriented, all electronic drum kit to craft the perfect stadium drum sound: heavy, economical beats with gated reverb and plenty of space between the notes that leaves room for maximum echo throughout the venue.
Def Leppard opened the door for bands like Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and Bon Jovi to ascend into the limelight of the 1980s. Artists from Metallica to Taylor Swift claim them as an influence today. But the band’s greatest asset is their perseverance. Throughout changes in the music industry and personal struggles, Def Leppard continues to find new ways to rock, inspiring legions of fans in their wake.
Never settling for genre archetypes, Radiohead incorporated a wide variety of musical influences - from Pink Floyd to R.E.M. - that challenge even the most dedicated fan. They flipped the music industry on its head.
Founded in the mid-Eighties by schoolboys from outside Oxford, England, Radiohead – who took the name from a Talking Heads song – are the most compelling paradox in modern rock: a worldwide commercial sensation with a restless, experimental vision and underground-pioneer spirit.
Radiohead’s blistering 1992 single “Creep” took a year to move into Britain’s Top Ten and the American Top Forty but became a smash. Singer-lyricist Thom Yorke, bassist Colin Greenwood, drummer Philip Selway, and guitarists Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood (Colin’s younger brother) – reacted to that breakthrough with a dramatic turn away from the mainstream. The jarring guitar dynamics and harrowing balladry of 1995’s The Bends was a gripping prelude to the majestic art-rock futurism and dystopian warning of the 1997 masterpiece and multi-platinum best-seller, OK Computer.
Heralded as their era’s answer to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, Radiohead again turned their backs on success and expectation, entering the next century with two albums that set Yorke’s seething introspection and heated, social argument in unpredictable whirls of electronic minimalism, slashing-guitar turbulence and radical textural invention - Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001).
Kid A, ironically, was Radiohead’s first Number One album in America, affirming the band’s drive to continually challenge itself and its audience over the next two decades through critical and commercial triumphs such as In Rainbows (2007) and A Moon Shaped Pool (2016). Radiohead have also been instrumental in the digital transformation of the record industry, setting precedents with the pay-what-you-want release of In Rainbows and the sudden, digital drop of The King Of Limbs (2011).
But, as O’Brien once said, the secret to Radiohead’s innovation and independence is simple: “We start with what we don’t want to do next.” They continue to fill arenas, connect with audiences, and serve as role models for new bands.
Innovative arrangements, gorgeous choral harmonies, and impeccable musicianship made the Zombies one of the most admired and influential groups of the 1960s. The first wave of the British Invasion carried a startling variety of sounds and styles from old world to new, but not all of the bands presented successfully emerged during that heady halcyon era. The Zombies, with their intricate arrangements and sophisticated atmospherics, stood apart from the raw, blues-drenched disciples of American blues and R&B. Their band’s sound filled space gorgeously and completely with jazz-inflected electric piano and choirboy vocals, endearing themselves overnight to a sea of fans.
The classic lineup of The Zombies fell back to school days at St. Alban’s: Keyboardist and singer Rod Argent met guitarist and vocalist Paul Atkinson and drummer Hugh Grundy as schoolmates. Bassist Chris White and lead singer Colin Blunstone joined shortly after.
Their second and final album Odessey And Oracle has earned its reputation (and its spot inside the Top 100 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time”) alongside such masterworks as the Beatles’ White Album and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Rod Argent’s eponymous band gave majesty and definition to the ’70s, but the Zombies, which he and Colin Blunstone have been helming on records and tours for the past decade, are truly a rock band for all seasons.
At the end of the day, it always comes back home to the triad of career defining hits by the band that beg the question: Where were you the first time you heard “She’s Not There” or “Tell Her No” or “Time Of the Season”? For many, those songs swept away fans, inspiring decades of allegiance or even the impulse to pick up an instrument and play.