Michael Stipe and band head a list that includes hip hop for first time

By Ellen Tumposky
Updated March 13, 2007 09:50 AM

R.E.M. reunited when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday night.

Former drummer Bill Berry – who left the group in 1997 – joined Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck for a special performance of some of the band’s early songs at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

Singer Stipe said his late grandmother once told him that she felt that the acronym R.E.M. stood for ” ‘remember every moment’ – and this is a moment I shall never forget,” the Associated Press reports.

Also among the inductees: the Ronettes, Patti Smith, Van Halen and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – the first hip-hop act to be welcomed into the Rock Hall.

For Grandmaster Flash, the event showed that rap was at last being recognized by the rock-and-roll establishment.

“There were some that called it a fad,” he said backstage. “They called it a flash of brilliance, excuse my pun. I think the significance of going into this organization is it’s the final place for corporate respect.”

Rapper Jay-Z read his induction speech from a Blackberry, saying, “Thirty years later, rappers have become rock stars, movie stars, leaders, educators, philanthropists, even CEOs. None of this would have been possible without the work of these men.”

Only two members of Van Halen – Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony – attended, with guitarist Eddie Van Halen in rehab and former lead singer David Lee Roth boycotting because he wasn’t allowed to sing his hit “Jump.”

Hagar told the crowd he wished his bandmates could be there, but “it’s out of our control.”

He added, “It’s hard for Mike and I to be up here to do this, but you couldn’t have kept me away from this with a shotgun.”