Eight Jewish musicians and artists, many of whom set the stage for future bands in their respective genres, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on April 14.
In the performer category, Jack Irons and the late Hillel Slovak, two founding members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro; former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler; and the Beastie Boys’ Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch round out 2012’s Jewish inductees.
The late producer and executive Don Kirshner was inducted as a “nonperformer.” He managed songwriters Carole King, Barry Mann, Neil Diamond and others.
King, herself a 1990 Hall of Famer, along with Bette Midler, both Jewish performers, were presenters this year.
Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch, three Jewish-born musicians from New York City, comprise the Beastie Boys. The group released its debut album “Licensed to Ill” in 1986. It was hip-hop’s first-ever No. 1 album and broke new ground in the genre.
The group helped to introduce rap to a new audience, attracting party-going teens and hip-hop fans to the craze with songs like “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!),” “Brass Monkey” and “Paul Revere.”
The trio was also active on the political front, organizing the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, a series of rock festivals in North America, Europe and Asia in the mid- to late-‘90s that supported Tibetan independence.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Jack Irons, the Chili Peppers’ original drummer, and the band’s former guitarist, the late Hillel Slovak, both Jewish, were two founding members. Irons and Slovak, along with lead singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary, were high school friends who sometimes put on live shows almost entirely naked.
Slovak, the son of Holocaust survivors, died of a drug overdose on June 25, 1988, and Irons left the band shortly thereafter.
The Chili Peppers gained popularity with songs like “Give It Away,” “Under the Bridge,” “Otherside,” and “Scar Tissue.” The band followed up its 2006 two-CD set “Stadium Arcadium” with 2011’s “I’m with You.” The five-year hiatus was the longest in the group’s history.
Guns N’ Roses
Former drummer Steven Adler (born Michael Coletti) was fired from Guns N’ Roses on July 11, 1990, just five years after the Jewish musician first joined the group with superstars Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin and Saul “Slash” Hudson.
The band was best known for its LP “Appetite for Destruction,” as well as singles “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
In July 1991, Adler sued the band and settled out of court in 1993 for $2.25 million. Despite long-standing tension with the band, Adler told the Canadian Jewish News he would be open to touring with his old entourage again.
“There are two reasons why I want to do a tour with the original Guns N’ Roses guys,” Adler said. “There’s all the love I receive around the world. … And two, the money we could make. The whole thing could make billions of dollars. All we have to do is get on stage with each other for 90 minutes.”
Jewish singer, songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro recorded her first album and played the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at age 19. Nyro spent 25 years under the Columbia record label, where she cranked out the album “Eli and The Thirteenth Confes-sion” in 1968.
Nyro died of ovarian cancer in 1997 at age 49.
The late Jewish producer and music executive Don Kirshner founded Aldon Music in 1958 with musician Al Nevin. Neil Diamond was one of the first artists to ink a contract with the music firm. After selling Aldon in 1963, Kirshner turned to television and became executive producer on ABC’s live-music show “In Concert” in 1972.
The next year, Kirshner piloted “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” which hosted performances by the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers and others. The concert was broadcast until 1982, when Kirshner retired. He died of heart failure on Jan. 17, 2011.