The final choices, announced Tuesday, include angst-ridden alternative rockers Nirvana and big-haired, makeup-slathered pop metal band KISS.
They are joined by blue-eyed-soul hitmakers Hall and Oates, experimental artist Peter Gabriel, pop star Linda Ronstadt and folk singer Cat Stevens.
Between them, the new inductees boast an impressive array of chart success and critical plaudits.
Hall and Oates, Gabriel and Ronstadt have all hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. Ronstadt, Nirvana and KISS have each sold more than 20 million albums.
The legacy of Nirvana, who almost unwittingly brought grunge into the mainstream in the early 1990s, has been described as “one of the most influential in rock & roll history,” by Allmusic.com’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine.
The group’s sound — “both fiery and melodic,” per Erlewine — proved irresistible to many rock fans, most notably with the breakthrough album “Nevermind.” But the band’s story is shrouded in sadness after lead singer Kurt Cobain, who suffered from depression and drug addiction, killed himself in 1994.
Gabriel, the winner of multiple Grammy Awards, has been acclaimed for exploring electronic and world music in his varied solo career. Genesis, the progressive rock group he led in the 1970s, was already inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
KISS may have received mixed responses from the critics during its 1970s heyday. But the extravagantly outfitted group built a roaring fan base called the “KISS Army” on the back of incessant touring, pyrotechnic stage shows and several hit albums.
Hard rock fans may be less impressed by the gentler sounds of some of the other inductees.
Ronstadt, who emerged from the Los Angeles folk scene in the late 1960s, went on to have a glittering career that spanned a variety of styles, including country, new wave and Latin music. She won a raft of Grammy Awards and sold at least 30 million albums. Earlier this year, she told AARP that she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and could no longer “sing a note.”
British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens crafted a string of popular songs for himself and others throughout the 1970s. With hits like “Wild World” and “Peace Train,” he became a leading figure in the folk-rock scene of that era and has sold more than 15 million albums.
In 1977, he made headlines by converting to Islam and changing his name to Yusuf Islam. He stepped away from the limelight of the music business for more than 20 years, before eventually returning to touring and recording.
Daryl Hall and John Oates peppered the charts with hits during the 1970s and ’80s, chalking up six number one singles and six platinum albums. The popularity of their blend of smooth R&B and punchy rock made them one of the most successful pop duos of all time, selling more than 13 million albums.
The artists’ induction ceremony into the Hall of Fame will take place April 10 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Fans were able to participate in the selection of the inductees through voting. The top five artists from online public voting made it onto a “fans’ ballot” that was tallied along with the other ballots for the Class of 2014. The inductees were chosen by a secret ballot of 600 voters, a group that includes previous inductees, music industry veterans, historians and critics.
Of the five artists on the fans’ ballot, three made the final cut of inductees, the Hall of Fame said.
Some popular acts listed among the 16 nominees in October failed to find their way into the Hall of Fame this time around. Those who missed out include disco dynamos Chic, college radio heroes the Replacements, New Orleans funkmeisters the Meters and pioneering gangsta rappers N.W.A.
Last year’s class of inductees included Rush, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Donna Summer and Quincy Jones.
Alongside the six acts in the performer category for 2014, the work of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham were selected for the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which recognizes recording industry professionals “who have had a major influence on the development of rock and roll.”
The Hall of Fame chose Bruce Springsteen’s backup group The E Street Band for the Award for Musical Excellence. Springsteen was inducted in 1999.