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Cleveland's Rock Hall welcomes new class

By Tom Withers

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 14 2012 5:36 p.m. MDT

Rocker Alice Cooper with his wife, Sheryl, talk with reporters after arriving for the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Saturday, April 14, 2012, in Cleveland.

Tony Dejak, Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Axl Rose may regret missing this bash.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a musical celebration that in past years has included awkward moments, touching tributes and unforgettable performances, is set for Saturday night in historic Public Hall where 6,000 fans, 1,400 well-heeled guests and many of music's biggest stars were set to party with the class of 2012.

Hard rockers Guns N' Roses headlined this year's eclectic group of inductees. Others are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys, folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the Small Faces and Faces.

Rose, the Guns N' Roses lead singer with an affinity for drama, is skipping the event.

Cleveland will rock without him.

The screeching frontman and ringmaster of the G N' R traveling circus of dysfunction for decades said earlier this week that he didn't want to be part of the ceremony because it "doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected."

Rose cited a continuing rift with his former band mates as the main reason for not attending. His decision disappointed fans and ended months of speculation about whether the original Guns N' Roses lineup would unite for the first time since 1993 and perform any of their classic hits like "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Although he asked not to be inducted, the hall plans to enshrine him with whether Rose likes it or not.

As the ceremony approached, fans gathered on the sidewalks outside the historic venue, which hosted the Beatles in 1964, for a peek at some of rock's royalty.

Alice Cooper was the fan favorite on the red carpet, signing autographs, telling printable stories and waving in response to cheers of "Alice, Alice!"

"New York is glitz, Cleveland is the nuts and bolts," said Cooper, comparing the cities that share the rock hall induction ceremonies, which are held at New York's Waldorf-Astoria and come to Cleveland every third year.

"I'm from the Midwest. Cleveland feels normal to me," said Cooper, dressed in a decidedly Hollywood-style black no-lapel tuxedo with a flowered shirt.

Cooper, standing under a canvass canopy protecting against threatening skies, marveled at the scene and said he was glad to be around.

"It's our version of the Academy awards," he said. "If you can stay alive to 27 — that seems to be the expiration date for rock stars."

Funk icon George Clinton made a splashy entrance, arriving in a silver bullet-shaped vehicle familiar to amusement park thrill riders. Wearing a gray herringbone coat and black fedora, he stood and waved from the back seat.

Darlene Love, who will perform "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" for deceased inductee Don Kirshner, showed some love to her Rust Belt fans when she arrived. "They show their appreciation," said Love, glamorous in a one-shoulder red dress, black wrap and red clutch purse.

"Good to see you," she cooed.

Rose isn't the only lead singer missing.

Rod Stewart, who was to be inducted and perform with Faces, came down with the flu this week.

"I'm absolutely devastated," Stewart said in a statement. "Shattered that I'm going to miss my second induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and this time alongside my mates."

Faces will be joined for a short set of songs by Simply Red's lead singer Mick Hucknall, a friend of the band who has played with them before and will take Stewart's spot.

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