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Nostalgia reigns at Rock Hall of Fame inductions

NEW YORK (AP) -- It was as rock 'n' roll should be, as rock 'n' roll by definition must be: an evening of mongrel music.

Motown, folk, jazz, rockabilly, gospel, rap, even ragtime -- all claimed berths both overt and subtle at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions Monday night. And when Ray Charles dubbed it the "Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame," you could argue that it wasn't a mistake at all."You can't really call it one thing. 'Rock and roll' is too slim for what's going on tonight," Paul McCartney said as he honored James Taylor, one of 14 musicians and groups tapped for the hall's 15th annual inductions.

The hall is about genealogy more than anything else -- isolating a diaspora of sounds and inspirations and innovations, tracing them to their sources, then stitching them together into a feel-good tapestry of the age.

It keeps track of a far-flung, sometimes rebellious family of different hues and persuasions and prejudices -- and brings its generations together.

It is the family of the Moonglows, whose silky harmonizing was pushed from R&B into the mainstream by rock pioneer Alan Freed and whose song, "Sincerely," inspired a young Paul Simon in 1955.

It is the family of Bonnie Raitt, who traces 30 years of blues-cum-rock to a desire to be the "female Muddy Waters" and early emulation of Junior Wells and Mississippi Fred McDowell, among others.

"I'm proud," she said, "to be a bridge between blues and rock."

It is the family of Earth, Wind and Fire, the preeminent 1970s R&B band that made, in the words of rapper Lil' Kim, "music that everybody needs."

It is the family of Eric Clapton, already inducted as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream, now entering on solo merits. It is the family of Lovin' Spoonful, whose 1966 hit "Summer in the City" offered a 14-year-old boy named John Mellencamp an anthem.

It is also the family of Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, who inspired countless singers who followed -- like Diana Ross, who inducted Holiday, and Charles, who inducted Cole.