TV viewers asked to select inaugural UK 'Hall of Fame'

While some musical acts regularly top the charts, others win prestigious awards only to see their stars wane and their names fade into obscurity. Now those with real sticking power, the all-time greats, are to be honoured in the UK's first Hall of Fame.

Acts voted in by members of the public - who are being told to choose their favourite performers from the second half of the 20th century - will join Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Madonna and U2 who have automatically gained places.

Organised by Channel 4, viewers will be asked to choose from a shortlist of 10 artists from each decade. To be eligible, an act must have released their first recording at least five years ago, and have achieved UK chart success.

The winning five acts will then be inducted into the hall of fame at a live concert at the Hackney Empire in London in November. Presley, the Beatles, Marley, Madonna and U2 have been elected founding members because of their huge impact on the British music scene.

In the United States, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, founded in 1986, has become a national institution. A 36-strong steering group made up of British music industry experts now hopes to recreate that success in the UK and turn the induction of new members into an annual event.

They include the Beatles' producer Sir George Martin, the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, Alex James from Blur, the Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, Universal Music chairman Lucian Grainge and radio presenters Jo Whiley, Trevor Nelson and Paul Gambaccini.

The group has drawn up the short list, which will be revealed over five weeks in a series of two hour-long programmes on Channel 4. Its presenter, Jamie Theakston, will also give an overview of the music from each decade. Viewers will then select one act to go forward to the final five.

Paul Gambaccini said: "The American rock and roll hall of fame began in 1986. The selection is a matter of national concern every year and the national broadcast is keenly anticipated."

"Britain has dominated popular music for the past 40 years. It's an extraordinary achievement and one that is not properly celebrated," the Radio 2 presenter added.

Gambaccini explained the reasons for choosing the five founding members. "With Elvis Presley, you have the beginning of popular rock and roll ... the Beatles were the second great youth quake ... Bob Marley not only became popular in his decade, but became more popular in following years ... Madonna empowered women and introduced female sexuality ... U2 are still giants and their new album is the most eagerly awaited fall release in the schedule."

Artists including Brett Anderson from Suede, the Beastie Boys, James Brown, Brian Eno, Noel Gallagher, Robin Gibb, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Robbie Williams and Brian Wilson have also contributed to the series.

The Music Hall of Fame is being made for Channel 4 by Initial, a subsidiary of the Big Brother-creator, Endemol, which also produced the 1980s Channel 4 music show The Tube.

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