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Music News: Controversy roils Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Accepting N.W.A.'s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction trophies, l-r: Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Kathie Wright (the mother of Eazy-E), and DJ Yella. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

N.W.A.Cheap TrickDeep PurpleChicago, and Steve Miller were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in a Friday night ceremony that was marked by an unusual amount of controversy. During Miller’s acceptance speech, the classic-rock stalwart admonished the Rock Hall “to be more inclusive of women, and to be more transparent in your dealings with the public”; backstage after the ceremony, he expanded on his critique.

During N.W.A.’s acceptance, MC Ren fired back at Gene Simmons (KISS), who recently said he’s “looking forward to the death of hip-hop.” Simmons didn’t take long to issue a response via Twitter.

N.W.A. did not perform due to seeming disagreement with the show’s organizers, and they left the ceremony early without taking questions — but during the group’s acceptance, Ice Cube offered an eloquent defense of their genre. “Rock ‘n’ roll is not an instrument,” said the rapper. “It’s not even a style of music. It’s a spirit that’s been going on since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, heavy metal, punk rock, and yes, hip-hop.”

The ceremony will be broadcast April 30 on HBO.

Bruce cancels on N.C.

Bruce Springsteen canceled a planned Sunday night concert in Greensboro, N.C. due to recently-passed legislation that, among other things, compels transgender individuals to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex identified on their birth certificates. “To my mind,” said Springsteen in a statement, “it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), who represents parts of Greensboro, responded by calling Springsteen a “bully” from the “radical left” — and pointed out that artists including Justin Bieber and Def Leppard have opted to carry on with planned shows in North Carolina. “I’ve never been a Bieber fan,” said Walker, “but I might have to go.”

GnR come back, wounded

Axl Rose borrowed Dave Grohl’s mobile throne to play Guns N’ Roses‘ first arena gig since the band reunited with much of their classic lineup, including Slash and Duff McKagan. Rose, like Grohl, broke a bone in his foot when he fell off stage during an earlier performance. “You like my furniture?” Rose asked a rapturous crowd Friday night in Las Vegas. (The Current; read digital producer Daniel Nass’s complete concert recap.)

Kanye achieves streaming landmark

Kanye West has the number one album in America with The Life of Pablo — an achievement that’s notable as the first time an album has ever topped the Billboard 200 mostly on the basis of streaming. Pablo sold only 28,000 copies during the week ending April 7, but its tracks were streamed 99 million times. (Billboard)

Brian May refutes Freddie Mercury biopic claims

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen says he parted ways with a planned Freddie Mercury biopic because the filmmakers — and the surviving members of Queen — wanted to portray a sanitized version of the late singer’s life. Not so, says guitarist Brian May: in short, “Sacha became an arse.” May continued by asking rhetorically, “Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so.” (Rolling Stone)

M.I.A. sings for recycling

M.I.A. has released a video featuring a song called “Rewear It,” an appeal for the recycling of used clothing. It’s part of a partnership between the singer-songwriter-producer and the clothing brand H&M. (Pitchfork)

Remembering Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad, a musician and filmmaker, has died of pneumonia at age 76. A pioneer in drone and minimalist music, Conrad kept company with the likes of the Velvet Underground — whose band name was inspired by a a book they found in Conrad’s apartment. (Billboard)

Janet Jackson plans return to the road

Janet Jackson will return to touring in 2017, says promoter Live Nation; the singer has recently taken time off to plan a family, she says, with her husband. “The Janet Jackson Unbreakable Tour in North America will be postponed until 2017,” said Live Nation in a statement. “New dates will be announced at a later time, and tickets will be honored for the rescheduled dates.” (Billboard)

Katie Toupin leaves Houndmouth

Vocalist/keyboardist Katie Toupin has parted ways with Houndmouth, say the band, “to pursue other opportunities.” Toupin says, “I want to wish Houndmouth continued success. I would also like to ask the fans to continue to support me, along with the boys, as we go our separate ways.” (Jam Bands) Hear Houndmouth’s performance in The Current’s studios last year.

Obama salutes American Idol

American Idol concluded its 15-season run on Thursday with an episode that crowned Trent Harmon the show’s last-ever winner. The show’s finale was recognized by none other than President Barack Obama, who said the show “inspired young artists and captivated audiences across the country. And it taught America what it means to be ‘pitchy.'” (Rolling Stone)