The Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard, Queen, Michael Jackson, and Robbie Williams were chosen by fans to be inducted into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame at the inaugural ceremony Thursday. Leading up to the event at London's Hackney Empire, national broadcaster Channel 4 aired a series of nominations programs paying homage to selected artists from the '50s to the '90s. Each of the five episodes profiled 10 artists, and the British public was invited to cast votes to select the inductees. The contest was open to international artists who had the greatest impact on "U.K. music culture." Performers are eligible if their first record was released at least five years prior to nomination. Additionally, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Madonna, and U2 were inaugurated as "founding members." They were selected by a 36-member steering committee of artists, executives, broadcasters, and reporters.
Madonna and Bono were on hand to be inducted. Priscilla Presley and Rita Marley accepted the honors on behalf of their respective late husbands; Beatles producer Sir George Martin accepted the award of behalf of the band. Also during the proceedings, the committee elected Island Records founder Chris Blackwell as an "honorary member" in recognition of his contribution to British music. Blackwell was unable to attend the ceremony due to the death of his wife, Mary, earlier this week.