Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five became the first rap artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday. The pioneering hip-hop artists were honored during a ceremony at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel along with Van Halen, R.E.M., punk rock poet Patti Smith and 60s all-girl group The Ronettes. Grandmaster Flash - real name Joseph Saddler - said: "I remember when the culture called hip-hop was just a passing ship in the night but I called it a flash of brilliance, excuse the pun. This is the final respect."He later displayed the record-scratching technique he helped establish along with MC's Melle Mel, Rahiem, Scorpio and Kid Creole, mixing a series of their hits, while also sampling Chic's 'Good Times' and Melle Mel's 'White Lines'.The group had an unlikely fan at the ceremony, soul legend Aretha Franklin.When asked what she thought of hip-hop, she said: "I love, some of it, it's fabulous - some of it."Only two members of Van Halen were in attendance - singer Sammy Hagar and ex-bass player Michael Anthony. Former lead singer David Lee Roth was notably absent, reportedly due to a disagreement over their performance. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen was also unable to attend as he is in rehab.R.E.M. were inducted by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who described their music as "truly all-encompassing". Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards inducted The Ronettes, who famously worked with eccentric producer Phil Spector.Patti Smith performed a cover of The Rolling Stones' 'Gimme Shelter' and her hit 'Because the Night', co-written with Bruce Springsteen. James Brown and Atlantic records and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame founder Ahmet Ertegun, who both died in December, were also honored. Artists only become eligible to enter the Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first record.They are honored in Ohio's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.