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HALL OF FAME TO INDUCT CLASS OF '01

With legendary tenants such as Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye and the Beatles occupying its wings, it might seem that Cleveland's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is the country's only true musical historical monument.

But Buffalo's own music hall of fame has existed since 1983, three years before Cleveland even started to recognize this crazy rock 'n' roll thing. Rick and Marsha Falkowski founded the tribute to area musicians, handing the first honor to legendary Buffalo rockers Talas. The Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, Lance Diamond and Rick James are other names in the hall of fame.

Current president and bluesman Nick Veltri remembers the day he was inducted for his bass playing in 1994.

"It was pretty overwhelming," Veltri said. "I had never really given it any thought until the week before I got inducted, when they called me and said I was going in."

In 1998, the hall found its first physical home in the Market Arcade facility. A few months ago, the organization was finally granted non-profit status and is looking at moving into its own building in the next year. Veltri said the planned music center would act as a museum, performance base and center for music education including workshops and lessons.

"I really believe in this thing," Veltri said. "I want to see the young kids come to the museum and get excited about music instead of guns and all that."

This year's ceremony takes place Thursday in the Tralf. Here's the class of 2001:

The Calato Family: Joe Calato invented the first nylon-tipped drumstick in 1958, changing the world of snares and cymbals and jumpstarting the drumstick company Regal Tip.

William Christie: The world-class conductor was named one of the "60 Most Powerful People In (Classical) Music" and "100 Greatest Conductors of the 20th Century" by BBC magazine in 2000. Christie is founder and director of Les Arts Florissants, a noted French music ensemble.

Joel DiBartolo: Resident bass slapper on the "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" from 1974 to 1992. He has worked on numerous soundtracks and won a Grammy in 1986 for instrumental jazz with the Tonight Show Band.

Ronnie Foster: The producer and songwriter has played keyboard with George Benson and Stevie Wonder. Several of his records have been used as source material for sample heavy acid-jazz and hip-hop.

Armondo Galla: The singer, writer, arranger and musician is a member of Buffalo's Galla family.

Tom Hambridge: Produced Susan Tedeschi's recent Grammy-nominated blues album, "Just Won't Burn," and wrote its two hit singles, "Rock Me Right" and "It Hurt So Bad."

Joe Guercio: Musical director and conductor for Elvis Presley from 1970 to 1977, Guercio has directed Diana Ross and Florence Henderson and performed with B.B. King at the Vatican.

Dr. Robert A. Moog: Numerous rock bands can thank Moog for creating the first line of electronic synthesizers in the 1960s. The former Williamsville resident received Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize in May.

Steve Nathan: Keyboardist and producer has recorded with Dolly Parton, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys and George Michael.

Sam Scamacca: Saxophone player is a music educator at Lafayette High School.

Carol Jean Swist: Piano player and music educator since 1975.

Anthony Violanti: Buffalo News pop music critic for 10 years.

Tom Walsh: Founding member of the jazz group Spyro Gyra, Walsh toured with Joe Cocker and Supertramp and can be heard on the "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" themes.

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