*Finally, Darlene Love will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The singer/actress joins Neil Diamond, the Alice Cooper Band, New Orleans musician Dr. John and singer-songwriter Tom Waits as part of the 2011 class, it was revealed Tuesday.
Piano man Leon Russell was honored with a musical excellence award, previously the sideman category, while executives Jac Holzman and Art Rupe were given the Ahmet Ertegun Awards.
It took three tries before Love, best known for hits such as “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and her work with producer Phil Spector and the Blossoms, was approved for the hall. When the AP reached her on Tuesday, an enthusiastic Love said: “I can actually breathe.”
“Finally it’s done,” she added. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. I still have that nervous stomach, and I’m still excited.”
The excitement will have to wait for some: Bon Jovi, nominated for the first time, was turned away from the hall, as was LL Cool J, the J. Geils Band, the Beastie Boys, Donna Summer and more.
As for who might induct Love at the ceremony, she thought two of her biggest boosters for the hall — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt — would likely do the honors at the March 14 induction ceremony in New York City.
She was also happy for some of the other inductees, including Russell, who used to play on some of her sessions.
“This is going to be a helluva jam session,” she quipped about the upcoming festivities.
The induction ceremony will be aired on Fuse.
Below, Love has performed her 1963 classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” every year since 1986 on the last episode before Christmas of “Late Night with David Letterman” (NBC 1986 – 1992) and the “Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS 1993 to present). The song is always performed with Paul Shaffer and the show’s house band and Letterman has stated that the annual performance is his favorite part of Christmas.