(author's note: I wrote this blog back in late October, but with one thing & another, it didn't run until now. In light of the recent "Presidential" Election, I now believe the nominees inducted into the Rock Hall will be Tupac, Journey and Joan Baez.)
Longtime Pencilstorm readers are well aware of my problems with ther Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: from the Concept, to the Implementation, to the Selections for Induction; allow me to summarize…….
1) Unlike sports, rock & roll does not lend itself well to the Concept of halls of fame. Sports achievements are pretty much quantifiable: how many games won or lost, batting averages, yards gained, Super Bowl victories, three-pointers made in a single game, how many days or nights (or weeks) were played in soccer until a goal was scored, etc. Much of rock & roll is based on heartfelt ephemera: The Syndicate of Sound’s “Hey Little Girl” is – on the Ricki C. Planet – JUST as important to rock & roll as the entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. (And more exciting.)
2) Implementation: SOMEBODY shoulda thought ahead 30 years ago in 1986 when the Rock Hall started inducting performers that SOMEDAY the well was gonna run dry of TRULY DESERVING members of a HALL OF FAME regarding musicians and rock & roll acts; that somewhere the choices were gonna start to get sketchy. C’mon, let’s face facts: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (and even Led Zeppelin) are one thing, Kiss and Deep Purple are quite another, which leads us to…..
3) The Nomination/Induction Process: Why does there have to be 8 or 9 inductees EVERY YEAR? (Other than the fact that The Rock Hall WANTS/NEEDS to throw a Big Concert every year for some Big $’s, but that’s pretty much the story of EVERYTHING in rock & roll in the 21st century, so what else is new?) I was almost MORE comfortable with the nomination/induction process when the performers had to have been invited to Jann Wenner’s home for dinner at least once, and display their impeccable table manners to Mrs. Wenner before they could/would be considered. (Examples: David Crosby, Billy Joel, Sting.) All of which brings us to the latest pale, weak stew of nominees…….
The 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominations
Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Chic, Chaka Khan, Joe Tex: Pretty much every year I am accused of racism in rejecting all of the Black Nominees to the Rock Hall. And every year my defense is the same, there are MANY, MANY black performers who belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Chuck Berry (without whom rock & roll MAY NEVER HAVE EXISTED), Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, etc. If somebody – Berry Gordy Jr., for example – would like to establish a R&B/Rap Hall of Fame in Memphis (where the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUILT, by the way, but that’s another blog for a different time) or Detroit (the original Motown), I would happily see those performers inducted. I am sorry, but I was only a hippie for about 20 minutes back in 1969 and therefore do not subscribe to the kum-by-yah, politically-correct view that music is music: rock & roll is NOT r&b/rap and vice versa. I don’t see anybody clamoring to induct country acts like Garth Brooks or Eddie Rabbitt into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, let alone Buck Owens, Steve Earle or Lyle Lovett (all of whom might actually DESERVE it.) I view this as pandering, as reverse racism of the Highest Order. (And while we’re on the subject, where are the nominations for The Chambers Brothers or Living Colour: ACTUAL black rock & roll bands?)
Steppenwolf, The J. Geils Band: I saw both of these bands live in their rock & roll primes. My view, INDUCT THEM NOW. (And I sometimes wonder why nobody ever brings up the connections between The J. Geils Band and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. I firmly believe Peter Wolf, Magic Dick & Da Boston Boyz loomed mightily as an influence on the young Mr. Springsteen.)
The MC5, Bad Brains: C’mon, the INVENTORS of a rock & roll style/sub-genre (punk crossed with metal) The MC5 vie for induction the same year as a band that was – at best – a minor sidenote to that style almost 10 years later? Again, I must cite reverse racism. Otherwise, where are the nominations for Black Flag, Fear or The Circle Jerks? Further, if The MC5 had been from New York City or San Francisco (or – perhaps more accurately – if they hadn’t literally and/or figuratively pissed all over Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone magazine and Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditoriums back in the day) they would have been nominated & inducted back in 1994, their first year of eligibility. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2010 and The MC5 is still waiting in 2016, 13 YEARS after the first time they were nominated? Really, I just have to laugh.
The Cars: One of the ten best debut albums of all time, probably the best New Wave/skinny-tie power-pop band (along with Blondie) ever invented? Induct them now.
Joan Baez: ROCKIN’! Didn’t she used to date that nice Zimmerman boy from down the street in Hibbing, Minnesota about five DECADES before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature?
Kraftwerk, Journey: I’ll not be dignifying these nominations with comment. Again, WHY do 19 acts need to be nominated and 8 or 9 INDUCTED every year? The small pond of deserving Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominees is getting shallower every year, gentlemen of the Rock Hall.
Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam: See above, yawn……
Yes, ELO, Depeche Mode: See above, all Hackmeisters of The Highest Order. Jeff Lynne was an infinitely better producer than he was songwriter or bandleader. Induct The Move first. And Yes – whether they meant to or not – spawned the likes of Styx and Kansas, which alone invalidates them gaining entrance to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. SOMEBODY needs to be held accountable for these atrocities in the name of rock & roll.
The Zombies: Really, The Zombies – who recorded a nifty little album called Odessey & Oracle, you mighta heard of it – await induction into the Rock Hall after The Hollies were inducted in 2010? That couldn’t have anything to do with Graham Nash being in Crosby, Stills & Nash and those Jann Wenner dinner parties I referred to above, could it? The British Invasion bands are CRIMINALLY overlooked while the likes of The Dells and Chicago gain induction. Gimme a break, induct The Zombies, NOW. – Ricki C. / October 23rd, 2016.