The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2014 list is out as of Tuesday night, and in some ways it’s an improvement for the institution at 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard in Cleveland Ohio, and in some ways they’re up to their same old tricks.
For the second year in a row, they’ve allowed actual rock and roll fans to vote on the list of nominees…but the fan votes don’t count as much as their nominating committee, a list of roughly 500 people from around the world made up of mostly non-musician types: Rock “critics” and journalists led by Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, music historians, and other “industry people”. If you’ve been wondering, as so many of us have, why so many not-even-remotely rock and roll acts like Donna Summer, ABBA, and Madonna get in, this is why. The committee of “experts” think they’re important. So let’s take a look at this year’s nominees and inductees, and make snarky comments, shall we?
Nirvana. An overwhelming fan and critic favorite, who get in in their first year of eligibility (25 years after the release of their first record, in this case a 7 inch single that was a cover of Dutch band Shocking Blue’s Love Buzz…I had a Sub Pop test pressing of this record…extremely rare…I sold it on E-Bay some years ago to pay bills between radio jobs…it probably doubled in price Tuesday night…damn). This is a band that not only represented a whole genre of music that had been intentionally ignored in mainstream media (punk rock), but when they hit it big flat-out killed the genre of rock music that had been pimped by mainstream culture in it’s place (the big-hair-hairspray-spandex-buttrock-not-very-“heavy metal” of the 80’s). Hometown heroes to be sure, but so are Soundgarden, and they’ve been eligible for three years. Pearl Jam will be next year. We’ll see what happens there, but kudos to the RRHOF here.
Linda Ronstadt. She was the biggest female rocker of the 70’s, and an integral part of the L.A. “country rock” sound of that time that gave us the likes of Jackson Browne (in since 2004) and The Eagles (in since 1998), in fact The Eagles were only co-headliners with Linda at the Seattle Kingdome’s second rock and roll show in 1976. Plus she, at 67 years old, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year, so she no doubt got bonus sympathy points even though she’s…..gasp….a girl. And the majority of RRHOF inductees have been men, by far. Again, I have no problem here.
Peter Gabriel. Peter is already in as a member of Genesis, and it’s the Gabriel-led era of Genesis that prog-rock fans all over the world pine for still, though the band sold far more records when Gabriel quit after The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album, and drummer Phil Collins took over vocal duties. So he’s being inducted here for his solo work, which was highly critically acclaimed and exposed rock fans worldwide to “world” (mostly African) music. But again, Phil Collins sold more records. Would once have been enough here?
Hall and Oates. Daryl and John, respectively, had a string of 6 #1 hits in the 70’s that were at the vanguard of the “soft rock”movement, though if you were to ask them, they called their fusion of rock and R&B “rock and soul”. Hall and Oates are a bit on the light side for KZOK…we’ve seen pictures of them playing electric guitars, but damned if you can hear them in any of their songs. I dunno about this one. If there were a “Pop” Hall of Fame I might put them in, but the Rock Hall? “I can’t go for that, woah-oh-no, no can do”.
Cat Stevens. Born Steven Demetre Georgiou, he dumped the stage name after he converted to Islam in 1977 and became the Yusef Islam that found himself unable to fly to the U.S. during the W. Bush years as a potential terrorist, even though he had once written a song called Peace Train. He once toured Britain opening for Jimi Hendrix, but also with Englebert Humperdinck, and while his biggest records were produced by former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith, I’d be more inclined to include him the in the Folk Hall of Fame, if there was one.
Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. The managers of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones respectively…if we’re inducting managers, why not them?
The E-Street Band. They’re being inducted in the “sidemen” category created several years ago when some0ne complained that a lot of singers being inducted (James Brown, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley) would have been nothing without the people who actually made the music they sang to. What would Born to Run have been without Max Weinberg’s drum roll at the beginning? Should have happened when they put Bruce Springsteen in.
KISS were a fun band. I remember my friend Wayne taking me to see them in….’76? The “Hotter Than Hell” tour In the Paramount Theater…”Oh my GOD these guys are SO Great!”…After the show he asked me, “was that the best rock band you’ve ever seen or what?”, and I told him…”They put on a great show, but…Who was that opening band? Those guys were awesome!” “Rush? They suck. Bunch ‘a f***ing Cheeseheads, they’ll never go anywhere”. Interestingly, they went into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one full year before KISS….but why are KISS in at all? They’ve certainly got attitude. They clearly do believe they are the greatest rock band in music history, or at least Gene and Paul do, but they kicked the rest of the band out (they may yet be graciously invited to the induction). The make-up-and-codpiece thing was inventive, if not entirely original (See Screaming Jay Hawkins, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Screaming Lord Sutch, Alice Cooper), but really… marginally competent on their instruments at best (Ace Frehley was the best player of the lot, and they kicked him out), they have one major hit (I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night is pretty great), one minor and super-sappy one (Beth), and a few holdovers from the “Album Oriented Rock” days of yesteryear (Detroit Rock City, God of Thunder, and maybe Strutter) that still get played on the radio now and then, and a fairly embarrassing run of makeup-free 80’s butt-rock (Let’s Put The “X” in Sex?). They led fan balloting this year, as clearly the KISS Army is a devoted lot
How in a just and fair world are KISS in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before…
Deep Purple (snubbed in only their second year nominated in their 21st year of eligibility, and band that launched a million real metal-band wannabees, including KISS, and frankly Peter Criss, nice a guy as he is, is not worthy to carry Ian Paice’s drum sticks). They were third in fan balloting behind KISS and Nirvana, but again were snubbed.
Yes (nominated and snubbed for the first time this year, and only the greatest prog-rock band ever, and again, both their drummers Bill Bruford and Seattle-resident Alan White are tons better than “The Catman”, who again, is a very nice man). Geddy Lee of Rush was surprised more than anyone that his band got in before Yes, who were 4th in fan ballots, way ahead of Hall and Oates…yet….snubbed.
The Chicago Transit Authority. They’ve been eligible for 20 years, and never nominated despite having tons of major hits, being the most recognizable horn-band ever, and at one time sporting Jimi Hendrix’s favorite guitar player…other than himself…in the form of the late Terry Kath.
Cheap Trick. Eligible for 12 years, but never nominated despite being one of the hardest working bands in rock history…still at it. Kurt Cobain was a huge Cheap Trick fan, and would have put them in over his own band, if anyone’d asked.
The Moody Blues. Eligible for 25 years now, never even a crossways look from the Rock Hall critics, and a bona-fide British Invasion band turned into Kings of British psychedelia second only to Pink Floyd.
The Steve Miller Band. One of the greats of San Francisco’s late 60’s scene who reinvented themselves as meat-and-potatoes straight rock and roll in the 70’s with great success.
Oh there are plenty more…actual rock and roll bands that have never even been nominated, many that get played on KZOK all the time: Bad Company, Big Star, Dire Straits, The Doobie Brothers, Emerson Lake and Palmer, ELO, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, King Crimson, Love, The MC5, The Monkees, Motörhead, Procul Harum (they were nominated last year but didn’t get in), Stevie Ray Vaughan, T Rex, Thin Lizzy, Warren Zevon, and The Zombies, to name but a few. What do you think? Sound off in the comments section below!