The Second Disc

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Rock Hall: Fame or Shame?

with 13 comments

From now until Monday, The Second Disc will be bringing out some features and opinions on Monday’s upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Let’s start with a column that ultimately addresses what a mixed blessing the Hall can be.

Few music-oriented entities draw so much criticism and debate as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In its 25-year history, it has inducted 165 artists into its ranks (with another five to be inducted on Monday), spurring decades-long debates about which of them were truly worthy, what constituted the nature of rock music and so on. But if some reports to be believed, the Rock Hall could continue to lose the dwindling credibility it grasps onto and turn into a legacy edition of the Grammys.

Roger Friedman, famed gossip columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, filed a story in January speculating that in 2011, the eligibility gap will be lowered from 25 years (as in, artists are up for nomination 25 years after their first release) to 20.

It’s easy to dump on Friedman’s credibility; in 2009, he was fired from FOX News for posting a review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine based on the infamously leaked workprint of the movie, in which he touched on how easy it was to find the film online. But he’s also a gadfly who seems to have good sources within the Rock Hall. In 2007 he filed a report stating that The Dave Clark Five was actually voted as the fifth nominee but then-newly designated Rock Hall chairman/Rolling Stone founder/publisher Jann Wenner decided to induct Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five (allegedly the sixth-highest vote-getter) instead. (A spokesperson denied vote fixing to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and The DC5 were inducted the next year.)

Whatever the veracity his claims may be, one may look at this potential decision with derision. Friedman’s report says the committee is sweating the shallow pool of brand-new inductees for 2011 – apparently Sting is the only definitive choice – and would change the rules to get artists like Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Nirvana or Public Enemy into the ranks.

There are two problems with this line of thinking. One is obvious, the other less so.

First, the obvious one (which even Friedman points out): there are plenty of already-eligible artists who deserve induction into the Rock Hall. Chubby Checker, Neil Diamond, Billy Preston, Carole King, CHIC, KISS, Mary Wells – those are just a few names that should have no trouble getting in. And yet a band like KISS were only first nominated this year.

The other problem is this: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to make a more definitive, credible statement about what they’re trying to put on a pedestal. Their Web site states, “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.” Which is fine and dandy. But what they need to do is educate people on what rock and roll truly is – it’s not a few chords, electric guitars and an amp. It’s a tradition that bleeds through all genres, be they pop, R&B, rap, dance or country.

In recent years people have balked about some of the inductees. This year, ABBA is being inducted. Many would say that’s absurd, since they did disposable disco. No way! Their discography was some of the most popular dance music in the entire world. People who would never go to a Broadway show will go to see Mamma Mia! Their popularity is but one part of their significance, though – their tunes are really good.

Same with the rap acts who’ve been inducted, namely Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five (in 2007) and Run-D.M.C. (in 2009). Their instruments might have been wheels of steel instead of six strings, but they moved as many just the same.

And let’s not forget some of the artists who are already in. Acts like Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Solomon Burke, The Jackson 5, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, The Bee Gees, Miles Davis and Madonna greatly expanded the horizons of how rock is and sounds. To flush out an act on such dubious merits as “well they’re not really rock artists” is a fool’s errand.

When the time comes for Guns N’ Roses, Green Day and Nirvana to get their due, it will be a deserved honor indeed. But that time shouldn’t be next year. Now, Wenner and company need to skip the ageist nonsense and put the real rock back into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 10, 2010 at 10:58

13 Responses

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  1. Definitely the Hall of Shame. How can RUSH not be in?

    Hank

    March 10, 2010 at 11:51

    • I agree 100%. Rush not being in the Rock Hall severely damages the Hall’s credibility.

      Kevin M

      March 10, 2010 at 13:24

    • What does Rush Limbaugh have to do with rock and/or roll? :-)

      Schnorrer

      March 11, 2010 at 10:01

  2. Ha! Even before I got to these comments, I was going to write something to the effect of, “Rush needs to be in there.” Great minds…

    Actually, I’m not as bothered about the Rush oversight anymore because I believe the Hall of Fame really is just a joke.

    Don

    March 10, 2010 at 17:38

  3. Don’t forget, Friedman was also one of the first people to announce that David Geffen would get into the Rock Hall in 2010. Also, Abba was always more than a Dance band, more pure Pop than anything, that’s why they are being inducted. Carole King was inducted with Gerry Goffin as a songwriter. My guess is she’ll never get in as a solo act because of this. In the end, the Hall is trying to get some sort of short-term interest in their yearly announcements. Which is why KISS not getting enough votes must have pained Jann Wenner despite the fact that he did every thing he could to keep them off the ballot. So, shortening the eligibilty years can get more modern era bands in. Of course this would be done at the expense of people who have been left behind like Gram Parsons, ELO, the Spinners, Hall & Oates and Alice Cooper to name a few that deserve a nod.

    Tom Lane

    March 10, 2010 at 19:36

    • Hall and Oates! They should definitely be in there.

      Don

      March 11, 2010 at 09:00

  4. This is a touchy subject with me. There a few acts in the Hall that I like and beleive they do not belong there because I can’t see the impact. Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon/Paul McCartney/George Harrison solo work, Jackson Browne and a few others. I dig them all, but what did they do that is as important as the Beatles, Stones, Chuck Berry. And while I’m at it, Madonna’s in there and KISS and Alice Cooper are not? Are you kidding me? Her entire career is based off a VISUAL IMAGE! I like her music, but nobody’s humming Borderline.

    John

    March 10, 2010 at 23:06

    • John… You’re dismissing Lennon’s solo career? Really? Now that’s just wrong. Lennon’s solo work was solid, often brilliant, starting with Plastic Ono Band all the way up through Double Fantasy and the posthmous releases. McCartney’s solo work is more checkered, but then again he’s had 30 more years to come up with failures.

      Little of Paul’s solo work holds up to the Beatles, true, but does it have to? By that logic, there should be few artists allowed in the HoF at all. Even with up and down albums throughout the 70’s, Paul’s list of solo hits is matched by few. The 80’s weren’t too kind to him, but he made his way back in the 90’s and has really made great work the past few years. He belongs.

      I can make cases for George, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Jackson Browne too but I’ve rambled enough. Here’s the thing though… If you’re going to say KISS or Alice Cooper belong (and I think they do), then how can you deny any of these other artists?

      Jackson Browne’s one of the more influential songwriters of the 70s and 80s, but that’s not something that can be said for either KISS or Cooper. Great success for a time, and some classic songs too, but they’re more influential for their theatricality (“visual image”) than for their music.

      Shaun

      April 22, 2010 at 22:23

  5. Let’s see…Johnny Cougar and Phil Collins can get in, but Joan Baez can’t. Huh?

    Hank

    March 11, 2010 at 09:25

  6. Another deserving group not in the Hall are The Miracles. They try to spin that they are, but only Smokey has been inducted. They finally got their Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2009.

    Dan

    March 11, 2010 at 19:44

    • Oh my goodness, yes. Ronnie White, Pete Moore, Marv Tarplin, Claudette Robinson and Bobby Rogers are as essential to the fabric of Motown and soul as Smokey is.

      Mike Duquette

      March 12, 2010 at 01:41

  7. Chicago is another glaring omission… I know the later stuff is pretty awful, but for those first five albums alone I say they deserve to get in.

    And hey hey, how about The Monkees? Sure, I can think of some reasons for them to NOT be let in, but I think the reasons TO let them in are stronger:

    The influence on music video, the strength of those early hit records (regardless of who played on what), the chart success, the fine, underrated albums they made after they won the right to make their own music, the first use of synthesizer on a rock album (Micky Dolenz on the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album), and more. Hell, I’d put them in just for making a ballsy, trippy movie like Head! Besides, Mike Nesmith is a genius.

    Shaun

    April 22, 2010 at 22:11

  8. RE. THE MIRACLES. They are one of the most influential groups on the PLANET !! Also 4 time inductees into the GRAMMY HALL OF FAME (the most inducted songs of ANY Motown group) , and on ALL 3 LISTS of the Top 100 Artists Of All Time, BILLBOARD MAGAZINES, ROLLING STONE’S AND VH-1’s (1998 list)

    You want “influence”? Look at this(from WIKIPEDIA):

    The Miracles, Motown’s first group,are far and away,the most covered Motown group of all time.[32] Their music and songs have influenced artists all over the world – in every major musical genre – over the last 50 years.[33] Almost all of their hits were self-written, making them unique among Motown acts. Many of the Miracles’ songs have been major hits or important recordings for other artists. Among these are:
    “Going to a Go-Go” – The Rolling Stones, The Hags, and Secret Affair.
    “I Second That Emotion” – Japan, Michael McDonald, Kiki Dee, The Manhattan Transfer, Jerry Garcia, Diana Ross & the Supremes with the Temptations, 10db, Tammy Wynette, José Feliciano.
    “(Come ‘Round Here) I’m The One You Need ” – The Jackson 5, The Cowsills, The GP’s
    “If You Can Want” – The Dirtbombs, Barbara McNair, Chazz Dixon.
    “Nowhere To Go- Kanye West (as the basis of his song “About An Angel”), Beanie Sigel (as “Got Nowhere”), Freeway
    “Much Better Off” – J Dilla.
    “You’ve Got The Love I Need” -J Dilla, Raekwon.
    “A Legend In Its Own Time” – J Dilla (as an exercept of his song “One Eleven”).
    “Oh Be My Love”- Barbara Lewis, The Supremes, Barbara McNair.
    “I Don’t Blame You At All”- Rosetta Hightower.
    “Mighty Good Lovin”-Edwin Starr, Chris Clark.
    “You’re So Fine and Sweet”- The Undertakers.
    “I Like It Like That” (Miracles song)- Bobby Vee, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels.
    “Would I Love You”-Len Barry.
    “Happy Landing”- The Temptations.
    “Special Occasion- Jim Gilstrap.
    “I’ll Try Something New” – Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations, Barbara McNair, A Taste of Honey, Spyder Turner (as an excerpt from his cover of “Stand By Me”)
    “My Girl Has Gone” – Etienne Daho, Bobby Taylor, Edwyn Collins, Ken Parker.
    “Yester Love” – Gerald Wilson & His Orchestra.
    “The Love I Saw In You Was Just a Mirage” – The Jackson 5, Vance Gilbert, The Uniques[disambiguation needed]
    “Love Machine” – Wham!, Thelma Houston
    “Determination” – The Contours.
    Choosey Beggar – Chazz Dixon, Debby Boone.
    “I’ve Been Good To You” – Marshall Crenshaw, Brenda Holloway, Joe Meek, The Temptones, Ray, Goodman & Brown (The Moments), The Ones, The Temptations.
    “Mickey’s Monkey” – Mother’s Finest, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, The Hollies, The Young Rascals, John Mellencamp, Lou Christie, Cannibal & the Headhunters.
    “More Love” – Kim Carnes, Paul Young, Barbara McNair, Mica Paris, The 5th Dimension, Rick Webb.
    “Ooo Baby Baby” – Linda Ronstadt, Brenda Holloway, Shalamar, Ruby Turner, Sylvester, Spirit Traveler, Five Stairsteps, Zapp, Laura Nyro, Ella Fitzgerald, Honey Cone, Human Nature, Fingazz
    “Shop Around” – Captain & Tennille, Don Bryant, The Astronauts, The Allusions, and Georgie Fame, Neil Merryweather and Lynn Carey , among numerous others.
    “The Tears of a Clown” – La Toya Jackson, The Beat, The Rocking Chairs, The Re-Bops, Nnenna Freelon, The Flying Pickets, Caligula, Human Nature, Enuff Z’Nuff, Eumir Deodato, Brian Ray, Marc Cohn, Phil Collins .
    “The Tracks of My Tears ” – Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Rivers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mongo Santamaría, Martha and the Vandellas, Bryan Ferry,Björns Vänner (as Ser Jag Ut Att Må Bra?), Dolly Parton, Boyz II Men, Human Nature, among many others
    “Darling Dear” – The Jackson Five.
    “Who’s Loving You” – The Jackson 5, En Vogue, Terence Trent D’Arby, Brenda Holloway, The Supremes, The Temptations, Honey Cone, Stevie B., Archie Bell & the Drells, Nikka Costa.
    ” You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” – Percy Sledge, Barbara McNair, The Beatles, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Zombies, Aidan Smith, Sonny & Cher, Mickey Gilley, Eddie Money, Cyndi Lauper, The Bobs, Greg Brown, Small Faces, Bobby McFerrin, Derrick Harriott, and She & Him among many others.
    “I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying” – The Who, Jimmy James.
    “From Head to Toe” – Elvis Costello, Chris Clark
    “A Fork in the Road ” – Rebbie Jackson
    “Way Over There” – The Royal Counts, The Temptations, Edwin Starr, The Marvelettes, New Man, Eddie Adams Jr.
    “(You Can’t Let the Boy Overpower) The Man In You” – Chuck Jackson
    “What’s So Good About Goodbye” – Giant Sunflower, The Temptations , Quix*O*Tic
    “More, More, More of Your Love” – Bob Brady & the Con Chords
    “Doggone Right” – Bobby Davis.
    “After All” – The Supremes, The Marvelettes.
    “Swept For You Baby” – The Sylvers, The Blenders, The Tamlins (as Sweat For You Baby).
    “The Hurt is Over” – The DT’s
    “Whatever Makes You Happy”- Jacki Gore, Steve Washington.
    “Save Me” – The Undertones
    “(You Can) Depend On Me” – The Temptations, The Supremes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway.
    “Baby Baby Don’t Cry” – Gerald Wilson and His Orchestra, Projekt.
    “Can You Love a Poor Boy” – Bobby Vee, Softones, Gil Bernal, Ronnie Walker.
    “Bad Girl” – Dazz Band.
    “That’s What Love Is Made Of” – Michael Jackson, Bobby Vee, Choker Campbell, The Magicians.
    “We’ve Come Too Far To End It Now”-The Escorts[disambiguation needed]
    “Here I Go Again” – Chazz Dixon, Carey Bell, A.J. De Bravo, Little Willie G., Oran “Juice” Jones.
    “Point It Out”‘ – The Supremes and The Temptations.
    “Got A Job” – The Marcels
    “Whole Lotta Shakin’ In My Heart (Since I Met You)” – The Hellacopters, Marv Johnson.
    “Give Me Just Another Day” – Young Jeezy (as the basis for his song, “Mr 17.5″)
    “Do It Baby”- Jimmy Ponder, Red Holt (of Young-Holt Unlimited).
    “Who’s Gonna Take The Blame” – Capone N. Noreaga (as the basis of their song “Live On Live Long”).
    References: Allmusic, The Covers Project, “Who Sampled” website.

    There are inducted artists that haven’t accomplished HALF AS MUCH… yet, The MIRACLES STILL ARE NOT INDUCTED (OR EVEN NOMINATED) AFTER 25 YEARS !!!

    Topkat

    July 6, 2011 at 13:58


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