Late last month, the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced, and despite the fact that the so-called honor of being nominated (or inducted, for that matter)
means virtually nothing at all, the new potential class was met with disdain and controversy. Rock critics are about the least forgiving crowd you’ll ever find.
Let’s review, shall we?
First time nominees (note: an artist isn’t even eligible until 25 years after his/her/their first studio work):
- Guns ‘n’ Roses (Appetite is a quarter-century old? Holy hell.)
- Joan Jett (with or without the Blackhearts)
- The Cure
- Eric B and Rakim
Also on the list:
- The Spinners
- The (Small) Faces
- Freddy King
- Rufus with Chaka Khan
Those who have been nominated more than once:
- Beastie Boys
- Laura Nyro
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
There are several limbs missing from this picture.
Now, I don’t have time or patience to review all these choices, and many legit rock journalists have already commented before me. But here is what I’m thinking:
Every year, it seems to me that an artist merely has to hang around and wait long enough and nomination/induction will surely happen. One-hit wonders from the 60s are getting inducted now, making me think that Lou Bega and Deep Blue Something will make this list in 2030. Though obviously, the musical landscape has much more depth and breadth these days. Still. Donovan? Barely a step above Fabian, which is to say a 20th-century Justin Bieber. War? The Faces? Sure, they begot Rod Stewart but before that, they had just minor blips on Billboard’s radar.
And clearly I know that’s not what it’s all about – chart success is akin to box-office receipts, and if these were the only qualifications for superlatives, The Hurt Locker wouldn’t have ever won anything.
Five of these artists will be the inducted class this year, and if I had my way, it would be the following folks: Beastie Boys (inspiring Jewish rappers everywhere); Guns ‘N’ Roses (yeah, they fizzled most epically, but Appetite was the seminal rock album of the last 25 years); The Cure (somehow making New Wave mopier and yet more popular); Rufus/Chaka Khan (funk pioneers); Red Hot Chili Peppers (sure, they are lightweights now, but were among the first to blend hard rock and rap. Kid Rock and Korn thank you).
This leads to another discussion; if we look ahead to, say, 2025, who would make the first ballot? What artists have hit the scene in the new millennium and will stand the test of time in order to be honored thusly? What do y’all think? Let me ruminate on this and get back to you next time.