Yesterday there was an announcement made, about the nominee's for the 2011 Rock 'n Roll hall of fame. The thing that was interesting wasn't the nominations, although the fact that Neil Diamond has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet is just crazy. No it led me to look at all the inductees, and be very puzzled.
You see the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, selects nominee's based upon certain criteria...
Those being Leaders in the music industry joined together in 1983 to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. One of the Foundation’s many functions is to recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll by inducting them into the Hall of Fame.
However for performers (there is a non-artist category too) the criteria include...
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.Ok so lets look at those people who are inductee's well there are a few that can't be argued about on the influence and significance of their contributions, Leonard Cohen springs to mind for example, or Black Sabbath, or David Bowie, or the Clash. All who have had a significant impact on music, whether it's your specific taste or not is not relevant.
The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 500 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
Now then there are other acts in the RnR HOF that you look at and scratch your head (now don't get me wrong these are good acts, nothing wrong with them, in fact there are some who's entire back catalog I own), like for example Aerosmith, great band, great sound, but what's their influence and significance over and above others in the same vein that being upbeat guitar rock punctuated with power ballads. One of the nominee's from this year was in exactly the same vein Bon Jovi (yes, yes I know, but they are one of life's secret guilty pleasures) who incidentally weren't inducted. At around the same time as Aerosmith were forming their style there was also Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey and others who were similarly upbeat guitar rock and power ballad bands and who are also still going, and as far as concert spectacle, well then they're up against Kiss (who are also strangely missing from the RnR HOF). So what is it that makes a RnR HOF band... I'm not sure, but enough bashing of Aerosmith, lets look at some that are in there, that at least make me go "hmmm".
The Animals, great band, came from my home town, Hall of Fame...? not in my opinion, "House of the Rising Sun" and "Please Don't let me be misunderstood" aren't really enough to my mind, and they weren't especially innovative.
Genesis, another great band, did some early experimental stuff with Peter Gabriel when he was the vocalist, along the lines of Yes and Jethro Tull, but their later work was certainly more of a straight commercial sound probably heavily influenced by Collins. So are they inducted for their experimental period, when Yes and Jethro Tull were far more so and Gabriel's solo work is at the same and better levels, and these are not inducted? Or for commercial success?
The Pretenders, once again great band, but HOF nope, catchy tunes and a melding of punk and new wave styles, but they weren't especially original, and another band that's in there did this far more effectively that band being The Police.
The Sex Pistols (What! you don't think that they should be in the RnR HOF???? are you insane...? Nope). The Pistols were unique, and sure they had a huge influence (so did fellow RnR HOF members The Ramones), but they were primarily a vehicle for Malcolm McLaren, who is not in the RnR HOF. Musically they were nothing, as proven by the firing of Glen Matlock to be replaced by Sid Vicious, who until he was hired as a Bassist had never played any guitar.
U2 (another shocker), Ok so Bono has the future of being cannonized, but what has U2 added to music in general? Sure they've done punk, new wave, and culminated in the sound that comprised the Joshua Tree, then went experimental with Achtung Baby and into loops and samples with Pop, but nothing was better than other bands that were in the same genres. Yes they have a message, that's changed over time from the re-unification of Ireland to world peace. So have many others. They have a big stage show, similar to many others, so is it just that U2 do all these things as a single band? Maybe, I don't think they're RnR HOF material, but like I said I'm not sure what the criteria are.
Ok so you can see my points on a few of the bands in there... Now lets look at some notable absences...
Deep Purple, I mean there's Black Sabbath in the RnR HOF, and there's Led Zeppelin in there too, the three biggest influences on Heavy Metal and one of the three is missing, there's not even a nod to Blackmore or Gillan in any alternate vehicle they played with.
Motorhead and Iron Maiden, any of the "thrash" metal bands will state both of these bands as primary influences, in fact Metallica who are inductee's have said many times that they're primary influences. So why are they not in the RnR HOF?
Kiss, I already mentioned them, musically dull (I-IV-V blues progression), but they did it with such aplomb (and an every changing line up). They also had the #1 stage show perhaps ever, they started the whole merchandising deal too, with comic books and action figures, and a movie. They're not in the HOF. Without Kiss then there likely would be no Arena stage shows of the types we have today, that include Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, and the usual suspects of Metallica, U2, and other rock bands.
Rush, is this because they're Canadian. Individually the members of Rush have received just about every award going, for musicianship, and songwriting. Name any other band who's drummer is the primary lyricist. Name any other band that has had the influence of Rush both as individuals and as a band, I would suspect that there is not a rock drummer on the planet that does not want to play as well as Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson is a very highly regarded guitar player, and some of the more innovative bassists cite Geddy Lee as a strong influence.
Sonic Youth, perhaps one of the biggest influences of underground rock music. Incredible musicianship, they're often described as this generations Velvet Underground. They've also been inducted into the Library of Congress with their album Daydream Nation.
Anyway I'm totally bemused, perhaps it's best described in the following quote, from one of the non-inductee's and as yet non-Nominee's ever, Paul Stanley of Kiss
The beauty of America is that you can basically start any kind of private club you want to. This one happens to be called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a very impressive name for a club but it's an illusion. It's the creation of a group of industry people and critics who decide who they deem as qualified to be in their little admiration society. It's their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's not the people's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Have you ever voted? I know I haven't. That's why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, besides having people who very much belong in there, have an abundance of people who most people will scratch their head and not even have a clue who they are. I don't have anything against anybody who's been inducted, but more than a couple of them are a joke. A band or musician's impact is measured by how they change and influence society and other musicians. That and how many albums and concert tickets they sell should be what gets them into the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned it's a private club with a misleading name. It's a sham.