When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was newly-established and first began inducting musicians, writers, producers, etc., back in 1986, the pool of contenders was like the selections in a really good candy store, and the first class of inductees was pretty much unfuckwithable. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers, Sam Phillips, Ray Charles, Jimmy Yancey, John Hammond, Alan Freed… it’s difficult to even place that list in a hierarchical order. And the inductees kept being good for several more years.
But in recent times, just knowing the nominees are about to be announced makes me cringe. A little piece of my soul shrivelled up when ABBA was inducted, and don’t even get me started on Neil Diamond. But who am I to say these music creators who make my skin crawl don’t deserve a place in the Incongruous Semi-Pyramid on the Lake? I realized that I was rejecting these artists based on personal preference when I attempted to debate with someone that his disdain for the choice of Public Enemy as a representative of the best of rock was wrong-headed. Yes, hip hop is not, specifically speaking, rock, but neither is soul, and I would volunteer to smack anyone who would deny the rightful place of Otis Redding in those hallowed halls.
(I won’t get into my torturuously conflicted feelings on the very idea of the Rock and Roll Museum, but if you’d like to play at home, you can begin by combining the fact that the Rockhall is one of my favorite places to visit in the world [I’ve been there approximately seven times and my first visit was six hours long] and my strong identification with John Lydon’s observation that something honoring the true heart of rock music should not resemble an ancient mausoleum.)
So, what do you think readers? What would be your criteria for inductees? Can you remain objective about such an emotional art form?
Here’s this year’s list of nominees, followed by a few videos from some of my favorites.
· Beastie Boys
· The Cure
· Eric B. & Rakim
· Guns ‘N Roses
· Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
· Freddie King
· Laura Nyro
· Red Hot Chili Peppers
· Rufus with Chaka Khan
· The Small Faces/The Faces
· The Spinners
· Donna Summer