The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be chosen from the following nominees, as reported by USA Today: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, KISS, LL Cool J, The Meters, Nirvana, N.W.A., The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, YES, and The Zombies. Let’s see what major omissions the Hall made from this list of nominees.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s identity crisis. In recent years Joel Peresman, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Inc., has emphasized the broad range of rock and roll when releasing the names of the nominees for the Hall. As he said in 2012, the nominees are “a fantastic array of groups and artists that span the entire genre that is rock and roll.” He has felt obliged to say these kinds of things because he is operating against the backdrop of strident voices on social media constantly carping about this person or that group not being rock and roll. One of the saddest realities about the state of today’s music is how many misguided souls think of rock and roll as just “white dudes with guitars,” and that anyone who doesn’t fit this narrow description is not doing rock and roll. This mindset is an abomination, and most people who think this way grew up on early MTV or later, when the music was fragmented and re-segregated. They certainly need to study the history of rock and roll music and learn of its African-American origins.
Better British Invasion Choices Available. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is fond of nominating and electing the British rock bands that latched onto the coattails of the Beatles and rode the crest of the wave between 1964-67. This year the Zombies have been nominated. They gave us “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “Time of the Season.” They were decent, but there are much stronger British Invasion groups who have yet to be elected. Among these are the Moody Blues, Procol Harum, and even Gerry and the Pacemakers. For example, the Moody Blues, on every level and category you could think of, contributed far more than the Zombies.
No Motown Acts for 2014. Realizing that Motown songs like “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops are the very definition of rock and roll music, the RRHOF has been generous in the number of Motown acts it has nominated and elected over the years. However, the Marvelettes, who were nominated last year, Mary Wells, and the Commodores are quality Motown acts still on the outside looking in, and all would be worthy nominees.
No girl groups. When it comes to women, the RRHOF did a very poor job with these nominations. No girl groups are being considered this year, and Linda Ronstadt and the female members of Chic are the only ladies nominated. When we think of girl groups, we usually imagine the early Sixties gals who did not write their own music or play their own instruments. But in addition to that, a more contemporary view might also include women strumming guitars, pounding away on drum kits, and writing their own material. Looking at it from that vantage point, the Bangles, arguably the best girl group from the 1980s, would be an excellent group to nominate and induct.
Chubby Checker. He was the undisputed king of dance music during the early 1960s, and everyone from Madonna to Miley Cyrus owes a debt of gratitude to him. There are critics who claim Checker is not “rock enough.” But in the pre-Beatles years, Checker’s style of dance music, along with doo wop, was the rock and roll of the era, and he even had the word rock in song titles such as “Limbo Rock,” and in lyrics to “The Twist.” Sometimes people forget just how huge a rock star he was.
No American rescue acts. There were several American groups who helped take back the music charts from the British during the last half of the 1960s. But these successful groups seldom get nominated for the RRHOF. Some of the best ones not yet elected are Three Dog Night, Chicago, and the Turtles.
Bon Jovi. The New Jersey singer and his band have been nominated before and they need to be nominated again very soon. They were much more successful and influential than the vast majority of the 2014 nominees.
Doo-Wop acts. When it comes to getting elected to the RRHOF, doo-wop groups are largely ignored and punch far below their weight. The beautiful harmonies from the street-corner sound are a cornerstone of rock and roll, yet these doo-wop performers from the late 1950s and early ’60s are largely neglected by the RRHOF today.
Fans can vote. As was the case last year, fans can cast ballots for the Class of 2014. The top five vote-getters will be listed on a fan’s ballot that will be counted alongside the secret ballots of roughly 600 voters from the music industry. Those voters will be composed of critics, historians, music industry veterans, and previous inductees.
Linda at last? Of those who received nominations for the RRHOF this year, the best choices for election are Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, and Chic, who hope their eighth nomination will be a charm. Is it just a coincidence Ronstadt was nominated for the very first time just weeks after announcing she has a serious illness? If Linda is elected, she could stick a dig into the RRHOF by saying something to the effect that if she had known all it would take to be inducted into the Hall was to publicize her illness, she could have done that a long time ago. But she has too much class to do that. She wouldn’t do that. Would she? Kidding aside, this has the makings of a pretty strong class.
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