Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rant #590: Rock and Roll Hall of Shame

Let's get one thing out of the way right away: Michael Jackson's bizarre behavior killed him, and although Dr. Conrad Murray certainly fed into this behavior by giving the pop star certain drugs to help him sleep, he simply did what he was told to do and was paid to do.

Jackson is guilty of his own death because he insisted on being sedated beyond normal precautions. Trying to pin this all on Murray is like saying former President Bill Clinton didn't have a sexual relationship with an intern while in office because he didn't consider what he did sexual.


Now that that is out of the way, let's look at this year's nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Well, maybe let's not.

Oh, what the heck, let's give it a go: Guns N' Roses; the Beastie Boys; the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts; Eric B. and Rakim; the Cure; Donovan; Heart; Freddie King; Laura Nyro; Rufus with Chaka Khan; the Small Faces/Faces; the Spinners; Donna Summer; and War.


This has to be the worst slate of nominees ever in the history of the supposedly hallowed HoF, which is constantly soiled by Jann Wenner's penchant for picking those he likes rather than those who deserve to get in.

Certainly, some of these acts have merit for inclusion in the HoF. I would say that the Red Hot Chili Peppers should go in because they fused funk with rock and roll in a way that even the now homeless Sly Stone couldn't even have imagined when he laid the groundwork for this to happen 20 years earlier. Donovan should go in, because his body of work shows that he was far beyond "the British Dylan," mixing folk and psychedelia better than anyone. Heart should certainly go in, as they paved the way for female rockers from the 1970s on.

Laura Nyro's fusing of rock, pop, soul and Broadway has certainly never been even approached. And yes, the Spinners were the last of the line of top-flight Motown-style acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops, even though they had their biggest hits on the Atlantic label (they did start out at Motown though, and their earliest hits were there).

But Eric B. and Rakim? Joan Jett and the Blackhearts? Guns N' Roses?

C'mon, the HoF should be able to do better than that.

Not that I, personally, thought they would gain a nomination, but the Monkees--and at least Michael Nesmith, if not the whole group--should get in. They fit the criteria of being influential. Musicians like Tom Petty and David Byrne have cited them as influences, and no less than Brian Wilson has said they belong in the HoF.

And their high profile reunion tour--well, three of them--this year certainly put them back on the map.

But nothing.

Another act that should have at least been nominated is Paul Revere and the Raiders. They are the "missing" link from late 1950s rock and roll to early 1970s rock, and they were highly influential. You just know that Van Halen was watching these guys on TV when they were growing up.

There are others who deserve nomination, but the current slate simply misses the point entirely.

Eric B. and Rakim?

What is that all about?

We go through this every year. The polls say who should be nominated--this year, Goldmine magazine listed the Monkees as the people's top choice--and then we get dreck like this.

To knowing rock and roll fans, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is little more than a joke.

However, the joke isn't funny anymore, and hasn't really been funny since the Dave Clark Five fiasco of a few years back.

I would tell Wenner to lighten up, and listen to the people, because rock and roll is the people's music, not just his.

Would he listen?

Probably not.

But once again I will say this ...

Eric B. and Rakim.

Case closed.

By the way, I am taking tomorrow off for the beginning of the Jewish High Holy days. This commences with Rosh Hashanah, which comes tonight at sundown. The holiday lasts two full days, and leads up to Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, which comes next weekend.

So there will be no talk of Michael Jackson and no talk of rock and roll tonight at my dinner table, just a look back at the past year, and whether we have lived up to God's belief in us.

I hope my family and I have done so.

I really do.

Speak to you on Friday.

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