Faithful readers of this blog know I'm all for letting everyone into the Hall of Fame. I can't see the silliness of having to decide these things. Sure, folks like Elvis Presley and John Lennon are pretty obvious, but then there's a question of what to do once the music gets away from itself. Besides, isn't it a bit presumptuous to fall for the idea that Elvis Presley invented rock n' roll? Try reading Nick Tosches' Unsung Heroes of Rock n' Roll, for starters, and then figure out what Billy Joel is doing here.
But, as I said, I'm all for letting everyone in. That includes garage-bands who made one great single and synth-pop bands who made five terrible albums. You can't institutionalize a music that's supposed to be about rejecting institutions. As far as I'm concerned, if a guy who was in The Frost wants to fill out the forms to get into the Hall of Fame, then his band should be in.
I sympathize with KISS fans. For every rock critic and journo who calls them silly and stupid, there's a kid somewhere who genuinely liked them. Personally, I got over them. But let me put it this way: do you think my dad would've voted for Gene Vincent? Boomers mocked the previous generation for "not getting it" and then they make all kinds of excuses for the music they like, which somehow includes The Eagles?As you can see, there will be a list coming of people not inducted who should be.
For now, let's look at this unusual list.
Bon Jovi: As a straight guy, Bon Jovi does nothing for me. I'm immune to whatever charms these dullards might possess. They work every cliché imaginable into the faux-cowboy dirt their fantasies rest on. I guess "Livin' On a Prayer" could be considered a "one-hit wonder," except there are others. This may be the one band I'd consider an exception to my rule that everyone gets in. Can they at least sit in the back?
14) Laura Nyro: Not rock n' roll. Folk music. OK by me. But I can understand why Foreigner fans get a little grumpy, even if Foreigner are provably worse than most of the acts here. Elton John likes her.
Donna Summer: I know, she's disco. But doesn't that mean that the Hall of Fame would get pretty boring pretty quickly if all they allowed in were strict "rock" acts? If we're going to start acting that way, then technically just about every act after the mid-1960s shouldn't be here since they rarely played any Chuck Berry. If you don't know the work of Chuck Berry, I have to quit you.
12) Neil Diamond: Isn't there some kind of long drawn out battle over whether or not Neil gets in? Or is that The Monkees? Sure, Diamond is all showbiz. And Billy Joel is what?
Beastie Boys: There have got to be at least two-dozen genuine rappers from the streets of NYC who the Beasties would surely want to include before themselves. Why not ask them who they are and let them in?
10) Donovan: Another freaky folk dude who made some great studio sides. Not a whole lot of loudness going on here, but, I suppose, the Academy or whatever they call themselves (The League of Voters?) wish to preserve the hearing of their audience. A little late in my case. But thanks.
LL Cool J: Is this where people start to talk in code and say they want to take their "music back"? LL Cool J was as much of a rockstar as anyone. He looks and acts more like one than those sleepy guys in R.E.M. (R.E.M. were always a little sleepy.)
8) The J. Geils Band: Is this one of Jann Wenner's picks? I'm OK with them getting in, considering they were once a good R&B band from Boston. Of course, "Centerfold" is probably their calling card. But who can blame someone for getting it backwards?
Darlene Love: Darlene Love is now known as the singer who shows up on David Letterman's Comedy Hour with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra to sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," a tune she recorded with U2. She also performed with the Crystals back in the 1960s. The group was produced by convicted killer and funny wig-wearer, Phil Spector. I say she gets in because she's a girl! Who doesn't like girls?
6) Dr. John: Not a real doctor, but he plays one on records, Dr. John is best known for his hit, "Right Place, Wrong Time," which I first heard on an album called Heavy Metal that featured such other great HM acts as Yes, Blues Image and the Faces. He's now well-known for appearing on the HBO series Treme. He lives in New Orleans, just like Tom Carson, who is not in the Hall of Fame.
Chic: I thought they might have made it in last year, but I guess some groups have to wait. Yeah, yeah, a dance band, as if Rock n' Roll wasn't designed for dancing but for people to analyze lyrics all day. So, what do they mean when they sing, "These are the Good Times"? Are they promoting the TV show?
4) Chuck Willis: He didn't want to hang up his rock n' roll shoes, so we should automatically let him in. He was promoting this sort of thing before any of us were even born.
Tom Waits: Once a beatnik, then just a high-class weirdo, Tom Waits has evolved into the guy that NPR go to when they want to prove they don't just love bland singer-songwriters. He makes a great guest on David Letterman's Comedy Hour on the television and, by all accounts, he's been a decent husband to his wife, Kathleen Brennan. If Tom gets in, the Hall just got a whole lot dirtier.
2)Alice Cooper: I'm rooting for Alice because "School's Out" alone should gain him entry. But then there's the Love it to Death album that made his name. The stuff before it was pretty crazy and some of the stuff after it. His stage show was ridiculous. Why not?
Joe Tex: Not to be confused with Joe South, Joe Tex is a performer who is often considered the state of Texas' greatest contribution to soul music, since he was known for talking over Police hits. No, no, just his own stuff. "Hold What You've Got," "Skinny Legs And All" (a Tom Robbins novel?) and "I Gotcha" were among his hits. If Joe Tex doesn't get in, can I file a petition?
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