Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Next Year's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

We got the word bright and early yesterday morning ...

Jann Wenner & his Cronies Hall of Fame strikes again:
In the immortal words of Comic Book Guy: "Worst class ever!"
-- Ron Smith

That's right ... the OFFICIAL list of inductees going into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (in a ceremony being held on March 15, 2010) will be:

World-wide pop sensation ABBA, reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff, art-rock (and then very POPULAR rock) band Genesis, the long-overlooked British Invasion act, The Hollies and the "I guess the eighth time's the charm" Stooges.

Far more exciting (and some might say more DESERVING) are some of the sidemen / non-performers being inducted next year. Heavy on long-neglected and ignored songwriters, 2010 will see Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Otis Blackwell (who wrote some of Elvis' biggest early hits), Mort Shuman (whose most common songwriting partner Doc Pomus was inducted a few years ago) and Jesse Stone ... along with record mogul David Geffen.

In a concentrated effort NOT to repeat all my past rantings and ravings on the annual RRHF Inductees list, let's just take a look at what we've got here.

Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, probably the two BIGGEST surprises (or disappointments ... again, depending on your fence position!) would have to be ABBA and The Stooges.

We've been long-time supporters of ABBA taking their rightful place in The Rock Hall. (If I'm being completely honest here, I NEVER thought for a minute that they'd actually be inducted ... or even given serious consideration for such an honor. I just thought that in the minds of the powers that be, inducting ABBA would simply be perceived as the ultimate "un-hip" stigma ... and a number of rock purists certainly DO feel that way. On the other hand, maybe this is a subtle hint that there's still hope for this committee yet ... and that, over time, many of the other artists who regularly show up on our "Deserving And Denied" list will also find their way into the coveted Hall.)

Although sales reportedly don't matter, ABBA remains the biggest selling act worldwide in history ... and that's a pretty tough statistic to overlook or throw by the wayside. Their music has since transcended pop and rock, having been adapted to the incredibly successful stage and screen presentation, "Mamma Mia". (Wouldn't it be incredible if ABBA reunited on The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame stage to perform for FREE after turning down reported offers of up to one billion dollars to get back together for a satellite concert beamed around the world?!?!? Unlikely ... but incredible!!!)

On the other end of the spectrum, we've got The Stooges. This is, I believe,
their EIGHTH nomination. (I still think there should be a limit as to how many times an artist can be nominated and NOT be inducted ... at which point their name should permanently be withdrawn from the ballot. That's the way OTHER Halls Of Fame do it!) With absolutely ZERO hits to their credit, they represent the very anti-ABBA ... yet seem to have been a "pet project" of RRHF President Jann Wenner for YEARS now regarding their induction into what many consider (show of hands???) his own personal Hall of Fame Favorites.

This year's final ballot delegates Donna Summer, Laura Nyro, Kiss, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Darlene Love, LL Cool J and The Chantels to the "bridesmaid" position. For some of these artists, it isn't the first time they've come up short of the necessary votes to make the cut ... based on past experiences, the odds are it won't be the last.

A couple of this year's inductees weighed in on the various announcements I received yesterday ... here are just a few:

If you're surprised to see ABBA among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's next crop of inductees, join the club. So is Bjorn Ulvaeus, co-founder of the Swedish pop group.
"It's pretty unexpected," Ulvaeus said, reached by phone at home in Stockholm.
"It's a wonderful thing, of course. I'm slightly overwhelmed, considering the other people in the Hall of Fame. It's a fantastic thing."

"If the Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my heart would just be full of good feeling for [Hollies co-founder] Allan Clarke, one of the most underrated rock 'n' roll singers," Graham Nash said in an October interview, before the honor was official.

ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus said he and the other members of the group -- Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Agnetha "Anna" Faltskog -- have not discussed plans to attend the ceremony.
"We haven't had time to do that yet," said Ulvaeus, 64. "We wanted it to be official, then we'll get together and we'll talk about what we'll do. It's too early for me to say anything."
A consortium of concert promoters offered $1 billion to ABBA in 2000 for a 100-date reunion tour. The group declined.
Asked if there is a snowball's chance in hell that ABBA would perform at the Rock Hall gala, Ulvaeus laughed.
"I don't think so," he said. "I mean, we split up in '82, for heaven's sake. That's a long time ago.
"But as I say, we haven't talked yet, the four of us. So we'll see."

Iggy Pop says his band has been patiently awaiting this honor for some time. "We've been rejected seven times, and we would have set a record, I think, if it happened again," the Stooges' frontman tells Rolling Stone. "It started to feel like Charlie Brown and the football. I had about two hours of a strong emotional reaction after hearing the news. It felt like vindication. Then I kind of scratched my head and thought, 'Am I still cool? Or is that over now?' "

The news was quite surprising for the Swedish pop group ABBA. "I didn't think this would happen, because we were a pop band, not a rock band," says Benny Andersson, who helped found the group in 1970. "Being a foreigner from the North Pole, this feels really good."

The Hall of Fame has earned a reputation for convincing long dormant groups like Talking Heads and Led Zeppelin to perform at induction ceremonies. Though Graham Nash hopes to play with the Hollies for the first time since 1983 ("I'll be there with bells on," he says), an ABBA reunion is less likely; the group split in 1983 and has refused all offers to reform ever since.

"It's very tricky because Agnetha [Fältskog] is not flying," Andersson says. "The people who are really fond of ABBA for what we did, I think we are doing them a favor by not going out." He said he wouldn't completely discount a performance, but wanted to talk it over with the rest of the group. "It's 99 against 1 [odds], though."

A reunion of the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis, who haven't played together since a one-off in 1982, is more likely — however Phil Collins' recent medical problems have left him virtually unable to play the drums. "I don't think he'd be itching to play early 1970s Genesis music at the moment," says Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks. "Peter [Gabriel] is a bit elusive, but I'll probably talk to him soon and see if he has any concept of what he wants to do. I don't feel a great need to play. I'm happy just to drink."

ABBA, The Hollies and Genesis ALL made our "Deserving And Denied" List a few years back ... so we have to at least take SOME pleasure in rejoicing in their long-awaited recognition.

The Stooges?!?!? Come on!!! They've become the Susan Lucci of rockdom!!! We commented three or four years ago (in our well-publicized take on "What's Wrong With The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame") that The THREE Stooges are more deserving than Iggy's clan ... at least THEY can claim to have helped to inspire The Beatles' famous Mop-Top haircut (aka "The Moe"!!! lol)

Jimmy Cliff?!?!? He was, in fact, an international star (who seemed to catch on everywhere but here) ... and, in his genre of music, is considered a leader. Does he belong in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? Probably ... but not before so many of the OTHER artists who are continually denied consideration year after year after year.

Certainly artists like Cliff and The Stooges did more (and at a much more distinguished and inspirational level) than artists like Chicago, Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, The Moody Blues or any of these OTHER guys ever did!!! (It's kinda like my old argument ... when you go to name the most IMPORTANT Rock Artists of all time ... certain names are simply a given ... they simply roll off the tongue because they are SO deserving of this honor and recognition ... one cannot deny the importance and impact that they made of the genre:

Elvis ... The Beatles ... Leonard Cohen;

Chuck Berry ... The Beach Boys ... Percy Sledge;

Bob Dylan ... Little Richard ... Jerry Lee Lewis ... Bonnie Raitt;

Jimi Hendrix ... Buddy Holly ... Ray Charles ... The Velvet Underground;

I mean, it's hard to even utter another artists' name in the same breath as THESE top-drawer acts, right?!?!?

Chicago ... The Guess Who ... Neil Diamond ... oh wait ... these are artists that they've decided are not GOOD enough (or WORTHY enough) to be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Connie Francis ... Chubby Checker ... Pat Boone ... The Moody Blues ... Paul Anka ... Three Dog Night ... Linda Ronstadt ... The Monkees ... Tommy James and the Shondells ... Hall and Oates ... Neil Sedaka ... ELO ... artists who not only helped define a generation of rock music but also paved the way for so many that came after them ... ALL of these artists ranked high on YOUR list of artists worthy of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ... but have NOT been considered worthy enough for consideration by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee.

No sir ... instead, THEY'VE given us MEGA artists like Joe Tex ... LL Cool J ... Patti Smith ... The Stooges ... Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa to consider. Percy Sledge, Leonard Cohen, Bonnie Raitt ... "rockers" like Buddy Guy and Miles Davis (usually the first names springing from the lips of ANYBODY in the know being asked the magical question, "Who are some of the GREATEST rock and roll artists of all time?") How 'bout The Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, The New York Dolls and Parliament / Funkadelic??? ALL of these artists were considered worthy enough to garner either a nomination or induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by their knowledgeable nominating committee.

If you polled a random group of 100 people on the street, how many do you think could sing a song by The Stooges? Afrika Bambaataa? The Velvet Underground? Ask those same 100 people to sing something by Chicago, Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, Paul Anka, Linda Ronstadt, Hall And Oates, The Moody Blues or Tommy James and the Shondells and I expect you'll find a completely DIFFERENT result. No, it's NOT a popularity contest ... we know, we've heard it all before ... but which music made the GREATER IMPACT to the greatest majority of people? Which music had the most profound impact on this ever-developing art?

We're not here to slam The Hall today ... quite honestly, each year since our series first ran they've inducted more and more artists from our "Deserving And Denied" List. (To date The Hollies, The Dave Clark Five, ABBA, Genesis, John "Cougar" Mellencamp and The Ventures from our Top 40 "Shoulda Beens" have all been inducted since we first raved out three years ago. That's 15%!!! Can Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, Chicago, The Moody Blues, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, Yes, Heart, Pat Benatar, Johnny Rivers, ELO and Grand Funk Railroad really be that far behind? The times ... they just MAY be a-changin'!!!)

Once again the R&RHOF embarrasses itself by elevating into nomination artists of either marginal or zero rock 'n' roll importance (such as previous ridiculous inductees Leonard Cohen, The Velvet Underground, etc.). This time the chaff among the wheat includes two-(minor) hit wonder Jimmy Cliff (how did this turn into the Reggae Hall of Fame?) and the zero hit flop band Iggy & the Stooges. And the headline on Rolling Stone's news story announcing this travesty OPENS by trumpeting the WEAKEST of the pack (The Stooges) while ignoring the immensely far more qualified Hollies. There isn't space here to list all the deserving acts the HOF has routinely passed over for years (The Raiders, The Moody Blues, etc.). Other letters printed here will do that. Maybe the HOF's idea is to wait until enough of the important rockers they routinely pass over have died, thus denying them the honor while still alive (as happened with key members of the Dave Clark Five and others). It's really unfortunate that such a good idea as the R&RHOF has deteriorated into simply a list of the performers on Jann Wenner's personal iPod.
Gary Theroux