Now we've spent countless pages here in the past dissecting the ways and means of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee ... and while some of our readers have expressed concerns that this is the "weakest class of inductees yet", I have to disagree. We have long campaigned for ABBA, Genesis and The Hollies as amongst the artists most "Deserving and Denied" these past several years. In fact, since we first made an issue of this, we've seen The Dave Clark Five, John Mellencamp and The Ventures similarly enshrined ... ALL of these artists long overdue for this recognition they so rightly deserve.
Sure, there are plenty left ... Chicago, The Guess Who, Neil Diamond, The Moody Blues ... Hall and Oates, The Monkees, Chubby Checker, Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Pat Boone, Linda Ronstadt, Three Dog Night, Tommy James and the Shondells (who has a couple of upcoming shows AT The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Museum, despite the fact that The Nominating Committee hasn't considered him worthy enough to actually INDUCT him!!!) ... the list goes on and on ... and if you've been reading Forgotten Hits for any length of time, you pretty much know the rest, so we don't really need to rehash it all here again today.
What we ARE going to do today is pick up the cause for two artists whose names don't typically jump to the head of the list when pointing out the complete injustice of who is selected for induction and who isn't even considered. However, I think that you will agree that, once you consider the track records of these two artists, there is NO way possible to deny that there's a more deserving pair for recognition. (I would just LOVE to hear The Committee's explanation as to why NEITHER of these great artists have never been so much as even nominated!)
So as our means of "Picking Up The Cause", we would like to submit the following two artists "For Your Consideration":
Hand-picked by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones ... by Little Richard and Ray Charles ... and handling sessions and / or tours featuring the likes of Aretha Franklin, Sly and the Family Stone, Bob Dylan and The Jackson Five ... every single one of whom is an inductee of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... how on EARTH can you deny Billy Preston a spot???
A few years back we shared a vintage video clip of a then eleven year old Billy Preston performing on The Nat King Cole Television Program ... he was already wowing audiences at this early age.
In the late '50's and early '60's, Preston toured the world as part of the back up band for artists like Little Richard and Ray Charles, earning a name for himself as an outstanding keyboardist. In Hamburg, Germany, he even crossed paths with The Beatles, striking up a friendship that would last for decades.
In the 1960's he performed as part of the "house band" on the hit television music series "Shindig" and sat in with legendary soul artists throughout the decade. In 1969, he was invited by The Beatles to sit in on their "Get Back" / "Let It Be" recording sessions and, for a short period of time anyway, The Fab Four set aside their personal differences and acted on their best behavior in front of their old friend from the Hamburg days. In fact, he even shared a label credit with The Beatles on their #1 Hit Record "Get Back", an otherwise unprecedented event in their long recording history.
As a virtual unknown to most of the folks in the audience that night, surrounded by musical legends and superstars on stage, Preston single-handedly stole the show at George Harrison's Concert For Bangla Desh, performing side-by-side with Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
Click here: YouTube - Billy Preston - That's The Way God Planned It (The Concert For Bangladesh)
Within a couple of years, he was scoring his own hit records on the charts ... instrumental hits like "Outa Space" and "Space Race" made Billboard's Top Five ... and powerful vocal treatments like "Nothing From Nothing" and "Will It Go Round In Circles" went all the way to #1. He had another Top Five Hit with the haunting ballad "With You I'm Born Again", a duet with Syreeta ... and wrote Joe Cocker's Top Five Smash (and modern-day classic) "You Are So Beautiful". Meanwhile, he was still regularly doing session work and tours with The Rolling Stones, The Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin and Sly and the Family Stone.
Click here: YouTube - Billy Preston - Will it go Round in Circles 1973 live Midnight Special
(Check out this Midnight Special clip ... at the very least, shouldn't Billy be inducted to "The Biggest 'Fro Of All-Time Hall Of Fame?!?!)
Sadly, Billy joins a VERY long list of worthy Hall Of Fame candidates who left us before they could enjoy the honor of their induction ... he passed away of kidney failure in 2006. The Hall seems much more focused on honoring the NEWEST artists as they become eligible, rather than recognizing the many, many artists who got us all here in the first place. (Recent discussion has centered on lowering the eligibility period from 25 to 20 years because there aren't enough exciting new names coming up every year anymore ... yet they continue to ignore literally HUNDREDS of deserving artists who helped to shape the very art form of rock and roll.)
When you talk about the "Deserving and Denied" list of artists who belong in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, please add Billy Preston's name to the list.
When Jeff Lynne formed The Electric Light Orchestra in the early '70's, he merged rock and roll with the classics ... and, in the process, put his own personal stamp on a new chapter in Classic Rock.
Fittingly, their first big hit was a rousing rendition of the Chuck Berry classic "Roll Over Beethoven", fully orchestrated and developed around Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. There was NOTHING else like it on the radio ... and Lynne, the creative force and mastermind behind ELO continued to blend orchestrated pop for the next two decades, scoring hit after hit after hit with with rock classics like "Do Ya", "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", "Strange Magic", "Evil Woman", "Showdown", "Livin' Thing", "Telephone Line", "Turn To Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Mr. Blue Sky", "Shine A Little Love", "Don't Bring Me Down", "Hold On Tight" and "Rock And Roll Is King", all staples of FM Classic Rock today.
Click here: YouTube - Electric Light Orchestra - Hold on Tight
(Hell, this one's so good, we can almost forgive the whole "Xanadu" thing!!!)
Click here: YouTube - Olivia Newton John & ELO - Xanadu
(I said ALMOST!!!)
And he surrounded himself in some pretty good company, too ... Jeff Lynne is the ONLY member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys NOT inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. His bandmates George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty have long since been enshrined ... and Lynne went on to produce solo albums for Harrison, Orbison and Petty as well. In fact, when the surviving Beatles decided to put together the Anthology Series and lend their musical talents to a couple of shelved John Lennon tracks, it was Jeff Lynne who they brought in to produce these sessions.
Click here: YouTube - Traveling Wilburys - Handle With Care
Click here: YouTube - The Beatles - Real Love [HD]
Lynne developed a very identifiable sound ... much like Phil Spector before him, you could immediately tell just by listening that you were hearing a Jeff Lynne production.
How is it even remotely possible that this man has not been recognized for the incredible body of work he has shared with music fans the whole world over?
Again, PLEASE put Jeff Lynne's name at the top of your list the next time you rattle off the artists most deserving and denied Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame recognition.