The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation has announced its nominations for the class of 2012. More than 500 voters from the music business will take part in electing those who will be inducted at the 27th annual ceremony in April 2012. Who should get in? Who will get in?
Beastie Boys – At the rockhall.com website, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Joel Peresman said, “The 2012 Nominees embody the broad scope of what ‘rock and roll’ means. From vocal groups to hip hop, from singer-songwriters to hard rocking artists, this group represents the spirit of what we celebrate at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The “broad scope” is in fact too broad because it encompasses hip hop. Rap/hip hop does not have enough common elements with rock and roll to be considered rock music. However, because hip hop became popular from the 1980s going forward, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) is insisting on putting hip hop acts in the Hall. They already have inducted rap acts Grand Master Flash in 2007 and Run D.M.C. in 2009. The Beastie Boys are first and foremost a hip hop group who occasionally crossed the boundaries into rock. They should be in a future Hip Hop Hall of Fame but not the RRHOF. But they have been nominated before and may well be elected this time.
The Cure – They fall under the categories of goth rock, alternative rock and 70’s new wave. This is their first nomination and chances are they won’t be voted into the Hall. However, because they were unique and quite influential, they probably will be re-nominated and elected at some point.
Donovan Leitch – Although he started as a folk singer and a folk-rocker, his number one monster hit Sunshine Superman in the summer of 1966 helped launch the psychedelic era in rock music. He was very influential in getting the Beatles to explore Indian music and religion, and this had an impact on a whole generation of rockers and rock fans alike. Donovan enjoyed numerous hits such as Catch the Wind, Colours, Mellow Yellow, Hurdy Gurdy Man and Atlantis. He has been nominated before and certainly deserves to be inducted.
Eric B. & Rakim – This is a hip hop group from the 1980s with no real ties to rock music other than sampling James Brown’s grooves. Sampling other artists’ work certainly does not show any musical talent or creative ability. They should have no place in the RRHOF.
Guns ‘N Roses – Slash’s explosive guitar licks and frontman Axl Rose’s charisma were enough to catapult this hard rock band to the upper echelon of rock. Their best known songs may be Welcome To The Jungle and the number one Billboard hit Sweet Child O’ Mine. This is their first time eligible for the Hall of Fame (an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination, according to the RRHOF). This superstar group should be voted into the RRHOF without too much difficulty.
Heart – They certainly were something different at the time they began in the 1970s, a hard rock band fronted by two women, Ann Wilson on lead vocals and Nancy Wilson on guitar. They possessed a wide range of talent, seamlessly going from blistering guitar riffs to lush harmonies to power ballads to melodic folk efforts. They had two Billboard number one singles, These Dreams and Alone, along with other huge hits that included Magic Man, Never and What About Love. In dotting the landscape with six Top 10 albums and 20 Top 40 singles, they were pioneers who paved the way for women to feel comfortable in fronting rock bands. They should be elected to the class of 2012.
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts – Their smash hit I Love Rock ‘n Roll was a tribute to the genre and spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982. However, they didn’t produce enough other contributions to be elected to the RRHOF.
Freddie King – He comes from the world of blues. As a post-World War II bluesman, King had a strong influence on rockers such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana. Perhaps he could be inducted in the Early Influences category, the same way such notables as Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Professor Longhair and Lead Belly were selected. But he shouldn’t be elected in the rock performers’ category.
Laura Nyro – What a songwriter! The fact that she was nominated just last year and has been re-nomintated means she is being seriously considered. The problem is she has been nominated as a performer when her strength was as a songwriter. Artists to have major hits recording her material include The 5th Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand. There is a separate category for non-performers called the Ahmet Ertegun Award. She is certainly worthy of that honor but shouldn’t be voted in as a performer.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – They combined alternative rock, funk, hard rock and punk rock to become one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and 90s. Attesting to how highly regarded they are by the industry, they have garnered seven Grammy awards in various rock categories. They have also enjoyed great commercial success, selling over 80 million records worldwide and have had six number one singles on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. They have been nominated before and should definitely be admitted.
Rufus with Chaka Khan – In 1974 Rufus gave us the funky hit Tell Me Something Good. This song introduced many people to their sultry lead singer Chaka Khan. They are nominated in part because of the success of Khan in the group and as a solo artist. Despite being eligible for the Hall for 13 years, this is their first nomination. They probably won’t be voted in this time and may not be nominated again. They have a sparse body of work. If Smokey Robinson could be elected to the RRHOF without the Miracles, as he in fact was in 1987, then Khan, if elected, should go in by herself and not with Rufus.
The Small Faces/The Faces – Like Rufus, the Faces are noteworthy primarily because of former group members who went on to greater fame and fortune. In this case it was Rod Stewart and Ron Wood who both did stints with The Faces after leaving the Jeff Beck Group. The Faces’ best song was probably Stay With Me with Stewart on lead vocals. The Faces really did not do enough to deserve to be elected into the RRHOF. If the Hall is looking for another Beatles-era British Invasion band to induct, then how about the Moody Blues?
The Spinners – Like Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Spinners were on the Motown label but found greater success once they left Berry Gordy’s operation. In the case of the Spinners, their greatest success came on the Atlantic Records label. As one of the most successful R&B groups of the 1970s, the Spinners’ classic lineup of Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, Bobbie Smith and lead singer Philippé Wynne churned out the pop hits. Some of those hits were I’ll Be Around, Could It Be I’m Falling in Love, One Of A Kind (Love Affair), Mighty Love, They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play) and The Rubberband Man. They also teamed up with Dionne Warwick for a Billboard number one hit Then Came You. They waited a long time to be nominated and may not get in right away.
Donna Summer – Although known as “The Queen of Disco,” Summer had many hits, such as Hot Stuff, that were rock oriented. She was also the first female artist to have four number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart within a 13-month span: MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls and No More Tears (with Barbra Streisand). Her first U.S.-recorded album was produced by Quincy Jones and featured Bruce Springsteen and many other American rockers. She became the only artist who ever had three consecutive double-LPs hit number one. She has been nominated before and could well be elected this time.
War – Spill The Wine was their first big hit in 1970, and that was when they collaborated with ex-Animals lead singer Eric Burdon. After Burdon ended the partnership, War went on to have many hits, including Slippin’ Into Darkness, The World Is A Ghetto, The Cisco Kid, Why Can’t We Be Friends?, Low Rider and Summer . Their hits often fused rock with an Afro-Latin R&B groove. They probably won’t make the RRHOF this time but should eventually.
The most likely nominees to be elected for 2012 are Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns ‘N Roses, Heart, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Donna Summer. The announcement of the 2012 class should come in November or December.
The Billboard Book of Number One Hits 5th Edition, Fred Bronson, Billboard Books
The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, Craig Rosen, Billboard Books, 1996