The reasons (part one of a much too long series)
For some time, I’ve been on a campaign to have Spinal Tap inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RnRHoF). This year, especially when Neil Diamond was chosen to be inducted, I felt a particular sense of outrage. Maybe outrage is a bit strong, but none the less, as much as I enjoy the occasional Neil Diamond song (“Sweet Caroline,” That song from The Jazz Singer), he’s not a rock ‘n’ roll star. He’s just not. He maybe rocks sometimes, probably rolls once in a while, but he is not rock and roll. Not that the Rock and Roll Hall is that rocking either all the time, it’s made some selections that are, to me, mystifying. But I’m not the ultimate authority on Rock and Roll, so until now, I’ve let it go. But no longer! It’s time the Tap got into the Hall!
A bit of history; in the early 80’s a few things happened. First a guy said: “There ought to be a hall of fame for rock and roll!” Since that guy was Jann Wenner, owner and publisher of Rolling Stone and über-boomer, it happened. Then, in 1984, This is Spinal Tap was released (featuring a band that first performed in 1979). Since then Mr. Wenner and his posse have continued the HoF, building a museum in Cleveland and inducting over a hundred groups and/or solo artists (none actually from Cleveland). Spinal Tap has done pretty well for itself since then. The movie didn’t do well in its theatrical release, but has since done very well on video and DVD, to the point where it was selected to be a part of the National Film Registry in 2002, and becoming famously cited and admired by numerous rock bands.
But one project has aged better than the other. The RnRHoF has generated controversy not for its rock and roll-ness, but for its boring-ness. Many people bemoan the lack of induction of their own personal favorite bands (Rush, Kiss, The Monkees, that band whose song you really like but you’re afraid if you tell people they will think you’re super lame), or complain that others took too long to get in (The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Tom Waits). Some protest there are too few artists of color in the Hall, while others insist there are just too many groups in the hall (There is ample evidence to support either claim). Some have claimed that popular acts take priority over influential ones so more tickets can be sold, but in fairness, it is the “Hall of Fame” not the “Hall of Influence.” In 2007 there was a report that suggested the Dave Clark Five was pushed aside for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, but I think the voters just forgot to put on their reading glasses and got the two “Five” groups confused (Don’t worry, Dave Clark Five-anatics, they made it in 2008).
Meanwhile Spinal Tap has managed to occasionally tour and put out albums and other projects. The film has been honored on several “top” lists (Empire Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times and three different AFI lists). Both Tom Waits and the Edge claimed the movie made them cry, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Ozbourne, and Eddie Van Halen among others have attested to the verisimilitude of the film saying events in the film had actually happened to them. Often cited as one of the prime (but not first) example of a mockumentary, its influence can be seen in Borat and “The Office.” They’ve played live with David Gilmore and members of Metalica, and have been covered by Soundgarden. If that’s not a rockin’ résumé, I don’t know what is.