The Reasons (the second part of, I dunno, maybe three?)
So I was discussing this with my girlfriend, bemoaning the fact that the Tap was again overlooked. She agreed with me, but then said “I didn’t know they were a real band.” I started to say that they weren’t, but then thought, why aren’t they? They performed live, play their own instruments (quite well, actually), wrote their own songs, have released a few albums (the first one in 1984) and do, in fact, rock.
But there’s no Nigel Tufnel, he’s the Right Honorable Christopher Guest! But why should that matter? Robert Zimmerman from Minnesota can become freewheelin’ troubadour Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village. Jim Morrison created a mythology about himself that his parents died when he was young, when they actually outlived him. Gordon Sumner did the same when he began to become popular as Sting. None of the Ramones last names are Ramone, and David Bowie changed his name from Jones to avoid being confused with a Monkee (Not to mention his time spent as Ziggy Stardust, or the Great White Duke). I hate to break this to you, my small circle of readers, but Bono and The Edge are not their birth names, nor was Stevie born with the last name Wonder. Did any of these pseudonyms make these artists less worthy of hall-dom? Will the fact that Dr. John is not legally able to practice medicine keep him from joining this year’s inductees? (R.I.P. to Captain Beefheart, who I can find no mention in his obits of having served in the military or the merchant marine and is not related to the famous Beefheart family of Essex). Are the Beatles later albums excluded because Paul died in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike who continues to impersonate him and formed Wings? I don’t think so! There’s a element of Rock and Roll that is about re-inventing yourself, about artifice. It’s part of the freedom and liberation it offers.
“But you’re not getting it,” you say. “Michael McKean and Harry Shearer are actors!” But Elvis acted, The Beatles acted, does that make any of them less worthy of being in the hall? Did anyone say: “I’m not going to vote for Madonna because Swept Away (or just about anything else she’s been in) was so painfully bad”? The hall does not, has not and should not require exclusivity to the medium of music as an artistic endeavor. If anything, falling back on a career in acting has been a reputable refuge for rockers. Mick Jagger, Sting, “Little” Stevie Van Zandt, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Diana Ross, and even Bob Dylan have all tried to work in front of the camera, with varying degrees of success, let’s be honest. (Shout out to Creed Bratton, lead guitarist for 60’s non-RnRHoF band The Grass Roots, for his journeyman work on The Office — and speaking of The Office, did you know Ricky Gervais was in an 80’s synth-pop band (Seona Dancing) that charted in the UK? Nothing to do with anything, but they will not make it into the HoF).
My brother-in-law (who has a very promising academic career and does not want to be named in this blog) pointed out that Spinal Tap first gained fame as actors in the movie, not as musicians. Okay, sure. But so did Ice-T: That’s right, he was in the TV Series “Fame” in 1983, and then in Breakin’ and Breakin 2:Electric Bugaloo (both in 1984) before he released Rhyme Pays in 1987. You gonna keep Ice-T out of the HoF? Best not, if you know what’s good for you. Didn’t think so. Yeah.