And so what are the requirements for entry into the hall? A band must have released their first album 25 years previously and… that’s it. There’s a committee that chooses eligible artists for their “significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll” and then sends ballots to more than 500 rock ‘experts’. Apparently they didn’t want to go with “The Rock and Roll Hall of Impacting Evolution, Development and Perpetuation.” The top vote getters with over 50% of the vote get in according to their website. Usually 5-7 performers or groups. The past few years have been for acts that were previously overlooked; none of this year’s inductees released their first album in 1985, or in the 80’s for that matter, nor did any of last year’s. That’s reasonable, because everyone knows there were no new or significant artists from the 1980’s. Not The Cure, Bon Jovi, INXS, Depeche Mode, Billy Idol, X, XTC, etc. (not a band, just a Latin abbreviation). Certainly not for baby boomers who were starting families, listening to oldies radio and not going to clubs or listening to new music.
Not to belittle that generation of music fans, but there was a legitimate change in music in the 80’s, not to say that there weren’t changes in the 60’s or 70’s. (more…)
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”? (more…)