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December 26, 2018

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building in Cleveland, Ohio The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building in Cleveland, Ohio

Update December 2018: 

The new class of 2019 has been announced. Good arguments can be made for most of those who are going in. It was especially good to see that The Zombies were finally selected. They are one of the most underappreciated groups in all of Rock. Rod Argent, who had a successful solo career, is excellent on the keyboards. Lead singer Colin Blunstone has one of the most impressive voices in all of music. They both expressed delight and surprise at being selected. Both were sure that at this point they would never be picked.

It does seem that, for some unexplained reason, the selection committee doesn’t like the great classic rockers. Just look how long some of the super stars of Rock were kept waiting. Steve Miller and Yes should have been selected back in the 90’s. It is hard to believe that some artists that are already in the Hall of Fame were selected before a group like Ten Years After.

In the interest of full disclosure, Ten Years After were friends of mine long before they made it in the late 60’s. They themselves will tell you that I was the first to play their music in this country and played a large role in helping them become a success.

Having said that, let’s look at the facts. In a comparison to those who are going in as the class of 2019, Ten Years After are much better musicians, put on a better live show, have sold more records and if ticket sales count for anything, have sold more tickets as a headliner. In fact in the early 70’s they were among the biggest grossing bands on tour. They sold out the Spectrum here in Philadelphia several times. In one of those shows the opening act was Led Zeppelin.

They were also one of the very few bands that were selected to play in the Newport Jazz Festival and by many accounts stole the show with their performance at Woodstock. Still, they have not even been nominated. It is a shame. Below you can read my further feelings about the Hall of Fame that I wrote previously. Please feel free to leave your comments.

The 34th annual induction will take place on March 29, 2019 at the Barclay in Brooklyn, NY. Once again the induction will be televised.

Update April 2018:

The 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 in Cleveland. Videos can be found here.

Update December 2016:

The class of 2017 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been announced and all is set for induction ceremony in New York on April 7, 2017. The induction will also be televised.

Original story:

Every year the announcement of the new inductees brings with it hot debates as to who belongs and who doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. For the most part the Hall of Fame has done a pretty good job of selecting new members. My complaints pretty much come down to two things. The first is the timing of the selection. Too many times (like this year’s inductees Yes and The Electric Light Orchestra) the selections should have been made much sooner. The bigger complaint is that too many of those already in the Hall don’t deserve to be there simply because that are not true rock artists. This year’s pick of Joan Baez is a good example. There’s no doubt that Joan is a super star, but she is a folk singer and not a rock star. Can you think of any rock songs that she ever did? There’s already a singer/songwriter Hall of Fame that suits her talents much better.

Of course, it could be argued that there is no real definition of what constitutes Rock music. It is different for almost everyone, but picking artists who are way beyond the borders of Rock music doesn’t make sense. For me the music has to have a bit of a rough, raw edge. It doesn’t matter if it is rocking hard or an emotional ballad, the music must be played with feeling and excitement. No overproduction either. There’s should be some originality. It also helps that you can actually play the music on your instruments and not rely on machines or the sampling of others.

The tipping point was the practice of selecting those who do not belong was 2007 with the selecting of Hip hop/rap artist. Grandmaster Flash. The act has talent but could hardly be called Rock and Roll. Nor should Tupac Shakur who is going in this year. Same goes for Disco and pop artists. This was especially madding when many so many true Rock greats were and still are being ignored.

To a certain degree the selection committee is faced with a smaller pool to pick from. Looking to the future there are very few modern artists that deserve to be selected. There aren’t many that come to the top of my mind that might deserve to be selected sometime in the future. The current music trends are a lot more pop than rock. Once you get past Jack Black, The Black Keys and Wilco there is slim pickings. There’s hardly another Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc out there today.

Rather than argue with the R & R Hall of Fame, I’d like to select my own Rockers that I think are worthy. This Hall of Fame will be for true rockers only. Many are already in the Hall in Cleveland, but many are not. Some of those on list are not rock performers, but have made major contributions to the music. Please feel free to pick your own or comment. That is what makes the whole thing fun.

  • Chuck Berry - no question from anyone on this.
  • James Brown - some might question that he was an R & B artist, but go back and listen. He and his Fabulous Flames really rocked.
  • Ray Charles - soul and rhythm. Great mix of Gospel, R & B and Jazz. Ray was good at them all.
  • Fats Domino - took boogie piano to a new level.
  • Johnny Johnson - never got the credit for his piano work on all the Chuck Berry tunes.
  • The Everly Brothers - wrote the book on rock harmony
  • Buddy Holly - one of the leaders in combining country and R & B to help create a whole new sound.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis - one of the early colorful figures that could play piano with the best of them.
  • Little Richard - like Jerry Lee, Little Richard was one of the first outrageous acts that made it possible for others to follow. More on Little Richard here.
  • Louis Jordon - his work in the 40’s is considered to be the early ground work for rock. He combined R & B and Rocking beats with a great sense of humor. I can’t believe he isn’t in the R & R Hall. He belongs there ahead of many who are.
  • Elvis Presley - while his later work was pop more than rock (John Lennon said it best when he said Elvis died when he went into the Army), his early work that made him the first real superstar of Rock and Roll can’t be denied.
  • Eddie Cochran- there’s no telling how big Eddie would have become if his life hadn’t been cut short. In a very short career he was a big influence.
  • Gene Vincent- who was seriously hurt in the same accident that killed Eddie Cochran, was the first to play a more frantic, guitar driven Rock.
  • Cliff Gallop - who provided the perfect wild guitar to match Gene’s Vincent’s voice. Cliff was a major influence on artists like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
  • Bo Diddly - the Bo Diddly beat became a staple among many rockers for years. He was a much better guitar player than given credit during his many years of performing with only a drummer and some maracas.
  • Aretha Franklin - one of the very best voices in music. She showed she could put it to good use in Rock as well.
  • The Coasters - thought by many to be a novelty group but some of their best material was never heard or hidden on a B side of one of their many hit singles. Read the article on them.
  • Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller - the most successful songwriters in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.  They not only wrote most of the hits for The Coasters, but in all had over 70 hit songs on the charts during their run.
  • Bill Haley and His Comets - many would argue that Haley was the first Rock star. He and his very talented band were the first to successfully combine Country and Swing Jazz in one of the biggest selling records of all time “Rock Around the Clock”.
  • Rick Nelson - while you may argue that Rick Nelson was nothing more than the first pretty face Rock star created by TV, but Rick made a major contribution to the genre. His backup band, The Stone Canyon Band, went on to be the building blocks for The Eagles.
  • Roy Orbison - was the first rocker who could sing with the best of any singers in any genre. One of the pillars that created at Sun Record Company.
  • Carl Perkins - the very best at playing the new Rock-a-Billy of the 50’s. His major hit “Blue Suede Shoes” was the very first rock to be a hit in all three music charts-Rock/pop, R & B and Country.
  • Johnny Cash - some would question that Cash was more of a Country star than a Rock star, he was a major player in getting the Rock and Country blend to the masses.
  • Sam Phillips - would there be any Rock and Roll without Sam’s foresight? Well, maybe, but there’s no question Sam was one of the most important figures in Rock history. His Sun Records were responsible for many major stars (Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, & Jerry lee Lewis) that he discovered and built the music from the ground up on a shoestring. For more on Sam Phillips click here.
  • Leonard and Phil Chess - Chess Records was every bit as important to the development of Rock music as Sun or any other label. These two brothers worked hard to get Blues and Rock and Roll off the ground. What a list of talent that they discovered. For more on the Chess brothers click here.
  • Willie Dixon - a major player for Chess Records. He wrote most of the big Blues classics. In addition he produced and played on most of them. Many Rock stars played Willie Dixon songs. Dixon once put out an album that was called I AM THE BLUES. He didn’t get any arguments from anyone.
  • Jackie Wilson - one of the most high energy performers in rock/R & B history. It was fitting that he collapsed on stage (The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ) and died after being in a coma for a long period of time.
  • Smokey Robinson - the poet of Motown. His soulful ballads and dance music rocked an entire generation. He was the major reason that Motown Records became a giant in the industry.
  • Big Joe Turner - one of the many early R & B/Blues artists that influenced an entire generations of singers in rock.
  • Muddy Waters - one of the most copied styles ever in music. The blues giant was one of the major reasons that Rock ‘n’ Roll was off spring of the Blues.
  • Howling Wolf - there’s never been a more unique voice in all of music history.
  • Beach Boys - Brian Wilson was a genius at creating vocal and musical harmonies. While the early lyrics were often infantile, the music never was.
  • Hank Ballard - along with James Brown put King Records in the foreground of funky rock. Ballard was not only the originator of the Twist, but had a string of great songs in that same time period.
  • John Lee Hooker - the list of those rockers who not only admired this boogie blues man, but learned from him is seemingly endless. Hooker’s “cool” performance was in great contrast to the exciting rhythms he created.
  • The Motown sound of The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Impressions, and Stevie Wonder - all belong in the Hall. You should also include the man behind the sound, Berry Gordy.
  • Marvin Gaye - another soulful and smooth but emotional rocker.
  • B. B. King - one of the many Blues artists that helped pave the way for Rock and Roll. More on BB here.
  • The Four Seasons - pop rock that took the best of pop, gospel and do wop to create a sound that was extremely popular.
  • Wilson Pickett - his singing style was a big influence on many rockers. Great combination of rock and R & B.
  • Ike & Tina Turner - while much is made of Tina’s singing and spectacular stage presence, Ike was very much a building block in the early days as a songwriter, musician and producer.
  • Booker T and The MGs - this group not only had some hits as a unit, they are considered to be one of the best studio bands in rock history. They were the sound of Stax Records.
  • Sam & Dave - when you think of the Stax hits, this duo has to be top of the mind. Their Rock/Soul approach to the music was very unique and influenced artists like Bruce Springsteen.
  • Isley Brothers - forerunners and major players in Rock & Soul.
  • Larry Williams - should be in the Hall of Fame but isn’t. The New Orleans sound that he was a major player in was very much enhanced because of Larry. He was one of John Lennon’s idols. The Beatles did some of his songs as a result. More on Larry Williams here.
  • Lloyd Price - another one like Larry Williams who was an influences on many rockers that followed him. Unlike Larry, Lloyd had several big hits.
  • The Ventures - the first instrumental group that made it big. Their guitar work was an inspiration to many guitarist that followed.
  • Paul Revere & The Raiders - many might cry foul on this pick thinking that they were too pop, but this band when they were rocking were one of the best garage bands ever.
  • Otis Redding - he wasn’t around long enough to have a lot of hit records, but what he did sparked many others. For many Otis was the best Rock/Soul artist ever.
  • Jimmy Reed - another Blues artist that paved the way for Rock and Roll. Jimmy was copied after being one of the first Blues artists to have hit records.
  • Les Paul - didn’t even like Rock very much and never recorded a Rock record, but his guitar and other sorted inventions took Rock to a new level.
  • Tom Dowd - one of the most inventive and smartest producer/engineers ever. The list of people he worked with is very much like a who’s who of Rock.
  • George Martin - speaking of producers, this man deserves much of the credit was the success of The Beatles.
  • Etta James - this woman was such a pioneer. She could belt out a Blues Rock tune with the best of them and could then turn around a melt you with a soulful ballad.
  • Link Wray - considered the father of the power chord that became a stable for many rock bands. His guitar work is often singled out by many guitarists that picked up the guitar after hearing Link’s big hit “Rumble”. He is not in the Hall of Fame, but made more of a contribution than some who are. For more on Link Wray read story in archives here.
  • Duane Eddy - like Link Wray, Eddy help popularize the guitar with his many instrument hits.
  • Curtis Mayfield - was one of the very best at funky rocking soul. He made the change from the old R & B to a more modern style better than just about anyone.
  • Isaac Hayes - more than his own music, his behind the scenes work as a writer and producer merits a place in the Hall.
  • Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes - the girl group that all the others followed. Ronnie has since done a lot of work with her many friends that really rock.
  • Phil Spector - no debating the genius of this man’s studio work. All these years later, no one really understands how he created his wall of sound.
  • The Righteous Brothers - one of the many creations of Phil Spector. The term “Blue Eyed Soul” came from their fantastic combination of voices.
  • Hall & Oates - took “Blue Eyed Soul” to a new level. Philadelphia’s own became the biggest selling duo in the history of Rock.
  • The O’Jays - the top of the “Sound of Philadelphia”.
  • Simon & Garfunkel - were surpassed by Hall & Oates, but Paul remains one of Rock’s best songwriters.
  • Sly & The Family Stone - no one was better or had more impact on the funky rock scene than this band. In large part because of Sly, funk became real popular.
  • Earth, Wind & Fire, War and The Average White Band - also combined Rock, Funk, Jazz and Soul to create a very unique sound that went beyond anything that before or after them.
  • George Clinton and his two groups, Parliament and Funkadelic - the genius of George was creating a more progressive Funky Rock sound.
  • Al Green - his very simple, soulful style brought him huge success.
  • Bob Marley - made the sound of Reggae Rock known to the world. Great live performer who could really fire up a crowd. One of the very best concerts I ever saw.
  • The Bee Gees - could be looked upon as a disco group, but their music went far beyond the dance fad. Their early music and brotherly harmonies are among the best ever.
  • The (Young) Rascals - were among those who grew up with the music. Their music became better after their initial success as a young group.
  • The Stable Singers - who made Gospel, Funky Rock. They were around for a long time injecting their brand of Gospel into many R & B and Rock bands.
  • Miles Davis - the Jazz giant belongs in the Hall for his Funky fusion of Jazz and Rock. He was also a big influence on many rockers. See the story of top Jazz albums that influenced rockers in this website’s archives.
  • Weather Report - some of Jazz’s best players were in the foreground of a new form of Fusion Rock.
  • Return to Forever - like Weather report, RTF were fantastic Jazz players who came up with a new and exciting music.
  • Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears - also combined Rock and Jazz but more in line with traditional big band sounds.
  • Prince - might be consider pop by some, but his style of Rock combined many elements.
  • Procol Harum - the most successful band at merging Classical music and Rock. They were among the forerunners of Progressive Rock and should be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Ten Years After - during the early 70’s they were among the biggest grossing Rock bands on tour. They stole the show at Woodstock and are among the best live bands ever. No one played their instruments better than TYA. They belong in the Hall of Fame and it is a mystery why they haven’t been given much consideration. More on TYA here.

Here’s a list of Classic Rockers who need no real explanation:
Bob Dylan, The Beatles (all of them together & separate), The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Jeff beck, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Cream, Van Morrison, The Animals, Black Sabbath, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Elton John, Steve Miller, Rod Stewart, The Allman Brothers, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, The J. Geils Band, The Velvet Underground, Buffalo Springfield, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Mamas & The Papas, Santana, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Cheap Trick, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Aerosmith, Queen, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, ACDC, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Bad Company, The Police, Jackson Browne, Z Z Top, Deep Purple, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, Traffic, The Pretenders. U2, Blonde, Lynrd Skynrd, R. E. M., Patti Smith, Van Halen, John Mellencamp, Genesis, The Moody Blues, The Hollies, Alice Cooper, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Guns N Roses, Heart, The Cars, The Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Pearl Jam. Bachman,Turner Overdrive, Steve Winwood, Foreigner, and Journey.

You will note that some artists who are in the Hall of Fame in Cleveland are not listed. Disagree? Let me know your thoughts.

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