Rock And Roll Hall Of Sham: No, I Don’t Mean Shame, But That Fits, Too

by Garv on December 11, 2012

Rock-N-Roll HOFBack in 1986, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inducted its first class, which consisted of Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, John Hammond, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Sam Phillips, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Yancey, and, of course, Elvis Presley.

Since then they’ve named many, many more people to their ranks. And yes, the majority of them deserve to be there. But for every couple of people or groups who are correctly inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, there are at least one or two who are, in my opinion, inducted incorrectly, or outright snubbed.

The ‘incorrectly’ bit comes simply from the type of music these people performed. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I love almost any type of music as long as it’s done well, and the people who have been named to the HOF are all great at what they do. My problem comes from the fact that what they do isn’t rock and roll.

Robert JohnsonLet’s look back at the initial inductees, the Class of ’86. James Brown was named ‘The Godfather Of Rock And Roll’. No, wait – he was ‘The Godfather Of Soul’. Robert Johnson sold his soul down at the crossroads so he could learn to play the rock and roll guitar. Oh, no, wait – that was the blues guitar.

Again – don’t take this the wrong way. I love James Brown, I love Robert Johnson – but what these guys did was not ‘rock and roll’. Did it influence rock and roll? Undoubtedly. Would rock and roll have come about without the influence of Johnson’s delta blues? My Magic 8-Ball™ says no. But it was not rock and roll.

The next year, 1987, among the inductees were Aretha Fanklin and Hank Williams. I’d be willing to bet that if Aretha ever were ever asked what style of music she sang, her first answer would not have been rock and roll. And while Williams certainly lived the rock and roll lifestyle, his music was unequivocally country. Again, people whose music I love, but it just doesn’t fit.

“But Garv – blues and soul were the foundation of Rock and Roll! Without these people, rock and roll would have never evolved into what it is today!”

That’s true. I completely admit that. And that is why I’m nominating the T-rex for the ‘Chicken of the Year’ award in 2013. Same thing, right?

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious FiveSo let’s say the forerunners of rock and roll are eligible for the HOF. I’ll allow it, if only momentarily. I do agree, they’re very important. But how do you explain Michael Jackson, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Madonna, and Run-D.M.C.?

If we say the other inductees were forerunners of rock and roll, then what do we say about these people?

And then, to take my second point into consideration (being snubbed), how did Madonna make it into the ‘Rock And Roll’ HOF before Rush, who have been making actual rock and roll music since 1974?

How did Run-D.M.C. make it into the ‘Rock And Roll’ HOF before Alice Cooper? How did Michael Jackson make it before Lynyrd Skynyrd or Black Sabbath?

Black SabbathI keep reiterating this point, and I’m doing this because I know people are going to complain about the examples I’m using, but once again, I have nothing against the people who have been nominated and inducted. I simply think that many of them are in the wrong HOF, and they’re taking up space that should be filled by actual rock and roll musicians.

The Pro Football HOF requires players to be inactive for at least 5 years before they’re eligible; the same with baseball. I’m aware that, with the exception of Mick Jagger on stage, the only thing NFL, MLB and Rock and Roll have in common are the price of the tickets. But let’s have a quick look at some of the more contemporary groups who are still active and are already in the ‘Rock and Roll’ HOF.

Guns N’ Roses (2012) – let’s all try to pretend that this wasn’t some insane idea to try to get the band to perform together again in hopes that we can really cash in on ticket sales! Red Hot Chili Peppers (2012), Metallica (2009), John Mellencamp (2008), R.E.M. (2007), U2 (2005)…

KISSDo these bands deserve to be in the “Rock and Roll’ HOF? Most certainly, they do. Do they need to be there yet? Probably not. Not when you look at the people who aren’t in yet and have had a much, much more profound effect on rock and roll. Where are bands like Iron Maiden and Deep Purple? Where the hell is KISS? (Love them or hate them, there’s no arguing that KISS changed the face of rock and roll in the 70s – no pun intended). Did Bonnie Raitt deserve to be inducted before  Queen? Before The Ramones?

I look at this and realize that I’ve turned it into a bunch of rambling, so I’ll stop here, and I’ll leave you with a congratulations to ‘Rock and Roll’ HOF inductees to the class of 2013:

Rush (it’s about damn time), Heart (same to you), Randy Newman (longevity award, I guess?), Public Enemy (because when I think Rock and Roll, I think Flava Flav), Donna Summer (who can forget the classic rock and roll song ‘Bad Girl’?), Albert King (another forerunner, but I’ll let that one go), Lou Adler and Quincy Jones (both men who worked behind the scenes – you’ll not see me griping about them).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to that great rock and roll composer Mozart.





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