I can distinctly remember during my college years, reading an article in Rolling Stone magazine that the founder and owner of the magazine, Jann Wenner, was going to start a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, my thought back then, as twenty-year-old was something along the line of “Do we really need something like this?” and “Isn’t rock music a living and breathing animal that continues to rewrite its history to fit the times?” Of course, I did not yet have the perspective that Wenner and his cronies had of age, nor did I have an understanding of the trends of rock music and how genres can cannibalize itself into extinction. But, now that I am officially a senior citizen, at least to some restaurants I am, I finally have enough perspective to understand the great vision that Wenner, et. al., had when they began to plan for this monument to the dominant form of music of the second half of the twentieth century.
Much like jazz and big band music before it, rock has finally blown a tire and is a slowly vanishing genre that will continued to be created, though in a much more minor genre. We are now living in the age of hip hop. And, that music is dominating every sound that is released today, be it pop, EDM, rock, jazz, and, yes, even country. Listen to the rhythms of the latest big song in your favorite genre, and you will hear a hip hop beat. The beat is now the driving force for music, as melody, guitar power and that old “meat-and-potatoes” rock sound is being lost to the ages. And, that’s okay people. Sure, it’s not our “cup of tea,” but, honestly, who’s parents liked our music? Yes, I did catch my mom dancing in the kitchen as I was playing the Sex Pistols one day in high school, but she still preferred to listen to Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow. So, now our music is on the oldies station, much like Rihanna will be in twenty years.
So, what I am trying to say is that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was really a great idea. If only other musical genres had the foresight to start their halls of fame back when they were peaking. Regardless, the original vision of the RRHOF was to be a living and breathing organism, with five to ten inductees each year. Initially, the pool of important talent was so small that the artists to be inducted were obvious. But, as the years past, the number of eligible artists grew until we ran into the problem we have today: a backlog of deserving artists awaiting their special moments as they hope to beat Father Time’s clock on their lives.
Plus, if you want to take a great little getaway, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a great place to go. The design of the place is breathtaking, and the exhibits are mind-blowing. Although I have not been there since 2003, after which I said, jokingly I might add, that I was not coming back until Cheap Trick was inducted (finally happened in 2015!), I really want to get back to see everything again. It is a fantastic day visit, and, according to Son #2’s in-laws, they want to go back with me so I could enlighten them more on some of the exhibits. “Enlighten” indeed! More like bore them to tears. Anywho…
Lately, I have been wasting blog space (wait! I do that anyway!) a couple of times a year bitching about who was nominated for induction and who wasn’t. How many times do I have to say that the whole group Chic still needs to be inducted; inducting Nile Rodgers is NOT enough! Also, how can Bon Jovi be inducted before Def Leppard, when the Lep created the sound that Jovi ripped off? Likewise, with nearly every commercially successful Motown artist inducted, why are Mary Wells (“My Guy”) and the Marvelettes (“Mister Postman”) are left out in the cold? Yes! I can do this forever! But enough all ready! What can be done to improve all of this? Let’s search for solutions! Well, I think I have one, but it probably will not go much farther than here. Yet, here it is anyway.
To start, the Nominating Committee needs to agree on 20 to 30 names each year. Next, continue to let the fans vote on the nominees, but let’s acknowledge these people’s collective voice and induct the Top Three Vote-Getters. After that popularity contest, let the Induction Committee select one inductee from each of the following seven categories: Legends (Pre-Rock Era Influences and those whose popularity peaked in the Fifties and Sixties), Influences (Artists from Blues/Country/Jazz), Classic Rock/Pop, R&B/Soul/Funk, Heavy Metal, Rap and Alternative Rock. I believe this will ensure a great mix of artists so the Induction Ceremony will actually become an annual “must-see” event, possibly even garnering interest from the general public. This will slow down the rate of Classic Rock artists being inducted, while possibly increasing the number of people of color’s presence in the Hall. Let’s face it! The prospect of Willie Nelson, The Rock & Roll Trio, The Spinners, Whitney Houston, Judas Priest, Eric B & Rakim and Smashing Pumpkins being inducted with Janet Jackson, Def Leppard and Styx is pretty damn exciting.
I guess, the Nominating Committee might need to be arranged around the categories, but then again with so many brilliant musical minds involved that kind of specialization need not be addressed. Additionally, I would love to see two more non-performer inductees happen each year. First, their should be a non-performer, such as a producer, engineer, manager, disc jockey, VJ, executive, etc., who’s vision and performance advanced rock music. The other should be the recognition of a rock journalist. Some of these people did brilliant work reporting on the music we love and hold so dearly. It is time that people such as Dave Marsh, Cameron Crowe, Lisa Robinson, Lester Bangs, and so on, should be immortalized for the work they did letting some scrawny Midwestern kid read about artists in England back before the internet days let just any yokel, like me, write about music.
I wish I had a much bigger platform to yell this idea from, but, alas, I do not. All I can do it hit “Publish” and send this out into the ether for others to see. This is the one entry I wish would go viral. Here’s to wishing upon a star!