My Fantasy Ballot for Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All-Time

As I said in my last blog entry, this summer has been kicking my ass. If anxiety concerning the pandemic weren’t enough, my body has decided to do a double whammy on me. Normally, there are really four side effects to my chronic pain: a rising in my blood pressure, a sudden retention of fluids resulting in joint swelling (think Verruca Salt in Willy Wonka), a sudden decrease of my potassium level and a depletion of testosterone in my body. The first two are normally just irritating inconveniences, and when my testosterone bottoms out, I feel like one of Batman’s nemeses Mr. Freeze, who must remain in sub-zero to stay alive. That is the symptoms which is the most cumbersome, since I will be hot all of the time and sweat profusely, especially when exposed to temperatures over 80 degrees and high humidity. Yet, it is the potassium that can quickly become life-threatening since our hearts need the ion in order to maintain a proper rhythm.

Yet, much to my chagrin, this summer I have gotten to experience a combination of side effects making it very slow going when attempting to wade through everything. Needless to say, when my potassium and testosterone levels are being treated, the effects will not be felt for another four to six weeks. Since all of this affects my energy level, I have not felt much like writing, let alone doing a little Google research on my topics. Which leads me to today’s topic.

Within the past week or so, Rolling Stone magazine, once one of the leading magazines in the world concerning rock music and youth culture, decided to blow up their previous Baby Boomer-centric Top 500 Songs of All-Time lists in much the same manner that their editors did to the magazine’s vaunted Top 500 Albums of All-Time list last year.

I remember when the last of the two lists were released in the magazine at the dawning of the new millennium, which seemed to be as good of a time as any to undertake such an endeavor. Since my boys were either still in high school/middle school or college/high school (in other words they were still wards of the household), we would discuss the two lists often. And there was one complaint in which we all agreed: Boomers had too much power in deciding which acts appeared on these lists. It was as if both Generation X and the Millennials had only been given passing nods to those generations’ likes and dislikes. Thusly, the Album List of the day had artists like Quicksilver Messenger Service, who meant absolutely nothing to the two younger masses. Additionally, hip hop was WAY underrepresented on either list, which made the younger crowds roll their eyes.

Therefore, as rock and roll moved into its seventh decade, it was time to create both lists that better represented the newer developments in music over the past two decades since the last lists. Unfortunately, again, I noticed that Generation X was slightly snubbed on the list of voters for both lists. On the other hand, not only were the Millennials represented, but I noticed a smattering of Gen Z members on the official list of voters. If one were to compare any and all Rolling Stone All-Time lists prior to the most recent versions to the current ones, the new lists seem as if the old ones had be completely torn apart. And, let’s face it, that SHOULD happen. Let me be honest for a moment: I have NEVER felt that The Beatles’ seminal Sgt. Pepper album was the greatest album of all time. I feel as though that album belongs to the Boomers, whereas Abbey Road, Revolver and Rubber Soul all speak more clearly to members of the younger generations than Pepper. Hell, ALL younger generations would rather listen to The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd or Marvin Gaye’s timeless protest album What’s Going On, rather than the hippie hodge podge of Sgt. Pepper. So, those kinds of changes are represented in the current lists, as are groundbreaking hip hop songs like “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message,” as well as the albums by Wu-Tang Clan and Outkast.

All of this leads to the true purpose of this blog entry. According to the rules for the Top 500 Songs of All-Time list, the editors of Rolling Stone sent out ballots to musicians, DJs, producers, engineers, industry executives, rock journalists, etc., for the people list their 50 favorite songs without any ranking. Then, the votes would be counted, tabulated and ranked from 1, which song got the most votes through 500, representing the song with the fewest votes.

Much like many of my colleagues and fellow Rock Music bloggers and podcasters who did not get an official ballot, I have decided to list, in alphabetical order according to artist name, my list of my 50 favorite songs. Let me state right now that limiting oneself is a chore and nearly an exercise in futility. Initially, I came up with a list of around 110 songs. Then, I began to whittle down the list. Overall, the elimination process was easy until I got down to 66 songs. That’s when it started to stress me out a bit. Honestly, it took me more time to get rid of 16 songs from my list that it did to eliminate the first 44.

After I got the list down to 50, I waited 48 hours for new songs to pop up to be evaluated by my ears. Once I got through those 6 extra songs not originally on my list, I was able to finalize my unofficial fantasy ballot for Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All-Time. Before I get started, let me first acknowledge the brilliant Tom Lane for the idea to undertake this exercise in futility, and, second, this list is limited to a single song by an artist, thus eliminating several songs by the same group of artists. Finally, this is just my opinion and feel free to bitch all you want in the comments section. Here we go!

  1. Beastie Boys – “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” (Licensed to Ill, 1986)
  2. Big Star – “Thirteen” (#1 Record, 1972)
  3. Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
  4. Bruce Springsteen – “Rosalita” (The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, 1973)
  5. Cheap Trick – “Surrender” (Heaven Tonight, 1978)
  6. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Everytime You Go Away” (Voices, 1980)
  7. David Bowie – “Suffragette City” (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972)
  8. Donna Summer – “I Feel Love” (I Remember Yesterday, 1977)
  9. Duran Duran – “Hungry like the Wolf” (Rio, 1982)
  10. Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon” (Ocean Rain, 1984)
  11. Elton John – “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” (Too Low for Zero, 1983)
  12. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (Armed Forces, 1979)
  13. Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams” (Rumours, 1977)
  14. George Michael – “Freedom ‘90” (Listen Without Prejudice, 1990)
  15. Hüsker Dü – “Makes No Sense at All” (Flip Your Wig, 1985)
  16. John Lennon – “Imagine” (Imagine, 1971)
  17. Kiss – “Rock and Roll All Nite (live)” (Alive! 1975)
  18. Marvin Gaye – “What’s Goin’ On” (What’s Goin’ On, 1971)
  19. Metallica – “Enter Sandman” (Metallica, 1991)
  20. Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean” (Thriller, 1982)
  21. New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle” (Brotherhood, 1986)
  22. Parliament – “Flash Light” (Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome, 1977)
  23. Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb” (The Wall, 1979)
  24. Prince – “When Doves Cry” (Purple Rain, 1984)
  25. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)
  26. R.E.M. – “It’s the End of the Whole as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (Document, 1987)
  27. Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (Road to Ruin, 1978)
  28. Rick James – “Super Freak” (Street Songs, 1981)
  29. Roxy Music – “More Than This” (Avalon, 1982)
  30. Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the U.K.” (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, 1978)
  31. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – “Tears of a Clown” (Make It Happen, 1967)
  32. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love” (Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, 1982)
  33. Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” (single, 1979)
  34. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime” (Remain in Light, 1980)
  35. The Band – “The Weight” (Music from Big Pink, 1968)
  36. The Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (Pet Sounds, 1966)
  37. The Beatles – “Strawberry Fields Forever” (single, 1967)
  38. The Cars – “My Best Friend’s Girl” (The Cars, 1978)
  39. The Clash – “London Calling” (London Calling, 1979)
  40. The Cure – “Just like Heaven” (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987)
  41. The Jam – “Going Underground” (single, 1980)
  42. The Knack – “My Sharona” (Get The Knack, 1979)
  43. The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980)
  44. The Rolling Stones – “Miss You” (Some Girls, 1978)
  45. The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now?” (Hatful of Hollow, 1984)
  46. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (My Ever Changing Moods, 1984)
  47. TLC – “Waterfalls” (CrazySexyCool, 1994)
  48. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “The Waiting” (Hard Promises, 1981)
  49. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love” (Tom Tom Club, 1981)
  50. U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (The Joshua Tree, 1987)

Go check out the Rolling Stone list to see how many songs on my list did NOT make theirs. Peace.

The 80s: The Decade of the Charity Single & the Benefit Concert

Benefit concerts and songs were not invented in the Eighties, that credit goes to George Harrison in the early Seventies when he recorded “Bangla Desh” and organized a concert, and subsequent album, for the war- and natural disaster-ravaged country of Bangladesh. The whole thing was a bungling mess as far as a relief for that nation, yet it was something of a success artistically speaking as that album picked up the Grammy for Album of the Year. Still, the whole thing did plant a seed of responsibility within the rock community, especially in England.

Sporadically, other concerts were held to raise money for various charities, which reached an apex in 1979 with the No Nukes concert and album and the Concert for the People of Kampuchea and it’s album in 1980. No Nukes was held at Madison Square Garden in NYC with the likes of the Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt leading the way, with the help of a couple of young up-and-comers by the names of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Both the concert and album achieve its goal of slowing the proliferation of nuclear power here in the States. As far as the Kampuchea concert was concerned, the concert and album were great, but I really do not know well all of it did for the people of Kampuchea.

Band Aid

After those two ran their course, the benefits kind of died down until the Winter of 1983 when the BBC ran a story concerning the Biblical famine taking place in Ethiopia and some surrounding countries. For one of the first times in human history, the images of a devastating national disaster on another continent were being transmitted around the world via new technology based upon satellites in orbit in space. Those images were so powerful that they moved two musicians to compose a song for the upcoming 1984 Christmas holiday to be performed by an all-star band in order to raise money for famine relief. Those musicians were Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof and Ultravox leader Midge Ure, and together the pair wrote the granddaddy of all charity singles “Do They Know Its Christmas?”

That single went onto to become the biggest-selling single in UK history, but it has since been surpassed by Elton John’s loving tribute to Princess Diana “Candle in the Wind 1997.” Now that Sir Bob Geldof (or St. Bob, as some deridingly call him) had a Feed Africa campaign rolling, he got Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, arguably the two biggest pop stars in the world at the time, to create an American version charity single. Since Jackson was still riding high with Thriller, he turned to his producer to help direct this endeavor. All the big names that were invited showed up except for Prince. Yet, Prince did take a public relations hit, but, of course, he probably really did not care.

The musicians and singers met in January after the American Music Awards concluded to record “We Are the World,” the American’s entry into the charity single sweepstakes. The single sold well but did not set any sales records in the States. However, it was all over radio across the major formats and plastered seemingly every 15 minutes on MTV.

Hear N’ Aid

Shortly after USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” ran its course, it was time for the Canadian song “Tears Are Not Enough” by Northern Lights. And, then, the inevitable arrived. Some heavy metal vocalists got together as Hear N’ Aid to record the criminally overlooked “Stars.” The Northern Lights song sold well in Canada but did not make much noise outside of the Great White North. I blame it on David Foster and his massive ego as a songwriter. He gave that esteemed group a piece of his usual schlock, then removed the soul of the song and singers until what was left was just another Peter Cetera-sounding single of the time. That’s unfortunate because he had a veritable Who’s Who of Canadian rock at his fingertips with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Helen Reddy, Gordon Lightfoot and Geddy Lee of Rush, to name a few. At least Quincy Jones knew to back out of the way and let his iconic singers do what they do best. Hell, Foster told Neil Young to redo his vocals because Young was a flat. At least Young had the balls to remind Foster that’s how he sings. So, to me, that’s what made the whole metal single so much more endearing because these great yellers did what they did best and the producer got out of their way.

Now that the music world was fired up about feeding the world, Geldof went to work to organize the biggest benefit concert ever. His idea was to have simultaneous concerts connect by satellite transmission to the other stadium. Plus, this thing would be broadcast throughout the world on ABC, MTV, BBC, etc., etc., etc. Upwards of a billion people would be able to watch this event that was broadcast from London and Philadelphia on 13 July 1985. Of course, there were glitches and the concerts were supposedly boycotted by Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder due to the lack of diversity in the performers. What we got was essentially a last gasp of classic rock (white) radio acts attempting to raise money for this devastating famine.

Can you believe that Live Aid took place without performances by Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Prince, the Big Three of that time period. Additionally, where were Van Halen, Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, Diana Ross, Rush, Kurtis Blow, Kool and the Gang (the only band to participate on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World”), and all of the big alternative bands at the time like R.E.M., The Smiths, The Replacements and The Cure. Okay, so the lineup was not perfect. Reminder, neither was Woodstock’s lineup. But, those who did perform was great, outside of that stupid Led Zeppelin reunion (boy, did they EVER stink!).

On the plus side, there was this brand new singer who was just beginning to make some noise, and that was Madonna, who showed that she was the real deal. Another act who made a major statement in order to propel themselves to superstardom was U2, who just up their time so Bono could have a HUGE TV moment by going into the crowd to slow dance with a young lady.

As great as those moments were, as well as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ set, the Black Sabbath reunion and the last gasp of greatness from Eric Clapton, no one grabbed the moment like Queen did. Although the band was in the midst of being written off by American critics for various stupid reasons as covered in their biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, the foursome proved they were not ready to pass the mantle as the Greatest Band in the World on to anyone else yet. Their set was perfectly chosen and executed to showcase all of their strengths as individuals and as a unit. That Queen set was the moment of the whole concert on either continent.

After Live Aid, the benefit concert and single began to pick up steam as artists started cranking them out en mass much to the chagrin of fans everywhere. It got to the point where these benefit concerts and singles began to bring out the cynic in critics, comedians, essayists and alternative bands. The backlash was slow but steady in the decline as the oversaturation of these “events” started to overlap and cancel each other out.

Northern Lights

Today, we still have these singles being released, but the charity concerts are becoming more rare as the costs to put one on are now astronomical. Whereas the charity single remains a viable option. But, original ideas are lacking. Thus far, we have had three more Band Aid re-recordings of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band II (1989), Band Aid 20 (2004) and Band Aid (2014). Fortunately, “We Are the World” was not re-recorded until it’s 25th anniversary when aid was needed for the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. Unfortunately, that recording was met by a completely different work ethic from a new generation of singers, who, according to producer Quincy Jones, kept losing their voices during the marathon recording process. So, do NOT look for “We Are the World” to ever be recorded again.

All of this leads me to list my favorite charity singles of all-time. Have fun with this and never forget that there once was an altruistic view toward humanity one time in our society’s not-so-distant past.

20. David Bowie & Mick Jagger – “Dancing in the Streets” (1985). This crappy cover was debuted during Live Aid as a video shown between acts. The original idea was for the two musical icons to perform the duet via satellite with Bowie in London and Jagger in Philly. Unfortunately, satellite delays kept this from happening. Hence the video.

19. Voices of America – “Hands Across America” (1986). I think this might have been for the homeless. This is a crappy song by session people (or was it Up with People?) for a great charity. Unfortunately, to get every American to go out and hold hands as if we were the Whos in Whoville on Christmas morning was a nice idea without a real grasp of the logistics. I rank it higher than Bowie/Jagger only because those guys should have known better.

18.  Artists for Haiti – “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” (2010). I have heard that Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones had been bugged for years to do a re-recording of this song for charity. The three resisted because they did not want to taint their memories of that magical night in 1985. Then the earthquake happened in Haiti and turned that poor country into a worse mess than before. So, Richie and Jones tried to find the magic again. Unfortunately, the new generation of singers were not as thoroughly trained as the original crew and the whole thing turned into a mess, wasting a perfectly good moment.

17. Band Aid II – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1989). Too soon and too few talented people ready to tackle the song.

16. Peace Choir – “Give Peace a Chance” (1991). Ever still the anti-war activist, Yoko Ono broke out her husband’s big peace hit, got together some famous friends to record a new version of this rock standard as a protest against the first Iraq War. It was a nice idea, but did we really another lesser version of the classic?

15. The Killers ft. Tony Halliday – “Great Big Sled” (2006). The Killers get two thumbs up from me for recording several original Christmas songs to raise money for AIDS awareness and research. The songs are decent, with this one being the second best of the bunch.

14. Northern Lights – “Tears Are Not Enough” (1985). Just see my comments above.

13. Band Aid 30 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (2014). I think we can put this song on hiatus until the 50th anniversary. This one could NOT help me forget that the TV show Glee had made a mess of it leading up to this version. Sorry, but everyone seems to putting this song on their Christmas album these days. Just stop it!

12. West Coast Rap All-Stars – “We’re All in the Same Gang” (1990). Back in the early Nineties, gangs were raging drug warfare in inner cities, especially in California. The West Coast Rap All-Stars came together to broker a cease-fire deal between the fractions. Unfortunately, it took many more years to achieve.

11. The Stop the Violence Movement – “Self-Justice” (1989). The East Coast got a jump on the anti-violence movement with this great tune created by a Who’s Who of NYC rappers.

10. One Direction – “One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)” (2013). Comic Relief has been do their thing to combat homelessness in the UK and the USA since the mid-Eighties. At least in England they get a fun song as a fundraiser, and this mash-up of two punk hits by the world’s biggest boy band at the time is just pure genius.

9. Michelle Obama ft. Kelly Clarkson, Chloe x Halle, Missy Elliott, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland & Zendaya (2016). “This Is for My Girls” (2016). How could any woman turn down the former First Lady’s request for a Girl Power anthem?

8. Dionne & Friends – “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986). This Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager song was recorded by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John for AIDS awareness and research. Oh, Dionne’s the only one NOT in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

7. Elton John – “Candle in the Wind 1997” (1997). Elton rewrote some of the lyrics of his classic 1973 hit song and moved the world with the rendition he performed at Princess Diana’s funeral. Later, he recorded the version and released it to raise money for Princess Diana’s favorite charities. And, he vowed to never play the song again in that version. Now, that’s how you do it!

6. Band Aid 20 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (2004). It was cool in 2004 to redo this song in 2004. One, the original had been played to death so we needed a new version to breathe fresh air into it. Second, my boys were excited that they were finally getting their charity single. And last, it had a hot guitar solo from that dude from The Darkness who looked like Peter Frampton on a bad acid trip. This version has fun written all over it.

5. USA for Africa – “We Are the World” (1985). Yes, the song’s a little schlocky. But, there was nothing more fun than sitting in a bar when the video came on and naming all the singers with solos. Great memories surrounding that song.

4. Hear N’ Aid – “Stars” (1985). This is just a fun charity single. I like hearing these metal screamers singing this more of a Barry Manilow song and less than a power ballad. Plus, it has a heavy metal choir! What more could you ask for?

3. Artists United Against Apartheid – “Sun City” (1985). This song represents the best of a charity/protest song. Little Steven, fresh from the E Street Band, brought together everyone under the sun, from Miles Davis to Joey Ramone to Afrika Bambaataa to Lou Reed to Daryl Hall, and so much more, to record this song blasting South African white rule. This thing sizzles with 1985-era technology and production values.

2. George Michael and Elton John – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (1991). Yet another AIDS charity song, this is the ultimate version of the song. Originally, this duo covered the song at Live Aid, but only Michael sang. And I still get shivers when George says, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Elton John!” These two push each other and the song to greater heights. What a version of this classic song.

1. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984). Do you really think I was going to choose against the granddaddy of all charity songs? Hell, no! Especially when the song has George Michael, Paul Weller, Paul Young, Boy George, Simon LeBon, Sting and Bono all sharing the opening verse? This is my 21-year-old new wave self’s swansong. It’s just perfect since Phil Collins is handling the drums.

And, there you go! Peace and love to all.

150 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 7

Here we go folks! My Top 10 acts of the rock and roll era that have been the most unjustly overlooked of all the acts eligible for induction in 2022. Some may be a surprises, while others may not. Regardless, let’s get this thing rolling.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Harry Goodwin / Rex Features ( 512337s )
Joy Division – Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Peter Hook
Various
New Order: Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert.

10. Joy Division (“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” 1980)/New Order (“Bizarre Love Triangle,” 1986). I snuck this one in on you. Then again, maybe not. Whatever! I pulled the old Parliament/Funkadelic-slash-The Small Faces/The Faces move by inducting two bands who having overlapping band members. Joy Division, that Manchester, England band that brought the lexicon of “mope rock” to the rock and roll dictionary. But, after lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis killed himself, the remaining members of guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris were left without a front man. It was at this point that the band embraced the synth pop scene, added keyboardist Gillian Gilbert while Sumner took on vocals. The version named themselves New Order, taking them somber sound of Joy Division into the Eighties by giving their sound a more icy yet danceable feel. Both bands deserve induction and what better, and more efficient, way to honor the dual forms?

9. The Jam (“Going Underground,” 1980). My beloved Paul Weller’s first band was The Jam, a punk band who embraced the whole 60s mod scene that spawned such punk-forerunners as The Who and The Small Faces. The cool thing about Mods is that they NEVER forgot to embrace R&B music in their power poppish rock. Initially, The Jam were arguably the third most popular punk band in the UK behind Sex Pistols and The Clash. But since Weller had a mastery of melody, The Jam quickly outgrew the other two bands to become the biggest rock band in the UK. Unfortunately, just as The Jam were rising to mega-heights of the rock elite, Weller broke up the band to follow his muse in The Style Council. The Style Council lasted throughout the Eighties, finding success in Europe and the British empire. By the Nineties, Weller began a highly successful solo career that has lasted to this day. Honestly, I would be thrilled if all three versions of Paul’s career were recognized by the Hall and its voters, but I’d still settle for The Jam.

8. Dionne Warwick (“This Girl’s in Love with You,” 1968). As the cousin of Whitney Houston, you would think that Warwick would be yet another diva. But, alas, she is not. As a matter of fact, Miss Warwick was a master of the understated manner in which she sang. She could make you feel like you were listening to her perform on a summer evening on your front porch. That’s how intimate her singing vocals are. She was nominated for this past class (2021), but the nominees were so loaded, Dionne got lost in a numbers game. Here’s to hoping she receives her just reward.

7. John Coltrane (“A Love Supreme, Part 1: Acknowledgement,” 1965). So, the Hall has inducted Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong from the jazz area due to their influences on rock music. So, why hasn’t Coltrane, arguably the second most influential jazz artist behind Davis, been inducted yet? Let’s get this oversight corrected.

6. Dick Dale (“Misirlou,” 1962). Quite honestly, there are two major influences in how a guitar is played that still have not been inducted so far. Dick Dale happens to be the first. Dale is mainly known for his creation of what is known as the surf guitar sound. Without Dale, rock might not have ever had The Beach Boys, The Who and so many others.

5. Dolly Parton (“Jolene,” 1974). Arguably the icon of all musical icons, Dolly Parton is so revered as an artist, philanthropist and human being that she is able to transcend her status as a country legend to become a major influence on so many rock artists throughout history. Remember, Dolly is the songwriter of one of the rock era’s biggest selling hits, Whitney Houston’s immortal “I Will Always Love You.” The great thing is no matter how plastic Dolly’s persona seems to be, her personality is pure heart of gold country girl. Plus, Dolly kick started the whole COVID-19 vaccine research by donating a million dollars to the cause. Yet another notch in this universally beloved musical hero.

4. Link Wray (“Rumble,” 1958). Here is the other guitar hero to be left out of the Hall. Simply put, Wray developed the power chord that has become so ubiquitous in rock I really don’t think this brand of music could have survived this long with it. Think about it, everyone from The Kinks and The Who through AC/DC and The White Stripes have used it to varying success. It would be kind of cool to have Wray and Dale inducted simultaneously.

3. The Carter Family (“Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” 1935). While at the Hall back in June, I noticed all kinds of nods to the First Family of Country Music in displays and the Hall’s films about the history of rock music that you might believe this family band would be in the Hall, most likely as an early influence. Yet, the family that counted June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s soul mate, as a member of this talented coterie of gene-sharing musicians. Essentially, the Carter Family is often cited with popularizing hillbilly music into what we call country music. So, much like Coltrane, Dale, Parton and Wray, how can we have a shrine to music without these major influences?

2. Ozzy Osbourne (“Crazy Train,” 1981). Like I have stated several times, heavy metal continues to get a raw deal from the Hall. But, no one, and I mean NO ONE, personifies and saved metal than Ozzy Osbourne. He and his drunken/addicted antics of the early- to mid-Eighties are stuff of decadence legend. And it was a combination of those antics along with the terrific music he and the late-guitarist Randy Rhodes created, especially that Ozzy debut album, Blizzard of Ozz. That album continues to resonate with youngsters across the world.

1. Eminem (“Stan,” 2000). When Em burst on the scene in the late-Nineties, the world had a white rapper with a Marylin Manson-like psychosis that was totally fresh, very off-putting to parents, scary to the rest of the world and outright dangerous. Or, was it all an act? Regardless, there was music before Eminem and there was music after Eminem. All Em did was take Public Enemy’s and N.W.A’s penchant for controversy by telling the truth about what truly goes down in the white ‘burbs. And, that was shocking that the suburban underbelly was as scary as any Freddie Kreuger movie. And, please don’t compare Eminem to Elvis. The comparison ends with both being white men performing music first created by black men. Eminem was ACTUALLY dangerous to society.

And there you have it, my Top 150 rock artists who have been snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hopefully, we will begin to see these artists get their long overdue recognition. Peace and love.

150 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 6

Today is the second drop of Record Store Day, and I did not go. Sure, there were a couple of releases that interested me, such as Shaun Cassidy’s 1980 Todd Rundgren-produced foray into power pop and new wave Wasp, a Foo Fighters release under the name of the Dee Gees in which the band covers some disco songs and couple of French-released-on-color-vinyl of Hall & Oates’ Voices and Donna Summer’s Bad Girls.

I decided instead to stay home and play with my grandson who had spent the night with us. I like my decision. As I have stated previously, Record Store Day is just not the same as it was a decade ago when my boys and I would get up early in the hopes of copping a numbered copy colored vinyl reissue of a unreleased Tom Petty EP, or something similar. Now, it’s too commercialized with many of the previously unreleased items getting a full-blown release a couple of weeks later. Record Store Day releases meant these records were special. Now, they are just an early taste of what’s to come.

Shaun Cassidy – Wasp

As I said a while ago, the record companies are attempting to line their pockets and not gear these releases to all of us collectors. Sure, I did go last month because I wanted to get that first-time-on-vinyl copy of an extra disc that Prince included in his 1998 odds and sods boxset called Crystal Ball. That particular album, The Truth, was just released on the first RSD of the year with no intention of further release. Now, that’s the kind of release I am interested in.

Dee Gees, aka Foo Fighters

Likewise, I picked up two different live Police albums. Those two double albums had been released in the 90s as a two CD set. And since I prefer vinyl over CD, those two albums became my second and third reasons to get up a month ago and stand in the hot sun for an hour before being ushered into the small independently owned record store I prefer to frequent.

But, today, I just wasn’t feeling it. The releases just were not that exciting to make me want to stand in the rain awaiting my turn in the store. Instead, I spent a much more enjoyable Saturday morning hanging out with my old grandson.

The upside to that decision is that I am able to write this blog today after taking our grandson home to his parents and 6-week-old baby brother. So, let’s find out whom I have ranked in the bottom half of my Top 20 snubs.

20. Iron Maiden (“Fear of the Dark,” 1992). If Motörhead’s absence from the RRHOF makes no sense, then what about Iron Maiden? Maiden, Motörhead, Sabbath, Metallica and Judas Priest make up the metal Mt. Rushmore, so Maiden SHOULD be inducted.

19. Judas Priest (“You Got Another Thing Coming,” 1982). And if you put Motörhead and Iron Maiden in the Hall, then Priest HAS got to be inducted with them, or even before. If these guys were inducted then we’d finally live in a world in which Eddie Trunk is not bitching about a lack of metal in the Hall. And, wouldn’t it be worth it?

18. Pixies (“Debaser,” 1989). As one of my favorite late-80s bands, Pixies might seem like a longshot choice. However, once again, this is a Velvet Underground thing. This band’s sound was like ground zero for many of the alternative bands of the 90s, most importantly Nirvana. The whole “loud-quiet-loud” (and its converse) of verse-chorus-verse was a Pixies construct. Nirvana only perfected it.

17. Hüsker Dü (“Makes No Sense at All,” 1985). Looming even larger than Pixies over 90s alternative music was this band. Their abrasive yet melodic pop punk sound directly paved the path for Green Day, The Offspring and so many others. As one of my favorites still not in the Hall, I have pledged to make these guys one of my “Big 3” to write about over the coming years in a very small effort to get them inducted.

16. MC5 (“Looking at You,” 1970). Very few were ready for this band when they burst onto the scene in 1969 Detroit. They arrived shortly after The Stooges, adding to that band’s aggressive stripped-down rock music a set of political firebrand lyrics. These guys not only foreshadowed the whole UK punk scene, but their political ferocity has only been matched by Rage Against the Machine. Sure, they didn’t sell squat, but look at who they begat.

15. The Smiths (“How Soon Is Now,” 1984). By 1984, the sound of college radio was the guitar-based jangle of R.E.M., along with their British counterparts The Smiths. While R.E.M.’s guitar sound was more American and owed much to the sound of The Byrds, The Smiths were less jangle and more swirling, as if the New York Dolls and The Kinks collided while on acid. Oh, what a beautiful sound it was that The Smiths continue to span less talented clones.

14. Johnny Burnette & the Rock & Roll Trio (“Train Kept a Rollin’,” 1956). This group was a huge influence on the whole rock movement of the 60s, and it was far more reaching of an influence for a rockabilly band. Just in case you don’t recognize the song title that I included, go look up and stream the versions of that song by The Yardbirds and, even more definitively, Aerosmith. These guys have been overlooked for far too long now.

13. Willie Nelson (“Always on My Mind,” 1982). Yes, I know that Willie is essentially a country act, but his whole country outlaw image he began in the 70s is just so rock & roll that he appeals to many of us rock aficionados. I bet he’s something on an influence of 75% of today’s rockers. He’s become something of a latter day Johnny Cash in musicians’ eyes.

12. Big Star (“Thirteen,” 1972). First, this low ranking may come as a huge surprise to my fellow Hall Watchers since I am constantly pimping these guys on Twitter. And, while the band is number one in my heart, my head is doing the rankings now. Big Star got some big reviews with their debut album #1 Record. But distribution problems killed that album, as well as their two subsequent releases. Then, in the mid-80s, college rock radio artists like R.E.M. and the Replacements began pimping Big Star in interviews. So, 80s alt rockers like myself got turned onto Big Star, turning the 70s power poppers into THE cult band of the 80s and 90s. For my money, they are every bit as important as The Velvet Underground. By the way, Big Star is the second of my “Big 3” for the RRHOF (the third artist will be introduced next time).

11. Wu-Tang Clan (“C.R.E.A.M.,” 1993). This was more of a corporation than a group or even a coterie. Nine emcees with one visionary man at the center holding the whole thing together. When you have that many egos coming together, then the leader better be strong, and Wu-Tang had it all. I have been shocked each year when the nominee list is released with no Wu on it. Now that LL Cool J is finally being inducted, maybe the Wus will finally get their due.

And, now we are left with the artists whom I feel are most deserving of a RRHOF induction. Until next time, peace and love everybody.

150 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 5

I gotta admit that I was a pretty lucky young man growing up where I did. Sure, I hated to be a principal and teacher’s son, because many of my classmates would comment that the only reason I was on an athletic team was because of my parents, or my academic standing was solely the result of my parents intervening on my behalf. Few really knew how much work I put into my athletic endeavors. Neither of my parents ran 500 miles total each summer all four years of high school. Likewise, neither of them did all the ballhandling and shooting drills in the driveway. Certainly, my dad, the former head high school basketball showed me the drills, but he didn’t force me to do them every day. All of that came from within.

But, the one thing that was unique about my high school was that we had a student-run radio station. My high school, Pendleton Heights High School, was the first in the state of Indiana to offer such a program to its students. When we were in middle school, that was the station to listen to on Friday and Saturday nights after the broadcast of a sporting event. Those late-night high school kids who were projecting their voices over the air seemed like the coolest kids ever. The station was so popular with the middle school crowd that song dedications filled up the nights until the station signed off at midnight. That was our social media when we could no longer tie up our parents’ phoneline. Nothing was cooler that hearing a song dedicated to you by a girl from school.

When I reached high school, I initially did not have much time to do radio class until it was offered during summer school between my sophomore and junior years. That meant that I had to prove myself during an eight-week course in order to land a coveted broadcasting spot. Sure enough, after doing some sub-work on the weekends, while taking off basketball season, I landed the second most popular shift: Saturday from 8 PM to midnight. With Friday nights being held down by the wacky team of Bradley Wayne (Campbell) and Russ Richie, my partner, Tony Waters, and I had to quickly develop on-air chemistry with the hopes of eventually rivaling Brad and Rusty. The program director, the now semi-famous Andy “Drew” Carey (he got that nickname from us back in the 70s before that other “comedian” ever got famous), who went on to become the producer of the famous radio morning team show on WFBQ (Q95) [and nationally syndicated] “The Bob and Tom Show,” anointed us as “Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather” from that Edgar Allen Poe story that the Alan Parsons Project set to music. Carey had some of the big station on-air personalities create promos for our show, which was highly unusual. In retrospect, we should have been nervous wrecks about the promotion effort being placed in the weeks leading up to our debut. But teenage boys are cocky and arrogant, so we were ready. That nine-week period of time was some of the most fun I ever had. We created all kinds of stupid bits that seemed funny to us, although they seem very juvenile now.

My favorite bit began small, but grew more outrageous as the weeks passed. Basically, back in the 70s, Pendleton only had three stoplights, but the cool part of the town is that we have a creek that runs just north of downtown and it has a small waterfall that is the centerpiece of our main attraction, Falls Park. The park has always been beautifully kept by the community and a source of pride. across the street that runs through the park, parallel to the creek with the falls is a pond with a lighthouse built in the middle of it. Of course, we have a cool playground area there as well. Those two water sources attracted ducks and geese, which only adds to the joy of the young children who come to the park.

In the 70s, the park had become somewhat notorious for our less imaginative couples as a parking area. All of which lead the adults to complain that teenagers were having too much fun after hours in the small park. Without question, that required the Pendleton Police force to constantly cruise through the park to “bust” the lusty teens and move them out of the park.

Sure enough, Tony and I discovered the sound effects records and came up with an idea to have helicopter traffic reports through town. The station’s call letters are WEEM, so our public service helicopter was named “The WEEM Whirlibird.” Now, going against station policy, we did not say the letters individually but read it as “weem.” And, we gave fake traffic reports over the three stoplights, reported on the happenings at our two fast food joints, Dairy Queen and Jimmie’s Dairy Bar. Of course, we also did a report on the happenings of those parking near the falls and the pond. We were always shining a spotlight on a convertible with its top down, complete with sound effects of the couple screaming and/or yelling at us. And, yes, it once devolved from there, which got us in trouble with the station manager, an uptight teacher Mr. Cherry (I kid you not!).

Like I said, we had a great time with the bits, and Tony gave me mostly free-reign with the tunes. There was another point of contention with Mr. Cherry, who had the listening habits of an old lady. The other thing we did that bugged Mr. Cherry was recording the callers who wanted to dedicate songs to their beloved. Without question, we pushed the envelope by embellishing these calls with new questions to enhance the sexual innuendo. That was the last straw for Mr. Cherry, who drove into school and shut us down early that night.

All of which leads me to say that I would love to run an on-line radio stream of some sort. I truly enjoyed doing radio work on the side during my undergrad work in college. I even volunteered for a year at Ball State’s NPR station during the days while working second shift in a lab. And, I was nearly hired as a weekend morning DJ at a Muncie radio station at the same time I was offered my dream lab position. Unfortunately, that was the last time I manned the board at a radio station. Oh, what could have been…

See? I was lucky to have grown up where I did, to have that opportunity to work at a student-run radio station. On second thought, maybe the term should be student-manned, because all of our great ideas for running the station were always vetoed by Mr. Cherry. Mr. Cherry led the station through great growth over the 30+ years he was in charge. Still, the station had fallen behind technologically speaking. When Mr. Cherry stepped down, many of us from the old days joined the station community committee to help the new station manager bring the program into the 21st century. Now, WEEM 91.7 FM is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week station that actually built a nice little following and produced several excellent media people throughout the country. And although I am no longer on that committee, I am proud of the work the subsequent station managers have done. Of course, their success has been because they have all allowed the kids to grow as broadcasters and announcers and given them access to state-of-the-art technology in which to due their work. These kids are much more professional than most of us ever were back in the day. And, that’s because they are simply better than we were.

Yes, I do wonder what if I had gone into radio instead of science? Then again, who cares?

Let’s check out my next ten artists who have been snubbed thus far by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

30. Mary Wells (“My Guy,” 1964). I cannot believe that the first two artists who consistently had hits for a young Motown label still are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mary Wells may be facing more punishment from label impresario Berry Gordy Jr. by being left out of the Hall. Get over it and put her in! And that goes for The Marvelettes too.

29. The Shangri-La’s (“Remember (Walking in the Sand),” 1965). I remember there was a something of a short-lived revival of this NYC-based girl group within the overlapping glam and punk scenes. Hell, even Kiss and Aerosmith covered the girls on their respective Love Gun and Night in the Ruts albums. Unfortunately, Twisted Sister may have dented the ladies’ reputations when the Sister covered the La’s “Leader of the Pack.” Still, Blondie owes this group a huge thank you for Debbie’s persona.

28. Boston (“More Than a Feeling,” 1976). Boston should be in the Hall if only for their self-titled debut. Yes, they take FOR-EVER to create a follow-up album to their latest. But, when they do, they deliver. For better or worse, if it wasn’t for Boston, would we really have gotten to hear Hall members like Journey or Bon Jovi or the likes of Styx, REO or Foreigner? Whether you like that or not, Boston deserves a place.

27. War (“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” 1975). This multi-racial band from LA was one of the tighter funk-based bands around. And much like Santana before them, they were able to integrate Latin sounds into their funk-rock mix that remained true to their East LA background. This band is long overdue its induction.

26. The Runaways (“Cherry Bomb,” 1976). I don’t care that these ladies were put together by that creepy Kim Fowley, The Runaways flat out rocked. And who cares whether they are labeled as glam, punk or metal, because truthfully they were all three and much more. Seriously, if it wasn’t for The Runaways, would we have ever heard my beloved Go-Go’s? It would have been much harder for all all-female bands if not for The Runaways.

25. The Monkees (“I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” 1967). Let’s face it critics! The Monkees TV show hooked a bunch of us Gen Xers and Millennials on rock music. Who cares if they really were the “Pre-fab Four.” They had terrific songs!

24. Pat Benatar (“Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” 1980). With all due respect to the Wilson sisters of Heart, Pat Benatar was the hard rock goddess of my youth. She had Mariah Carey range but with a punk/metal toughness that was difficult to duplicate. Hell, it still hasn’t been done to this day. It just doesn’t seem right that she is not in.

23. Chic (“Good Times,” 1979). Giving Nile Rodgers that faux-induction for Musical Excellence was a complete sham! Give me a break! How can Nile be inducted without his visionary partner bassist Bernard Edwards. Plus, where would those two be without drummer Tony Thompson and vocalists Norma Jean Wright, Luci Martin and Alfa Anderson? Go back and listen to Chic’s 70s albums along with Sister Sledge’s album from 1979 and try to tell me Chic was strictly a disco band. This was a great band who had a couple of great disco hits. This is a total rip-off!!!

22. Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out,” 1980). Speaking of Chic, they produced and performed on Ms. Ross’ best album, 1980’s Diana. Much like Tina Turner was locked in the Hall with Ike, Diana Ross is in the Hall with the Supremes. But, Diana Ross is one of rock’s first wave of divas, so her solo induction is long overdue.

21. Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” 1961). While we are arguing for Diana Ross, why not take a look at country diva Patsy Cline. Her influence and strong female attitude is written all over every subsequent female artist since her. How has Cline been overlooked for so long?

So, we are down to my Top 20 artists who have been snubbed by the Hall for far too long. I hope this series is making you think a bit about the Hall and it’s induction classes. Until next time, peace and love.

150 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 4

I’m not sure what it is about them, but I love ensemble cast films. Off the top of my head, and I am by no means a film critic, the films I love tend to be based on ensembles. Films that are at the top of my list include Almost Famous, Animal House, Caddyshack, Hoosiers, Miracle, Major League, Breaking Away, Love Actually, to list a few. All of them are essential ensemble pieces that would immensely change with any main characters dropped.

This week, my wife and I, taking a break from TV shows, have been watching some of these films for perhaps the hundredth time. This time, however, I rediscovered a film that gets brutalized on Rotten Tomatoes, and perhaps rightfully so. Yet, I still love it. The film is known here in the States as Pirate Radio (or The Boat That Rocked in the UK). Back in the Sixties, the British government was openly against rock music and forbade its play on the BBC. In response, some enterprising rock music-loving broadcasters waltzed through various holes in British law by broadcasting American radio-stylized AM radio shows from ships anchored off the shore of England and broadcasting their illegal sounds onto shore. History has shown that these “pirate” stations were quite popular at the time.

Of course, I love the underdogs attempting to stick it to the man theme. I mean, who doesn’t? Sure, the characters are a little thin and plastic, but a stronger script might have made this film rise above the fray a bit more. After this film was created by the minds who created one of the better modern Christmas movies, Love Actually. Plus, this movie is about some absolutely terrific music. I love the fact that the film uses some forgotten mid-Sixties tunes to enhance the scenes. To me, it’s obvious that the creators love rock music, since where else would you hear a soundtrack with Leonard Cohen, Herb Alpert and The Turtles butting up against The Kinks and The Who, with nary a note by The Beatles and the Stones?

The Count

My favorite moment happens to be the climax, in which popular DJ, The Count, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, prophetically announces into his microphone as their station’s ship is sinking the following words:

"To all our listeners, this is what I have to say. God bless you all.

  
And as for you bastards in charge, don't dream it's over. Years will come, years will go, and politicians will do fuck all to make the world a better place.

But all over the world, young men and young women will always dream dreams and put those dreams into song.

Nothing important dies tonight. Just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there'll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written. They will still be sung
and they will be the wonder of the world."

In a nutshell, that’s why I love rock music. The old stuff will never die, and rock will continue to evolve. There will be peaks and valleys in its quality, but there will always be a young man or lady that picks up a guitar or a turntable in order to get their emotional teenage frustrations out of their mind, body and soul that will move their peers. From those brave artists will come the next generation of would-be rock stars. And, these days onward, these young people will come from all backgrounds and countries. Rock music was the war. Now, it’s in its evolution phase, which makes it exciting and relevant to a new generation. That’s why The Count’s words resonate with me.

The Cast of ‘Pirate Radio’

Of course, The Who more succinctly about fifty-plus years ago when sang “Long Live Rock.” Which brings all the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rock is the people’s music, plain and simple. But the Hall is for the true immortals, those people whose music continues to inspire others to create. And, of course, I think the Hall got a little full of itself and started to become too exclusive, which goes against the rock ethos. If the Class of 2021 is any indication, the Hall may be slowly turning back toward its original agenda. And, while it takes such a large ship much time to due such a large 180-degree turn, I will continue to list artists who deserve induction, if only to keep these names alive with my small readership. And, maybe they will in turn keep many of these artists’ names alive with their readership, and so on, and so on. At least, until these people become immortalized as well.

So, let’s look more closely at my next 10 acts.

40. The Spinners (“I’ll Be Around,” 1973). Fellow Hall Watcher Tom Lane has been pimping this Philly soul sensation for as long as I have been following him on Twitter. And, his words influenced me to go back to my youth and re-listen to these soul greats. Honestly, I believe these guys will be off the board soon.

39. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (“Tell Me Something Good, 1974). Every year for the past decade it seems that some version of this ensemble is nominated. I don’t care how it’s done, whether under the banner of Rufus, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan or simply Chaka Khan, but the singing diva who bridged Aretha and Whitney deserves her place in the Hall. Chaka Khan has become the Dave Concepcion of the Rock Hall. Or, is Concepcion the Khan of the baseball Hall? Either way, both absences are a travesty.

38. Motörhead (“Ace of Spades,” 1980). Okay, maybe they weren’t pure metal, but they sure influenced metal as much as they influenced hard rock. How are they NOT in the Hall?

37. Duran Duran (“The Reflex,” 1984). My older son loves to call D-squared “The Beatles of the 80s.” I’m not sure if he’s joking or not, but Duran Duran were the closest to that title. The women loved their looks, and rocker guys never minded their rock credentials.

36. Kate Bush (“Running Up That Hill,” 1985). Bush never quite cracked the American charts outside of “Running Up That Hill.” But, that does not mean she wasn’t an important alternative artist in the 80s. Hell, she was all over college radio then. Now, artists are universally singing her praises, so her induction will not be much longer.

35. King Crimson (“21st Century Schizoid Man,” 1969). It’s hard to believe that King Crimson’s debut album was released over 50 years ago. If you have not heard it, go listen to it. It is dark, eerie, yet so very beautiful. This is the one prog rock band whose sound does not sound date. Prog Rock has gotten a raw deal by the Hall (much like metal), but Crimson is the next obvious band from the genre that needs to be immortalized.

34. The New York Dolls (“Personality Crisis,” 1973). Back in the day, very few of my peers had even heard of this band let alone heard any of their music. Today, they are widely hailed, along with The Stooges and MC5, as the godfathers of punk rock. This would be one of those “The Velvet Underground/Sex Pistols/The Stooges” picks for influence as opposed to sales.

33. Rage Against the Machine (“Killing in the Name,” 1991). So many exciting artists broke out in 1991, and for my money, RATM was one of the best. There take on the mix of metal and hip hop was light years ahead of the curve. The time is ripe for the band to reunite, get their message back out and remind the voters that they are forever.

32. Cher (“Believe,” 1998). Cher checks all the boxes you’d want in a Hall inductee: outspoken; vocal prowess; hits across the decades; beauty; dominated TV; LGBTQ+ icon; hell, an icon in general. Cher’s induction performance would bring down the house. I mean, Neil Diamond and ABBA are in, and none of them are half the presence Cher is.

31. OutKast (“Hey Ya!” 2003). This Atlanta-based hip hop duo’s music will forever be linked to my memories of the 2004 track & field team I coached. This was workout music, but more importantly, OutKast brought the P-Funk back, whether the kids knew it or not. Plus, how can we deny the first hip hop artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year a place in the Hall? Simply, we can’t!

And that’s the end of the next 10 artists on my list of 150 that should have a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Only three more lists to go to see who I think are the most glaring snubs, so stay on the look out for those blog entries. And, as always, peace and love to you all!

150 Rock an Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day #3

If you have never been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, what are you waiting for? I know that I am a rock music junkie, but I still believe it is the best hall of fame there is. The architecture is unparalleled, thanks to a timeless pyramid design by world renown architect I. M. Pei. And, the exhibits, many of which are interactive, convey the excitement of live music and couple it with an academic explanation. For the record, I have been to the Baseball, Football, Indiana’s basketball halls of fame. While all of them are enjoyable, only the RRHOF seems to transcend the niche of popular music by pulling in the casual fan, the one who generally likes most songs on a particular radio station as that person lays outside in the sunlight.

You see, the RRHOF provides inspiration to the casual fan to delve further into an artist’s musical catalog while simultaneously nudging the hardcore fan deeper into subgenres such as alternative hip hop, 80s hardcore punk or a previously overlooked artist for further re-evaluation. The whole thing is arranged with a plan to get the visitor to continue their journey through the museum while planting a seed that will lead to possible return visits.

Yet, for all the positives of the museum, and there are many more specific ones, the main concern of the Hall is for the memorialization of the “immortals” of rock and roll music, regardless of the genre. Many people love to limit their music of choice to fit a narrow definition of rock & roll. And that’s cool, since radio tends to reinforce that notion with their niche music programming, which honestly only gets worse on satellite radio, believe it or not. And, streaming can be just as bad.

Still, rock & roll, or whatever term we tend to use as the all-inclusive term for the popular music that changed Western society forever and continues to evolve through today is the thing the Hall is wanting to celebrate. And, much like musical tastes, determining which artists to enshrine tends to be a point of contention with average listener and that opinion butts up against that of the music critic and artist. 

There are two extreme approaches as to whom is inducted into the Hall. First, you could follow Goldmine magazine’s procedure by allowing chart action alone to dictate future inductees. This approach is much more objective; if you have the hit songs and albums, then you will be inducted into their Hall of Fame. And if don’t, then you will remain on the outside, regardless of your influence on future generations of artists. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the current method of determining worthy inductees by using a committee made up of critics, musicians and industry players to determine the artists worthy of induction. And, this is the more subjective manner. Neither method is fool-proof and both will lead to heated conversations between those who care passionately about the integrity of the Hall (which I generally believe is maintained, albeit glacially slow).

Personally, I like the exclusivity of the Hall, but I do believe that more deserving artists are out there and will take an eternity or longer to get many of the eligible acts inducted, many of which will have long left this earth before receiving this honor. Now that former Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner has stepped down from his leadership role at the Hall and that former-MTV executive John Sykes has assumed the position, many Hall Watchers have been hoping that Sykes will loosen the Hall’s strict policy concerning inductions. During Wenner’s tenure, the Hall usually inducted between five and eight acts. In May, the Hall announced 13 news inductees. While that number is larger, it is a nominal increase. Hopefully, this is Sykes way of slowly changing the tradition. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the backlog of deserving artists continues its yearly seemingly exponential growth. So far, I have brought forth 100 deserving artists, with 50 more to follow. So, let’s get this countdown rolling with my next 25.

50. Devo (“Uncontrollable Urge,” 1978). This band is performance art taken to an extreme. On the surface, they are challenging the norms of rock music. But, upon a deeper look, Devo is a comment on Western society.

49. Cyndi Lauper (“Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” 1983). Back when she and Madonna first burst onto the scene, I really thought Cyndi’s vocal prowess would win over time. Obviously, I was wrong, but Lauper did update the definition of feminism, updating it for Generation X.

48. Afrika Bambaataa (“Planet Rock,” 1982). You mean Kraftwerk can be sampled for a rap song? That’s right Cubbie! Now, the world was hip hop’s oyster.

47. Tommy James & the Shondells (“Crystal Blue Persuasion,” 1969). Many wrote off this group in the late-Sixties as bubblegum music. Then again, ask Eighties artists such as Tiffany, Joan Jett and Billy Idol how New York tough Shondell’s music was during the coke-fueled decade.

46. A Tribe Called Quest (“Bonita Applebaum,” 1990). Just as hip hop was exploding in many different directions, A Tribe pops up combining jazz samples with heady dose of intellectualism in their rhymes. These guys appealed to both the ghetto B-boys and the college intellectuals simultaneously.

45. Weezer (“Say It Ain’t So,” 1994). I used to love to tell my boys 20-some year ago that Weezer was their Cheap Trick. And, to me, that’s a huge compliment. Of all the Nineties bands, Weezer is my favorite.

44. Soundgarden (“Black Hole Sun,” 1994). In the late-Eighties, I tried to turn my metalhead nephews onto something other than Iron Maiden, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, not that there was anything wrong with them. I simply wanted to broaden their horizons. So, I bought them some Soundgarden. At least the older one appreciated the effort.

43. Captain Beefhart (“Electricit,” 1967). How do you explain Beefhart to the uninitiated? A blues-based version of Frank Zappa is the best I can do, and still that’s not accurate enough. Let’s just say that he’s not for the weak-hearted.

42. Oasis (“Wonderwall,” 1995). Along with Blur, Oasis made the whole Britpop scene seem so exciting.

41. Mötley Crüe (“Girls, Girls, Girls,” 1987). I am finally beginning to come around to the Crüe’s version of glam metal. Of course, their ranking reflects that fact.

And, that’s a wrap. See you later! Peace and love.

150 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 2

For most Gen X rock fans, and even some older ones as well, July 13, 1985, remains a special date in rock music history as two concerts on two different continents attempted an altruistic event in an attempt to end the starvation of millions of Africans due to one of the more devastating draughts of the 20th century. Live Aid was not simply a major rock event, but a political and sociological statement that generally defines a generation.

Still, that day’s biggest worldwide event will always be overshadowed by the birth of my older son. Certainly, his arrival threw a wrench in my plans to watch the Live Aid coverage all day long. However, he did change my life for the better. And, now, all these years later, he is the more active of my two boys with his growing music collection. Both have their own collections, prefer vinyl over digital, lazily stream music most of the time. No matter how great of an artist lineup Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza puts together, they will never capture the imagination of the set of artists on the docket for that event.

Aerial view of Wembley Stadium in London during Live Aid.

   

While Live Aid was missing Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Wham!, John Mellencamp, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Mötley Crüe, among others, we still got one helluva lineup. Seriously, U2 gave us a glimpse into their upcoming world domination. Led Zeppelin got back together for their first public appearance since the death of drummer John Bonham with Phil Collins in his place. Hall & Oates proved they were much more than a studio-based hit-making machine with their hot set. Black Sabbath got together with Ozzy Osbourne. Duran Duran celebrated their number one hit song “A View to a Kill” with a great performance. Madonna was hot, Patti Labelle was transcendent and David Bowie was stirring. And Tom Petty, The Cars, Judas Priest, Pretenders, Dire Straits, Sting, Elvis Costello all performed. Tina Turner cemented her comeback, while The Style Council played most of their songs that are so important to my wife and me. Oh, I almost forgot! Queen stole the whole headlines with their majestically timeless set. Overall, it was a tremendous day.

Aerial view of JFK Stadium in Philadelphia during Live Aid.

The crazy thing about this concert was that it was all pre-empted by the release of two charity singles. The first was the now-Christmas classic “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by a coterie of mainly UK-centric artists (along with Americans Kool & the Gang) called Band Aid. That song remains one of England’s biggest selling singles of all-time. 

Inside Wembley Stadium during Live Aid.

Seemingly not to be outdone by their British counterparts, the American industry countered with a ditty written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson entitled “We Are the World.” While not quite the timeless classic of Band Aid, USA for Africa nearly had a “who’s who” of American artists that ranged from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Ray Charles and Cyndi Lauper. Unfortunately, Prince decided his mystique was more important than his cooperation, so he skipped the event. And, his image took a major hit as his decision rubbed the public the wrong way. Also on the negative side, with all the greats being invited, Dolly Parton’s absence remains a sore point with me, along with some metal vocalists, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, etc., who were all not invited. Oh, where were Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin? Finally, and perhaps my biggest pet peeve concerning “We Are the World,” why didn’t Smokey Robinson get a solo? He was there Quincy! I don’t get that decision.

Inside JFK Stadium in Philadelphia during Live Aid.

Still, it was those two singles that first brought awareness to that first indication of the effects of climate change. And, they also raised some money, which gave organizer Sir Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats the confidence to pull off this day-long concert on two continents connected through the innovative technology of satellite transmission.

While we celebrate one of Gen X’s more historically significant days, let’s take a moment to ponder 50 more rock artists who are missing from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Along with the first 50 artists, these artists are important enough to be inducted into the Hall. So, allow me the moment to list another batch of enduring artists, along with one of their more famous tunes.

100. Los Lobos (“La Bamba,” 1987)

99. Tool (“Schism,” 2001)

98. Commodores (“Easy,” 1977)

97. Blue Õyster Cult (“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” 1976)

96. The Pointer Sisters (“Fire,” 1978)

95. Rick James (“Super Freak,” 1981)

94. The Carpenters (“Superstar,” 1971)

93. The Bangles (“If She Knew What She Wanted,” 1986)

92. The J. Geils Band (“Flamethrower,” 1981)

91. Paul Revere & the Raiders (“Kicks,” 1966)

90. Alanis Morissette (“You Oughta Know,” 1995)

89. Salt-N-Pepa (“Let’s Talk About Sex,” 1990)

88. The Replacements (“Alex Chilton,” 1987)

87. Television (“See Now Evil,” 1977)

86. Supertramp (“Give a Little Bit,” 1977)

85. Joe Tex (“Hold What You Got,” 1965)

84. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell on You,” 1956)

83. Dead Kennedys (“California Über Alles,” 1980)

82. Sleater-Kinney (“Modern Girl,” 2005)

81. Nas (“One Love,” 1995)

80. Barry White (“Never Can Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” 1974)

79. Ben E. King (“Stand by Me,” 1962)

78. Junior Walker & the All-Stars (“Shotgun,” 1965)

77. Phish (“Bouncing Around the Room (live),” 1995)

76. Mariah Carey (“Fantasy,” 1995)

75. John Prine (“Summer’s End,” 2018)

74. Styx (“Mademoiselle,” 1976)

73. Kurtis Blow (“The Breaks,” 1980)

72. Daft Punk (“One More Time,” 2000)

71. Sade (“Smooth Operator,” 1984)

70. De La Soul (“Me, Myself and I,” 1989)

69. Jethro Tull (“Aqualung,” 1971)

68. Brian Eno (“Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” 1973)

67. Black Flag (“Wasted,” 1979)

66. Beck (“Loser,” 1994)

65. Thin Lizzy (“The Boys Are Back in Town,” 1976)

64. Sonic Youth (“Teen Age Riot,” 1988)

63. Little Feat (“Willin’,” 1971)

62. George Michael (“Father Figure,” 1987)

61. Buzzcocks (“Ever Fallen in Love,” 1978)

60. Eric B. & Rakim (“I Ain’t No Joke,” 1987)

59. The Smashing Pumpkins (“1979,” 1995)

58. Jane’s Addiction (“Jane Says,” 1987)

57. The B-52’s (“Rock Lobster,” 1979)

56. Raspberries (“Go All the Way,” 1972)

55. Dr. Dre (“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” 1992)

54. Gram Parsons (“Wild Horses” [by The Flying Burrito Brothers, 1969, or by The Rolling Stones, 1971])

53. Eurythmics (“Love Is a Stranger,” 1983)

52. The Marvelettes (“Please Mr. Postman,” 1962)

51. Kool & the Gang (“Celebration,” 1981)

And that’s a wrap on Day 2. Next time, we’ll crack open the Top 50 in this countdown. Until then, peace and love.

150 Rock a Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, Day 1

WOW! The Summer of 2021 is totally kicking my ass! Seriously folks! I only intended to take a week or two off from the blog to enjoy the birth of my third grandchild and take a small getaway with my wife to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Well, you know the old saying, the best laid plans? We’ve had something going on nearly every day, which caused my body to revolt against this whirlwind after manning the grill on a hot 4th of July evening. That day, I went to the bedroom to rest my back around 8 pm. The next thing I realize it’s 6 am. I did get up but again fell asleep in my chair for another two hours, followed by another four hour stretch of sleep. It honestly took until today for my body to get back to my new “normal” as an older man with chronic pain.

Although my brother and sister-in-law are in town to help clean out Mom’s house for our step-father, that job has been accomplished, we have an “off-day.” Everyone is doing their own thing right now, so here I am, FINALLY getting back to doing some writing.

Now boys and girls, did you catch the place my wife and I visited this summer? I could NOT wait for Todd Rundgren’s induction to make that four-and-a-half-hour journey to Cleveland. We had not been there since our older son was still in high school, so my wife was excited to make the trek.

“So, Mr. Self-Appointed Rock Critic, what did you think?”

In a word? Awesome! I mean, I cannot begin to describe just how cool the place is. And, although The Jam has not been inducted, they do have items in a couple of displays honoring the original London punk scene of the Seventies. And, the Hall’s special display covering the history of the Super Bowl half-time shows is outstanding! Of course, the Hall has some of the best multi-media interactive displays known to our species. Plus, they knew just how to pace an old beat-up geezer like me with some excellent films. The one about Dick Clark and his highly influential American Bandstand is just outstanding, while the other film, a compilation of some of the induction ceremonies’ finest musical moments is terrific as well. Unfortunately, since they were just beginning to lift the COVID restrictions, their larger theater was closed. That was a disappointment because I love to watch the big run-through of all the inductees on film. In my previous two visits to the Hall in the early 2000s, that film was indeed a highlight.

And, of course, that visit to the Hall did trigger my latest list about eligible performers who should be inducted. Since that mid-June visit, I have been honing my list of 150 artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now, allow me to explain a couple of things. First, I am NOT an expert; I’m only a fan. Second, my knowledge of rock’s foundational stars is very limited, so I limit myself to endorsing some of the most glaring artists in my mind who have unjustly been overlooked for far too long. Finally, these are MY opinions, which are, as the crude saying goes, “like anal openings – everybody’s got one.” My only qualification is that I have a pretty good-sized music collection and love to read biographical and historical books about rock music and the musicians. Oh, and I have this little blog and have been told I can write a little.

Now, about this list. I have a huge problem with making these kinds of lists. Succinctly, I am a horrible self-editor. That’s why there’s so many grammatical errors in these entries. So, I don’t have anyone yelling at me to “cut the crap,” or ask the burning question, “Do The Cowsills or Black Oak Arkansas really need to be on this list?” (Answer: my heart says “YES!” to both, but my brain simply said “No.”)

Yet, I do have a monstrous list of 150 artists who are all eligible for induction next year, 2022. Hopefully, the Rock Hall will follow this year’s template for the induction of a large number of artists while utilizing many different categories in order to induct more session musicians and industry players. Additionally, and this is not my idea, I would love to see rock journalists get inducted. Sure, the music invited me in to the rock world, but it was the descriptive verbiage of people like Lester Bangs, Dave Marsh, Lisa Robinson, Jaan Uhelszki, among many others, who romanticized the rock scene to me in the pages of Creem, Circus, Hit Parader, Rolling Stone, et. al., as an impressionable teen.

Today, I will present to you my list of artists, initially with their most famous song, ranked from 150 down to 101. Following that will be, of course, a blog covering 100 to 51, 50 to 26 and, finally, 25 to 1. Hopefully, those of you in the Northern Hemisphere have your air conditioner turned on, while you down under try to stay warm. If you are a fan of the Hall, I hope this series stirs up some discussion amongst you. And, if you are just a fan of music or just like to support me with your click onto this page, I hope I can broaden your knowledge base a bit. Let’s get this countdown rolling!

150. Procol Harum (“A Whiter Shade of Pale,” 1967)

149. Marilyn Manson (“The Beautiful People,” 1996)

148. Blur (“Song 2,” 1997)

147. The Jesus and Mary Chain (“Just like Honey,” 1985)

146. Blood, Sweat & Tears (“Spinning Wheel,” 1968)

145. Korn (“Freak on a Leash,” 1998)

144. Siouxsie and the Banshees (“Kiss Them for Me,” 1991)

143. The Stone Roses (“I Wanna Be Adored,” 1989)

142. Slade (“Cum on Feel the Noize,” 1973)

141. REO Speedwagon (“Ridin’ the Storm Out (live),” 1976)

140. Pantera (“Walk,” 1992)

139. Misfits (“Skulls,” 1982)

138. Nick Drake (“Pink Moon,” 1972)

137. Neil Sedaka (“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” 1962/1975)

136. Herbie Hancock (“Rockit,” 1983)

135. The Guess Who (“American Woman,” 1970)

134. Tracy Chapman (“Fast Car,” 1988)

133. Gordon Lightfoot (“Sundown,” 1974)

132. Emerson, Lake & Palmer (“Lucky Man, 1970)

131. Cliff Richard & the Shadows (“We Don’t Talk Anymore,” 1979)

130. Slayer (“Raining Blood,” 1986)

129. Mott the Hoople (“All the Young Dudes,” 1972)

128. The Stylistics (“You Make Me Feel Brand New,” 1974)

127. KC & the Sunshine Band (“Get Down Tonight,” 1974)

126. Warren Zevon (“Werewolves of London,” 1978)

125. Pet Shop Boys (“West End Girls,” 1986)

124. Megadeth (“Hangar 18,” 1990)

123. Joe Cocker (“Feelin’ Alright,” 1968)

122. Sublime (“Santeria,” 1996)

121. Stone Temple Pilots (“Interstate Love Song,” 1994)

120. Love (“7 & 7 Is,” 1966)

119. The Roots (“Dear God 2.0,” 2010)

118. Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain,” 1972)

117. Jeff Buckley (“Hallelujah,” 1994)

116. The Time (“Jungle Love,” 1984)

115. XTC (“Dear God,” 1986)

114. Paul Weller (“Peacock Suit,” 1996)

113. Foreigner (“Urgent,” 1981)

112. PJ Harvey (“Sheela-Na-Gig,” 1992)

111.Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (“Loverman,” 1994)

110. Björk (“Hyperballad,” 1995)

109. “Weird Al” Yankovic (“Eat It,” 1984)

108. Blink-182 (“All the Small Things,” 1999)

107. The Flying Burrito Brothers (“Hot Burrito #2,” 1969)

106. Dave Matthews Band (“Crash into Me,” 1996)

105. INXS (“Don’t Change,” 1982)

104. Mary J. Blige (“Family Affair,” 2001)

103. X (“Johny Hit and Run Pauline,” 1980)

102. Phil Collins (“In the Air Tonight,” 1981)

101. TLC (“Waterfalls,” 1995)

And that wraps up today’s entry. Stay tuned to see whose the next 50. Peace, love and happiness!