Many people are puzzled by the very idea of a rock and roll hall of fame. Isn’t the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll antithetical to the idea of a hall where a select few Exalted Ones are raised on high? Isn’t rock music about the live experience, where there’s 200 people crammed into a sweaty club that only holds 150, and the music is too loud, and it’s impossible to get to the bar, but the band on stage is pulling out all the stops and playing like their lives hang in the balance? What does this have to do with locking up a selection of Neil Diamond memorabilia behind glass and pinning up a bronze plaque with some random sales figures?
To be fair, if I ever make it to Cleveland I will slap down $22 and check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. There is bound to be some very cool stuff on display, and obviously they can’t screw up every selection. But let’s not forget that their entry criteria seem a little, shall we say, arbitrary. One of the guys that got kicked off the HOF’s nominating committee, Jeff Tamarkin, wrote into Bob Lefsetz’ excellent music blog today to talk about the selection process from behind the scenes. Tamarkin pointed out that the following acts have not been inducted into the HOF:
Black Flag, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Captain Beefheart, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Joe Cocker, Dick Dale, The Dead Kennedys, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Devo, Dire Straits, The Doobie Brothers, Electric Light Orchestra, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Peter Gabriel, Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, Ronnie Hawkins, The Jam, Jethro Tull, Joy Division, Judas Priest, King Crimson, Love, John Mayall, The MC5, The Meters, The Steve Miller Band, The Moody Blues, Mott the Hoople, The Neville Brothers, The New York Dolls, Randy Newman, Gram Parsons, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, Rush, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Steppenwolf, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Link Wray, Yes, Warren Zevon, The Zombies
Meanwhile, a quick perusal of the HOF’s website says that these acts have been inducted:
Neil Diamond, ABBA, Madonna, Herb Alpert, Floyd Cramer, Brenda Lee, the Bee Gees, Bobby Darin, and more Motown acts than all but the most dedicated aficionado could name.
Not to take anything away from the inductees listed above; I’m certain they all had an impact on popular music in one form or another. But it’s almost criminal that ABBA gets in before some of the acts on the Eligible But Not Yet Inducted list. Cheap Trick’s not in? They paved the way for every power-pop rock band that followed. The MC5’s not in? All they did was perfect the art of high-wire, reckless abandon, rock ‘n’ roll live shows. No Guess Who? No Zombies? No Rush? Seriously? No RUSH? That’s just insane. Sales aren’t the only metric of a great rock band, but Rush have released influential gold and/or platinum records in four different decades. They are the standard by which all other rock ‘n roll power trios are measured. They have been awarded the frickin’ Order of Canada!
Just don’t look for them in the museum by the lake in Cleveland.