One of the most discussed topics in the rock music community is the organization known as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This week, there was an announcement about the latest inductees to this organization – Madonna, Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, The Ventures, and The Dave Clark Five. For the most part, I do think these five musical acts probably deserve to be in this institution, but my biggest beef is that there’s been too many acts from the 1950’s and 1960’s that have been completely ignored. I think it’s important that the pioneers of rock music be honored before the newcomers, if this institute is serious about acknowledging the roots of musical art form.
Here’s who I would add to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if I had any voice in the matter:
Richard Berry – Of course, he would be my number one choice. Not only did he author the world’s most recorded rock and roll song of all time, but he was also one of the most under-rated singer-songwriters in rock and roll history. His voice provided an essential element to the very first hit singles by Etta James and The Robins (pre-Coasters). He was truly a singer’s singer and provided a lot of uncredited support to a lot of recording in the Los Angeles rhythm and blues community. Of course, I’m biased. He was my friend, and when I finish this documentary, I hope the world will come to realize what an important person he was in the history of rock and roll.
Jesse Belvin – Jesse was Richard Berry’s mentor, and one of the most influential singer-songwriters in the Los Angeles rhythm and blues / Doo-Wop vocal group community. By the same token, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also needs to acknowledge The Flairs, Eugene Church, Arthur Lee Maye, Tony Allen, and a whole lot of other musicians that helped shape the fabric of this thing we call “rock and roll.”
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Why not bring in one of the most outrageous rock and roll performers to this organization? Alan Freed, one of the more influential people defining this musical hybrid of multiple genres, certainly understood what Screamin’ Jay was all about. What’s not to understand? He deserves to be acknowledged.
Paul Revere & the Raiders – This was considered the “first rock band” on Columbia Records, the largest record label in the 1960’s. It was a major breakthrough when the record label featuring A&R executive/ musician Mitch Miller decided to finally acknowledge this new-fangled music genre by signing Revere & company to the label in 1963. While history shows Columbia may have signed other rock bands before Raiders (not including that folkie, Bob Dylan), it was the Raiders that had the first major chart action. When the Raiders became TV stars with Dick Clark‘s Where the Action Is show, they also became music video pioneers, leading the way for the MTV generation. They had very catchy songs, did wild performances, and sold a ton of records. Why they’re not members of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is strictly a matter of petty politics at the organization. This should be a no-brainer.
The (Fabulous) Wailers – This was a highly influential band in the Pacific Northwest that inspired a lot of other musicians. Not only did fellow Northwest musicians like Jimi Hendrix, the Kingsmen and the Sonics acknowledge this group, but they also got a lot of attention overseas from such artists as the Beatles, the Who, and many others. They continue to be an active musical group well into the 21st Century, but receive very little within their own country, which completely baffles me.
The Kingsmen – Doesn’t America’s number one party band deserve some credit for creating the iconic recording of the world’s most performed rock and roll song? Yes, they borrowed the song from Richard Berry, using the template created by Rockin’ Robin and the Wailers, but they created their own imperfect masterpiece that inspired millions of musicians. While they should be constantly reminded to play their other big hit (“Jolly Green Giant”) at their concerts, there should be no question that they also deserve a prime seat at the big table of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Monkees – Maybe they were the “Pre-Fab Four,” created by entertainment industry executives to fulfill a niche, but they were still a highly influential rock band. Like Paul Revere & the Raiders, they had a wealth of very catchy songs, and with their successful TV show, became true pioneers in the invention of the Music Video format. After breaking away from the managers that molded their initial formation, they took control of their destinies, and continued to create many lasting contributions to the rock music universe. Of course, Michael Nesmith, one of the members, also needs to be acknowledged for being one of the people that actually created MTV.
There’s a lot of other great musicians that I also believe should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Wanda Jackson, The Sonics, Dale Hawkins, Arthur Alexander, Larry Williams, Esquerita, Cheap Trick, Dick Dale, Davie Allan & the Arrows, Cub Koda, Ian Lloyd & The Stories, Badfinger, Big Star, the Replacements, Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and even some of those artsy-progressive groups like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and a handful of others, but the ones I wrote about are the ones that I have a very strong opinion about. When I look at the list of some of the artists that are in the Hall, I can’t help but shake my head and say “What the *$#k?” but I’d rather not make any statements right now about specific artists on my blog, as I actually like some of their music, even though I don’t think they should really be in the Hall.
There’s a website called FutureRockHall.com that discusses past, present and future members of this organization, so I’d recommend folks check this out, as well as the official Rockhall.com website and the WikiPedia entry.
Certainly, if anyone want to discuss this topic by making comments at this blog posting, please be my guest….