The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is quite an interesting institution, and this isn’t my first time writing about it. The idea of selecting the most important acts to have contributed to a rather loose and boundless genre is fascinating to me. Who realistically has the objectivity to determine which artists are “better” or “more worthy” to be placed on a pedestal than others? Obviously, there’s been plenty of controversy over the years as a result, much of which I can agree with. It’s no secret how overwhelmingly “American” the lineup is, with a healthy (but obvious) dose of “British” thrown in there. Certain sub-genres have been notoriously overlooked, while others seemingly always have the edge, but things seem to be changing. On the whole, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has either gotten it right, or they’re in the process of making it right. The 2014 Nominees have just been announced today, and I have to say that I am incredibly impressed with some of the selections. I’ve broken each act down to discuss whether or not they’re truly worthy of induction or not, and their likelihood of actually making it in this year.
Before reading, why not take a look at The 50 Most Inexcusable Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Snubs and The Future Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers.
THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND
Paul Butterfield and his Blues Band are really an obvious choice from a musician’s perspective. They really took the blues to an entirely new level and have been lauded for their contribution and sheer talent. Not to mention, Butterfield’s harmonica skills are second-to-none. The group was around during a really important and prolific era of rock, and they played an important, but sadly under-recognized part in it. With stiff competition like this, I’m not sure if, yet again, this is going to be their year, but they’ll get their due sooner than later.
This is another one that’s really all about timing. Including this year, Chic has been on the ballot a total of 8 times and has yet to get in. Obviously, there have always been acts deemed more worthy of induction all of those times, but this year has something special… two words: “Get Lucky.” Yes, Nile Rogers (Chic’s mastermind, to say the least) saw a massive resurgence in the public eye this year, and that should be enough to get them in. They more than deserve it, so hopefully this is the year we can all “freak out!” and welcome them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It might come as a shock to some, but Deep Purple are more than just “Smoke On The Water.” Then again, that song alone is enough for induction considering how many guitarists started off learning that iconic riff. The group finally made the ballot for the first time last year, and got edged out. Hopefully this year they don’t remain on the waiting list. These guys deserved induction a long time ago, so the fact that it took this long for nomination alone is pretty embarrassing for the Hall. The time is now to give Deep Purple the credit they deserve.
This nomination has been a long time coming, honestly. If anything, I’m just more relieved that the time has finally come. Peter Gabriel is indeed already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis, but his solo career deserves to be highlighted like this. He really is a visionary of both sound and performance, so this is nomination is a no-brainer. This is only his first nod as a solo artist, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it in this go-around, but we just have to be happy that the wheels are finally in motion for it to happen.
HALL & OATES
All I can really say is, “Hallelujah!” It is about time Daryl Hall & John Oates found themselves on the ballot for The Hall! These guys are not only incredible musicians, but authentic soul artists with an unparalleled ability to write one hell of a catchy song. They’ve got more hits than they’ll ever know what to do with, but the quality of them is really what will ultimately justify their inclusion. The fact that this is only their first nomination is pretty terrible, but I’m hoping they’re pushed through on their first nod because they really deserve the honor.
I’d like to apologize in advance to the legions of KISS fans over the world, but I’m just not sure that stage spectacles and intense memorabilia collections are enough for Hall of Fame induction. The music itself was always just “okay,” and that should really be that comes first. I think that KISS’s contribution to live performance is up there, but unlike Alice Cooper and Madonna, they don’t have the solid studio recordings to back it up. This isn’t their first nomination, and I’m hoping they don’t get in while some of the more deserving acts sit on the sideline.
LL COOL J
LL Cool J has been nominated for induction before, but has seemingly always been edged out. My gut wants to say that this is finally his year. His contribution to early-hip hop is undeniable, and that’s where the focus should be right now. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy have all already been inducted, so LL logically makes sense as far as that progression goes. Whether or not we will finally see a year of two hip hop inductees or not is yet to be determined, but if we have to choose, I think he’s got to be the one.
To be honest, there is not nearly enough funk in the Hall of Fame yet. The Meters are the perfect choice to help round them out. The group is highly influential and hits like the “Cissy Strut” are funkified classics for the ages. This isn’t their first nomination, and I can understand how they were passed over in favor of some other acts, but the time is now for them to be inducted. I’m really pulling for them this year, because I’m not sure how much longer the Hall can get away with ignoring the important subculture of “Funk” beyond just the obvious players.
Ok, so here it is. We all knew this one was coming. 2014 is Nirvana’s first year of eligibility, and no one really ever had a doubt that they’d see the nomination. Pretty much ever since Kurt Cobain’s death, it’s been determined that the trio was nothing but legendary. Their career was short-lived, but it packed so much punch that it literally defined a generation, and now the time has come to honor their contribution to rock and roll. I would be floored if they didn’t get in right away, and honestly, they deserve to. It doesn’t get much more important than Nirvana.
It seems to be tradition now that two hip hop acts are being nominated every year, with one getting in. This time around, both N.W.A. and LL Cool J have previously been nominated, and both are extremely deserving of induction. N.W.A. are pioneers, though, bringing gangsta rap to the mainstream in a profound way. Not to mention, they spawned the careers of Dr. Dre , Ice Cube, and Easy-E. I think that it’s a tough call to make, but these guys absolutely deserve this honor. I’m not sure if this will be their year, though, but it’s only a matter of time.
This is another really comforting nomination that leads us to believe the Hall of Fame is a little more “with it” than we previously gave them credit for. Alternative rock as we know it doesn’t exist without The Replacements, so it’s about time they finally made it onto the ballot. I’m not sure if they’re actually going to see an induction this year or not, but at least they’ve got the ball rolling in their favor. The pioneering group has a long list of influences that will really be pulling for them, so if not now, it will definitely be soon.
Pretty much the only recognition Linda Ronstadt has yet to receive is her inevitable induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s someone who deserves to be inducted simply because she’s “just that good.” Yes, she has hits. Yes, she’s received awards and acclaim. Yes, she’s a well-known name. Realistically, Linda Ronstadt deserves to be in the Hall of Fame simply because she has done it all. She’s one of the most well-rounded artists in rock history, so this kind of recognition is definitely well-deserved. She’s been eligible for nomination for quite some time now, but the timing just feels right to set her up on that pedestal.
Another multiple-nominee, Cat Stevens (or Yusaf Islam, as he’s known today,) is back on the ballot after a few years of absence from it. With stiff competition like this, I’m not sure if he’s got much of an edge, but part of me wants to say that he’s “back on board” with the intent of actually inducting him. Does he deserve it, though? Absolutely. He’s an iconic singer-songwriter who’s been acclaimed for his work. There’s no real argument against him, but it just always seems that there are five other acts that just seem a little more “worthy” every time he shows up on the list of nominees. If not this year, it will be very soon for Mr. Stevens/Islam.
Well this is a nominee that really feels “left field” because of how late in the game it’s coming! Link Wray’s contribution isn’t the same as most of the other nominees. Yes, he’s had hits, but it’s almost entirely about the musicianship and influence, not the content. He introduced popular music to the power chord, which alone is worthy of inclusion if you ask me. It just seems a little random that 2014 is his first shot at induction, after being eligible for about 30 years. I’d almost hate to see some of the more relevant acts be overlooked in his favor, but can anyone deny his contributions? No way.
Genesis was first (but we can all “thank” the Phil Collins-led pop era for that,) and then came Rush (a miracle beyond words,) so now Yes is finally up for nomination and carrying the torch for progressive rock. I can’t really ever justify the beef had with the genre to begin with, but at least lay off Yes! They’ve had plenty of legitimate, classic hits over the years, and, honestly, they’re all incredible musicians. They’ve had a noticeable, and recognized, contribution to rock, so, despite years of eligibility, it’s about time this important band finally receives a nod. I hope they get in.
This is another nomination that’s been long overdue. Yes, The Zombies are usually classified as “Two Hit Wonders,” but their two mainstream US hits are absolutely legendary! If you want to get nit-picky about how many hits each inductee has, I’m glad to open up that can of worms. The Zombies were an incredibly important part of the British Invasion, and they are really the last major act of that era yet to be included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m not exactly sure if they’ll get in over some clear-cut favorites, but I am certainly rooting for them to finally be recognized for their contributions.