The 2009 class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is Jeff Beck, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Metallica, Run-DMC and Bobby Womack. All join under the performer category Wanda Jackson goes in under as an early influence category inductee and Bill Black, DJ Fontana and Spooner Oldham all go in as sidemen. We think Jackson, a country music pioneer, should have gone in as a performer, but we’re just glad she’s in. Black and Fontana are best known as Presley’s sidemen and Oldham is a legendary sideman best known for his keyboard work on songs like “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Mustang Sally” and “I Never Loved A Man.”
Aced out this year were nominees Chic, the Stooges and War, who didn’t make the final cut.
We can see it now at the April 4 induction ceremony in Cleveland: Run-D.M.C. and Jeff Beck will duet on “Walk This Way” and Metallica will play with Little Anthony & the Imperials on “Tears on My Pillow.” Anything can happen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Usually, it ends with a heartfelt train wreck of a jam session with the inductees pretending to know each other’s material.
The best part of any induction ceremony is wondering if old wounds will be healed for at least a night between band members. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For example, according to an old New York Daily News story by David Browne, John Fogerty posed for pictures and exchanged pleasantries with his long-estranged Creedence Clearwater Revival bandmates, but forgot to tell them that he’d be playing CCR songs that night and they weren’t invited. Paul McCartney skipped the Beatles induction because he was in litigation with Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Diana Ross was AWOL when the Supremes were inducting, leaving Mary Wilson to enjoy the spotlight.
Two years ago, Van Halen caused a kerfuffle. David Lee Roth only got invited to perform with Velvet Revolver-he passed-and Eddie Van Halen skipped the ceremony for perhaps the most rock and roll reason of all-he was in rehab. The only two members to show up were Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar, both of whom were unceremoniously dumped from the band when it went on its reunion tour last year.
The only such question for this year’s inductees is if former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted will be part of the hard rock band’s induction. Technically, he won’t go into the Hall since he wasn’t a part of Metallica when it first became eligible-in 1984 (artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording). Newsted, who replaced bassist Cliff Burton, after Burton died in a tour bus accident, doesn’t appear on record with Metallica until 1987.
A nominating committee made up of industry notables, such as executives and journalists, select the nominees and then a voting panel of more than 600 industry observers select each year’s inductees (Full disclosure: I didn’t vote this year, but have voted several years in the past).
Most music industry-ites are divided on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There are those, usually the folks who are on the board and are voting members, who feel it is a legitimate way to honor rock’s greatest contributors.
Then there are others who feel it is the ultimate old-boys network and it’s who you know much more than your musical abilities in many cases that determine if you get in. The Hall seems to be heavily weighted toward R&B groups from the ’50s who had only a few hits. I don’t know if that’s a case of trying to acknowledge these acts for their musical contributions-many of their efforts served as the building blocks for rock n rollers like Elvis-or if is more a matter of making reparations for the truly despicable way many of these acts were treated by their labels. It’s all subjective but there is usually as strong a discussion as for why someone didn’t make it as to why they did. For example, it took years for the Sex Pistols, who were clearly one of the godfathers of the British punk movement, to get inducted. When they finally did, they got back for the snub by refusing to come to the ceremony. They posted a note on their website that called the Hall “urine in wine.” Yuck.