This year”s crop of nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is staggering eclectic and definitely stretches the traditional definition of rock and roll by a wide margin.
As we reported yesterday when the nominations were announced, such diverse acts as Motown girl group the Marvelettes are vying for a spot alongside Rush, Public Enemy and Donna Summer.
Below, I give a quick assessment to each act’s chances, and boldly (and somewhat impulsively) declare yes or no on which artists will be inducted in the class of 2013. Only five acts go in each year, so many artists who are deserving will have to come back again later.
Rush: Finally! The Canadian power trio has long been one of the Rock Hall”s most glaring omissions…along with virtually any other act that borders anywhere near prog rock. They”re tremendously successful, tremendously influential, and still going strong. Now that they have finally crossed the threshold to getting nominated, I predict that like Guns N” Roses, who got in the first time, so will Rush. There is so much pent-up demand for this one. YES
Deep Purple: Like Rush, Deep Purple has been long neglected when it comes to attention from the Rock Hall, who has tended not to give heavy metal its due. How else can you explain Judas Priest and Iron Maiden also being roundly ignored. They should be in for “Smoke On The Water” alone. Plus, given how many former members there are, it would be a blast to see who actually shows up at the induction. Sadly, it”s too late for co-founder Jon Lord, who died earlier this year. NO
Public Enemy: Closest thing to a sure bet this year. Chuck D and company represent political rap that has had broad social impact far beyond the music. YES
N.W.A.: One of the most seminal gangsta rap acts, N.W.A., like PE, produced music that spoke to the history of the times. They will definitely be rewarded down the line, but not this year. NO
Heart: As I”ve previously written about Ann and Nancy Wilson, regarding their long omission, If they had testicles, they would have been in the first year they were eligible. Having said that, Ann and Nancy Wilson have more balls than 99% of the rockers out there. Ann”s voice hasn”t diminished a bit–it can still peel the paint from the walls. YES
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: Jett is a true believer. Her influence on rock, in general, and on female rockers, specifically, is undeniable. In fact, her earlier band The Runaways deserve to be as well. Dave Grohl called playing with her one of the highlights of his life. ‘Nuff said. However, in a year where she is up against Heart, it feels more like their year. NO
Randy Newman: Newman”s singular, often witty, take on our modern times filtered through his uniquely American view is a one-man history lesson. Plus, few singer/songwriters have ever captured the complexity of the male-female dynamic as honestly as he. YES
Donna Summer: She”s been nominated five time before, but like fellow nominees, Chic, has a bit of an uphill climb since some voters still look at disco-era artists as anathema to rock and roll. However, given the outpouring of love she received following her death earlier this year may cause voters to reconsider and realize that is a total artist who has long deserved inclusion. It”s a shame that her induction didn”t happen before she died. YES
Kraftwerk: No reason to exit the Autobahn yet. The seminal experimental rock band is rightly considered a pioneer in electronic music, but the competition is too tough for them this year. NEIN
Procol Harum: My desire to see them play “Conquistador” aside, PH falls into a somewhat nebulous category of British rock groups that blended prog rock, baroque, and blues. Like Deep Purple, it would be very interesting to see who shows up at an induction. They deserve the nomination, but induction is probably quite some ways away. NO
Chic: If it were based solely on innovation, Chic should have been in the first year they were nominated in 2003 (they”ve been nominated six additional times). However, any votes that they would have gotten this year will likely go to Summer. The Rock Hall is going to have to eventually acknowledge what the rest of us already know: Chic was far more than “just” a disco act. NO
Albert King: Two-thirds of the holy trinity of great blues Kings are already in as both B.B. King and Freddie King. Albert is more than deserving, but it won”t happen this year. NO
Paul Butterfield Blues Band: This seminal band has a vaunted place in the history books for its blending of rock and blues, but it may be some time before there”s a year that they land among the top five– and it”s only going to get tougher as years go by and more acts become eligible. NO
The Marvelettes: The Rock Hall may not like disco, but the membership has bent over backwards to try to include black artists who influenced so many and yet have rarely gotten their proper due. The Marvelettes toiled in the shadow of the Supremes and may be a little bit of a tough sell. NO
The Meters: The Hall has tried to take care of New Orleans” rich musical heritage by already inducting such acts as Professor Longhair, Fats Domino and Dr. John, but there as so many more that deserve consideration. The Meters helped define contemporary funk music in a way that few people even realize. They, along with the Neville Brothers and Irma Thomas, should all eventually be inducted. NO
Among the acts once again not invited to the party, all of whom should be considered: Hall & Oates, Kiss, The Monkees (I’m very surprised that Davy Jones” death didn”t get them more consideration this year), Todd Rundgren, The Runaways, Moody Blues, Peter Gabriel (as a solo act), Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pat Benatar, Roxy Music and Iron Maiden.
The 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held April 18. In order to be eligible, an artist must have released his or her first single or album at least 25 years ago. The final ballot goes to more then 600 music industry executives and journalists. For the first time, fans may also vote. All fan votes will be combined and counted as one of the 600 total votes. Vote through various websites, including rockhall.com and rollingstone.com.
Who do you think should get inducted this time?