Here it is. A challenge. Review the current Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and whittle out the superfluous rhetoric. Artists that lack relevancy, so to speak. I don’t begrudge those that came before us or their contribution, but as someone put it to me – imagine a future without music. What will the future generation glean from our choices of whom we heap the heaviest praise upon.
So, here I whittle. With some help, but mostly alone. Research is allowable, of course. As is consideration of the opinions of others. I am deleting and, yet, I’m bucking authority (and in this case, I do rather enjoy that…) by adding as well. Those that I feel have been overlooked for political posturing. For example, noting the incongruous nature of including a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but overlooking Pearl Jam and Nirvana entirely.
I had six days. Six days to consider, debate internally and ponder this list. On Day One, I began with Criteria. The checklist that would become my basis of inclusion or exclusion. And, as I do with most rules, I felt free to toss that checklist out the proverbial window to suit my own personal taste and take on the current climate of music. I promised, however, to not inundate you with sentimentality or nostalgia. A feat of heroic proportions on my part and a demand of someone who knows my tendency toward the cheesiest of whiz. This is a rule I will attempt to follow dutifully. Shock and awe ensue, I’m sure. Like a new-found patience, it is a valuable lesson learned.
So, what gets the boots and what gets the scoops? The current criteria for inclusion reads as follows:
“To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence. We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”
Hmm. Okay. Let’s amend this. 25 years? Ridiculous. I switched up my criteria – no time limit. However, relevancy is key. If there was significant enough accomplishment and influence – IN MORE THAN ONE ALBUM (no one trick ponies here please) – length of time since the first record seems irrelevant.
So, #1: Must have considerable success, accomplishment and/or influence over the course of at least two albums. Caveat: Relevance is key.
Next – I took out all strictly country artists. Or if I considered them “country”. Full stop. They have their own Hall of Fame. ‘Nuff said. It’s redundant to have them potentially in both. Exceptions were made on a case by case basis and for artists that transcend more than one genre with success.
So, #2: No Country.
Next – record sales had nothing to do with this list. I don’t care if an album went gold/platinum or any kind of mineral colour. Influence isn’t gauged on how many records a band can sell. Relevancy isn’t based on dollar signs. Perhaps in the world of corporate music, sales equal money equal influence. I’m not that world.
So, #3: I’m so done with numbers.
And those are my Three Rules. I’ll bend them, hell, I’ll probably break them. But for the most part, I’ll try to follow them.
Side note – my list has Canadian Content rules as well. Not a specific percentage, per se, but a bit of patriotism never hurt anyone. Plus, I like my Canadian artists.
I am never going to allow more than 99 inductees at any given time and even then, that seemed too many. Mostly I needed to give myself a cap, since I often require editing. Secondly, 99 is roughly 1/3 of the current inductee list (there are 296 currently). Thirdly, nine is a kick ass number. Fourthly (am I still going?), I am also stating that “Early Influence” includes anyone who has not released an album or song, or anything of musical relevance in the last 20 years (as always, there are exceptions to this for those artists who continue to influence music even when not producing music of their own). They are not, for the purposes of this challenge, part of this list.
PART II: Cut, Cut, Cut
Even with my “99” rule, I managed to cut loose more of the superfluous artists. So my cuts were made. However, I wanted feedback. So, to the trusted influences the list was revealed. And more cuts were made. Debates were had. Not second guessing, per se, however, taking in opinions I respect and considering thoughts that were valid in point. 54 inductees. That is my current number. No more, no less. A good coincidental number based on my 99 rule.
This process was actually more difficult than my original cuts. Those were easy in comparison. It was justifying choices and providing reasonable explanations for those that were left behind. It was being able to listen to other ideas and conceding when those ideas were better than my own. Collaboration makes for an improved result. Debates were waged, comparisons drawn, gauntlets thrown. Talks like who was the original “boy band” – The Beach Boys or the Beatles? (Wikipedia and Google were utilized as inherent research vessels) Was Queen “just another rock band?” (my answer: No.. they helped originate ‘glam rock’). You get the idea…
So, I cut, then I edited the cuts. Next, I added. I will admit that some of my additions did fall under the “sentimental” category. Review of them did not last long before the cheese was admitted and discarded out of hand. Other additions were considered. For example – Nirvana versus Pearl Jam. I couldn’t choose just one of these bands.
So, here it is. Weeks worth of thought and collaboration and this is my own personal Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. An exercise that has made me look at musical motivation and influence in my life. How I trend toward sentimentality and memory (which isn’t actually a bad thing), but am not afraid to ignore my nostalgic leanings to acknowledge great music that may not be my wheelhouse.
Before the list, here is the link for the current Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: http://rockhall.com/inductees/ Take a peek. Consider what you would add or leave out in the cold. Debate my choices, disagree with me and tell me what you would have done differently. The one thing I have discovered about this list is that it has created an endless conversation that is never dull and always thought provoking. I’m not even going to say the list is done. I am going to keep it and look at it once in a while. Pulling it out like one of those movies you can never get tired of watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The List. Lemme hear your thoughts:
- Alice Cooper
- The Beach Boys
- Beastie Boys
- The Beatles
- Black Sabbath
- David Bowie
- James Brown
- Johnny Cash
- Eric Clapton
- The Clash
- The Cure
- Leonard Cohen
- Neil Diamond
- Bob Dylan
- Aretha Franklin
- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
- Green Day
- Billie Holiday
- Michael Jackson
- Etta James
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Elton John
- Fleetwood Mac
- Janis Joplin
- Joy Division
- Bob Marley
- Joni Mitchell
- Van Morrison
- Pearl Jam
- The Pixies
- Pink Floyd
- Elvis Presley
- Public Enemy
- The Rolling Stones
- Sex Pistols
- Bruce Springsteen
- The Smiths
- Tina Turner
- Velvet Underground
- The Who
- Stevie Wonder
- Neil Young
- ZZ Top
p.s. There is one artist I added after a point was made last week. It is my version of a concession of cheese. A gift of sorts. I couldn’t help myself. It wasn’t that the point made wasn’t valid, or the artist unworthy a spot. But they would not have been my first choice.
Hit us up with your thoughts – don’t be afraid to overshare and disagree. Many thanks to the purveyor of inspired thought and the thrower of gauntlets. It came at the perfect time and has been greatly appreciated.