The RRHOF vote: five things that should happen (two of them might)

It’s almost time for the announcement of the slate of nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2017. A lot of discussion goes to specific acts that we want to or think we’ll see on that ballot, but this is a list of some things I’d like to see happen with the process itself.

1.More Secrecy:  Gotcha! Well, with ballots anyway. If the Hall wants induction to be perceived as an honor, it has to respect the process first. Official voters shouldn’t be allowed to discuss their votes, post ballots online, and generally treat the process with less respect than a middle school student council vote. We shouldn’t see cryptic tweets with the results 12 hours before the announcement from halfway around the world. Known preferences and leaks notwithstanding, a secret vote and use of an independent auditor are a given with other major awards; they should be here.

Conversely, the rules governing the procedure should be public. Artists and fans deserve to know the process and be able to believe that things aren’t happening by fiat or lobbying, as they may have with the inductions of Grandmaster Flash, Miles Davis and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

It’s not “rock and roll” to be slack with this stuff, just unprofessional. Secrecy for the procedure, transparency for the process.

2.More inductees: According to information now unavailable at rockhall.com, classes can have five to seven artists, and classes that size have been enshrined in the past. But recently the Hall has capped them at five, a number too small to address a growing backlog and ensure diversity. “Sure” nominees (as expected this year with Pearl Jam) mean even fewer slots, and that the winner of the fan vote has always been inducted further muddies the waters—the voters and the fans really agree completely every time? The concern with ceremony length shouldn’t take precedence over the mission.

3.More women: This shouldn’t be hard, since only two women (Janet Jackson and Chaka Khan) were nominated last year besides (I believe) Alfa Anderson and Luci Wright of Chic. The Hall often seems to operate in a vacuum, but there are plenty of deserving candidates and it needs to show that it’s listening on this.

4.More secure fan vote: We’ll likely never know who hacked last year’s fan vote.  But this year, look for a limit on daily votes by ISP if not also by device. The effect should be interesting. The Hall can talk to the IT guys at Ultimate Classic Rock if they need help-they’ve been running online polls like this with limits for years.

5.Less (as in no) conflict of interest: Last year the Hall recognized Bert Berns posthumously with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement. In itself, it was a fitting tribute, as was the biographical Broadway musical. Paul Shaffer and Steven Van Zandt’s involvement in that project was doubtless a labor of love; what’s not fitting is the fact that they are also members of the committee that apparently bestows that award unilaterally.  Another transparency issue that undermines the Hall’s credibility and the recognition for its honorees.

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7 thoughts on “The RRHOF vote: five things that should happen (two of them might)

  1. Thanks for the link to my blog entry about bigger class sizes! That entry was a pretty big labor of love in itself as well, and I remember you praised it in the comments section there. So, I’m flattered you remembered it and linked to it this time.

    Transparency is an issue I’m kind of on the fence about. I understand why it’s a good thing, but when you start revealing numbers, you’re just looking to stir the pot either way. And I say that as a huge fan of the Dave Clark Five. I didn’t about the alleged shenanigans surrounding the Paul Butterfield Blues Band though. Care to fill me in?

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  2. Hi Philip-

    My pleasure! It was a great piece.

    I confess I hadn’t worked out all the areas that should be more transparent in great detail, but I was thinking along the lines of the Country Music HOF-the bylaws of the election process are clearly spelled out on their site. There needs to be some way to show the public that uniform procedures are being followed, and I’m not sure what it is.

    I wasn’t aware of the possible situation with PBBB until I was researching this entry and came across this: http://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2015/04/17/a-look-at-the-cryptic-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-voting-process Sour grapes? Maybe, maybe not.

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  3. One correction: Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson were nominated last year, as well as the women of Chic. With the women of Chic, yes, Luci Martin and Alfa Anderson would be inducted, but Norma Jean Wright, who was on the beginning hits of Chic, would probably be inducted. Note the word “probably”: you never know. How can these “experts” Joel Peresman refers to induct Rod Evans of Deep Purple and not Nick Simper, who was on every album that Evans was on? One should just look at the members of a group or band who were on the important recordings, list them out, and then see how these “experts” muck things up. . . er. . . who the experts pick to induct. . . .

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  4. Thanks-I over-economized on wording and wrote “two women besides the two in Chic,” then realized that I didn’t know who those women are and most people likely don’t either. So in an effort to correct that I created a clunky sentence–sorry for that. I didn’t know there had been a lineup change between “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)” and “Le Freak,” and I immediately thought that here’s another chance for the Hall to mess it up. The Simper situation can never be completely atoned for, but the Hall needs to do the right thing and add him retroactively. No excuse.

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  5. The sixth thing that should happen is they should induct Yes into the Hall. A travesty that they haven’t. Truthfully, I don’t even listen to them much any more. But long overdue and well-deserved IMHO.

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  6. It has been a long road for Yes–surprisingly long. I saw firsthand last year just how devoted their fan base is and couldn’t help but feel the pain with them last year. Here’s hoping.

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    1. Yeah and what sucks is that their bassist Chris Squire died last year. I saw some bizarre write-up on the Hall of Fame site that said that the band didn’t fit into the “tradition of African” music or some other crap. WTF? I didn’t know that that was a pre-requisite.

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