OK, I lied; another RRHOF post. But since it looks like the nominations won’t be announced for a while, I’ve killed time (more than I thought I would; this was hard–at times on par with trying to describe colors) and make my own ballot.
This is by no means an inclusive list, merely the currently eligible names I would likely throw out if say, Joel Peresman called me in a panic saying the entire NomCom was trapped in an elevator and they needed my help. A few are on my current prediction list, so it could change again very soon.
1. The Cars – Their debut album is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece, they’re an influence on the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, and the Strokes among others, and with the already-inducted Blondie, they helped bring New Wave to mainstream America.
2. Todd Rundgren – His failures are more vital than many artists’ successes. There’s virtually no style he can’t play, his records are textbooks in performing and production, and while he didn’t totally succeed in putting it to work for himself, he sussed the future of music delivery in the digital age 20 years ago. It’s bizarre that he hasn’t been nominated at least once. Bonus points for the sarong and Easter Island mask onstage.
3. Cyndi Lauper – She’s always been so much more than that first monster hit: a powerful and expressive vocalist in any genre and an equally versatile songwriter with a Broadway hit to her credit.
4. The Replacements – Alt-rock’s beloved kamikazes. Somehow it makes perfect sense that in f’ing up completely they set the bar for everyone else.
5. Stevie Nicks – A genre unto herself and a legend in her own right, respected as a songwriter and performer.
6. Warren Zevon – His songwriting alone merits a nod, but he was also the most compelling interpreter of his own work.
7. Judas Priest – Musically and visually, they helped define metal, but have never been limited by it, bringing depth, complexity and experimentation to the game.
8. Pat Benatar – Arguably the most dominant female voice of the 80s, she elevates middling material and makes good material transcendent. Much more nuanced than a “tough rock chick;” P!nk and Avril walk in her footsteps.
9. Gil Scott-Heron – It was the summer of Chicago XVII. My boss put on “The Best of Gil Scott-Heron,” and the world got a little bigger for a naïve middle-class white girl working at the Music Den store at NorthPark Mall in Davenport, Iowa. Scott-Heron’s a visceral experience every time: a forefather of rap, he’s more relevant now than ever.
10. Billy Preston – The only musician to be credited on a Beatles recording other than the band members, and for a time a de facto Rolling Stone. His funk/soul/gospel keys are on records by half the recording industry from the 60s to the 00s, but he was also a great vocalist and songwriter who penned “You Are So Beautiful” with Dennis Wilson. If the Hall still has a sideman category he’d likely go in under that banner, but his solo hits rank as classics.
11. Janet Jackson – It’s all there: the hits, the awards, the longevity, the influence. To see last year’s induction list without her name was a shock, but I don’t think it’s going to happen again.
12. Link Wray – “Father of the power chord, creator of distortion.” He laid the foundation for rock guitar and helped make rock and roll scary for parents everywhere-with an instrumental.
13. Dick Dale – “Miserlou” isn’t just a song, it’s cultural shorthand for an entire era. King of the surf guitar, grandfather of heavy metal, and a player so badass they had to build gear that could stand up to him.
14. Big Star – Three albums on the Rolling Stones “Greatest 500 of All Time” list, a song on the RRHOF “Songs that Shaped Rock” list, the gratitude of the Mats, R.E.M., even KISS. What’s wrong with this picture?
15. I’m torn. I want to put Journey here. It just feels like Schon’s guitar and Perry’s voice should be enshrined somewhere. They just make me happy, and if that makes me a philistine, so be it. But analyzing it honestly, I struggle with the influence aspect, and it seems inconsistent since I don’t support Bon Jovi and Def Leppard.
So…this one’s a spin of the wheel choosing from acts with solid credentials, some of which I may not even like (Iron Maiden, Megadeth): Chaka Khan, MC5, Eurythmics, Motorhead, Tina Turner, Yes, Rick James, Joan Baez, Carole King, Turtles, Monkees, ELO, Motorhead, L.L. Cool J, Kate Bush, The Smiths, ELP, Sonic Youth, The Spinners, The Zombies, The Go- Gos, The Rascals, Waterboys, Ultravox, Depeche, Roxy Music, Procol Harum, The Tragically Hip…
Any of these could jump onto the list if one of the top 14 are nominated/inducted. Guess I’m what they call a “Big Hall” person.
But wait, there’s more!
The Hall is either not interested in or doesn’t know what to do with the Early Influences category, but that doesn’t make it less important.
1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Elvis was riveted by her playing. Little Richard credited her with his career. She was Johnny Cash’s favorite singer. But she deserves to be appreciated on her own as a glorious, stunning, absolutely in charge performer. The Hall should stop everything until this woman has been given her due.
2. Lonnie Donegan – Ronnie Wood, John Lennon, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler: all acknowledge their debt to skiffle and Lonnie Donegan, whose 50-year career made him a British cultural icon.
1. Carol Kaye – The greatest bass player people don’t know. She’s on more recordings than anyone else on this list- more than 10,000 of them. “The Beat Goes On,” “These Boots are Made for Walking:“ Those are her bass lines. Like her fellow Wrecking Crew member, Hal Blaine, she should be in the Hall.
A pet topic-to be continued.