By Al Beeber on May 15, 2021.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame got it right. An organization which has become known for some questionable selections and omissions, the Rock Hall nailed it – sort of – with its 2021 inductees.
The nominees this year were an eclectic bunch including the likes of The New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Dionne Warwick, Jay-Z, Kate Bush, Mary J. Blige and Devo.
Of course, Iron Maiden didn’t make the cut which is a travesty given the impact this trail-blazing band had on metal. But the Rock Hall isn’t metal-friendly as it’s shown despite the clearly meaningless fan vote which has given huge support to this genre over the years.
Also failing to make the cut were the New York Dolls, a seminal glam band led by David Johansen that should have been in by now. The Dolls were a musical tour de force with an impact and a legacy that will live on for decades to come.
The crew that did earn induction into the hall is for the most part a worthy cast. This year’s induction ceremony will be held Oct. 30, much later than the usual spring affair. It will be broadcast on HBO.
So who are the 2021 inductees? Drum roll please. . .and can we have a quick guitar solo, too?
For starters, the Foo Fighters. Led by Dave Grohl, the band took Nirvana’s grunge leanings to a whole new level and is a band that today is still producing, performing and creating musical memories for fans. Grohl is a second-time inductee after joining the Hall with Nirvana in 2014.
Also entering for the second time is Tina Turner who was inducted in 1991 with late former husband Ike Turner.
Tina Turner is the focus of a compelling documentary on HBO that details her career from her early beginnings to her eventual success as a solo artist.
Also the subject of a new documentary is ground-breaking female punk/pop rockers The Go-Gos who were the first all-female band to play their own instruments and write their own songs. Their string of hits are a soundtrack of the 1980s and their induction is well-deserved. They’ve long been influences on young women with rock and roll dreams and their enshrinement is a well-deserved honour.
Entering the Hall for the second time is the legendary Carol King who first was inducted with former husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin in 1990.
Todd Rundgren is also being heralded for his contributions to music. This guy is one of the most versatile people in the business and has been involved in an array of musical styles over the decades. As a producer he was behind such works as “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad and the unforgettable “Bat Out of Hell,” Meatloaf’s 1977 classic. If you don’t immediately put a song to the name, just think “Hello It’s Me,” an ear worm that will stick with you for the weekend.
Also joining the Hall on his first year of eligibility is rapper Jay-Z, which may hit a nerve with rock fans. Is hip hop/rap really part of rock ‘n roll? Nobody can argue that it’s an important art form but this is a valid question, especiallywhen bands like Judas Priest have never made the cut. Pat Benatar, who was nominated in 2020, also deserves a spot.
The induction of rap artists is one that needs to be re-examined if this indeed the Rock Hall of Fame. The rap community deserves its own awards ceremony and hall so it can stand out from other genres and truly be celebrated as a unique and special musical and cultural entity.
The Hall deserves accolades for handing out one of its three Musical Excellence awards to the late great guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died way too young in a plane crash while touring with Ozzy Osbourne. Rhoads will go down in history as one of the true greats of metal guitar, a legend whose mastery of that instrument is second to none.
Billy Preston and LL Cool J also were given those awards while German synth rock pioneers Kraftwerk are among three artists named recipients of the Early Influence award, the others being Gil Scott Herron and Charley Patton.
Long live rock and roll!
(NOTE: This column won’t appear next Saturday since I’m on vacation for a week.)
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