This morning, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2023, and it was done rather quietly. The reason I say this is that the induction announcement is usually a big deal on SiriusXM, with a show that interviews the new inductees and generally celebrates the world of rock and roll. This year? Nothing…I was a bit surprised about that.
These are my general, hot of the press takes on the 2023 class. I’ll have some thoughts about some other issues (including John Sykes’ apparent preoccupation with “what the fans think”) at a later date.
1) Overall, a decent class that has taken care of a couple of oversights from the past. In the Performers category, the inductions of Bush and Rage Against the Machine were long overdue and the Voting Committee finally corrected this error (some would also add The Spinners into this category). If there was a guaranteed inductee for the 2023 class (like last year’s Dolly Parton induction), Willie Nelson was going to be going in.
For both Missy Elliott and George Michael to go in with the same class was a bit of a surprise. I figured that one would go in before the other would (and I thought that would be Elliott over Michael), but they both made it through the battle. Sheryl Crow has done it all in her stellar career and the Hall enjoys honoring those who have always been there for them, thus her induction isn’t a surprise.
2) Those who were spurned from the Performers category are…well, let’s just say that the carryover of the “populist” theme from last year is evident. Critical favorites like Joy Division/New Order, Warren Zevon, Soundgarden, The White Stripes, A Tribe Called Quest, and Cyndi Lauper (we’ll get to the other in a minute) were not inducted and they didn’t get a nod from the “non-voting” paths. This isn’t a case of “not enough support” – Zevon and Lauper (along with #3) were WAY up in the Fan Vote and it was believed this would be the year, especially in first-time nominee Zevon’s case. Alas, it was not to be.
3) Not that they were sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, but Iron Maiden is probably never being inducted into the Hall. I’ve heard the explanations regarding the bypassing of hard rock/metal bands, and Iron Maiden in particular, but they’re beginning to ring hollow. How you can have one act but not another – in this case Judas Priest (who FINALLY got in through the “non-voting” method last year) and Iron Maiden – is befuddling. If I am finding it hard to believe, then you can only imagine how the Average Joe is seeing it.
4) The Award for Musical Excellence is OUTSTANDING. They also took care of a few oversights here by inducting both Chaka Khan (but not Rufus, surprisingly) and Bernie Taupin (writing partner of Elton John), who needed to be in the Hall. The inclusion of Al Kooper was a bit of a surprise since there hadn’t been a huge drive for his induction, but it is a welcome addition; Kooper’s legacy of work and influence are worthy of induction.
5) Equally as excellent as the AME were the choices for the Early Influences and the Ahmet Ertegun Award. DJ Kool Herc was the originator of rap, way back in the early Seventies, but it is a bit odd to see him go in and not alongside his longtime performing partner Coke La Rock. Link Wray is another one of those “oversight” corrections that the Hall takes care of through this manner, but it is also a well-deserved induction (and, we must note, if you’re going to have Duane Eddy in the Hall, then why not Wray?).
While I would have liked to have seen the Ertegun go to Rick Rubin, the choice of the creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, is a BRILLIANT move. Many people point to American Bandstand and its influence on the culture. Soul Train was just as big, if not more influential, in its impact on R&B, soul, rap, and culture overall. It’s too bad that Cornelius is no longer with us – I am sure that he would have delivered a FIRE induction speech!
Overall, the Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn’t bad, but it’s not as great as it could have been. There are a few trends now, three years into the reign of Hall chairman John Sykes, that can be identified, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. For now, we can enjoy and congratulate those that were inducted and commiserate with those that were not.
It is getting closer to a day that all fans of rock and roll genuinely enjoy. Besides the Induction Ceremony and the unveiling of the nominees, the announcement of the vote for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and its latest Induction Class is one for celebration. Since the nominees were announced in February, there has been a great deal of speculation over who will get in as Performers and who might get in through the “non-voting” methods – and at the start of May, we will learn those names who will make up the Class of 2023.
There is a wide-ranging variety of choices this year for the Performers class. One thing that can be counted on from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voters is that they will choose between five and seven inductees that will enter as “performers” into the Hall. The other nominees can still get in through the “non-voting” means, which is the way that Judas Priest entered last year, and LL Cool J entered the previous year (both through the Award for Musical Excellence). The Voting Committee, however, are the ones who will choose the “Performer” inductees.
Those “non-voting” methods have come under fire of late. Because they go through a committee selection process, rather than the 1100-member Voting Committee, it is thought that these selections are “lesser” than the Performers. The Rock Hall disavows this statement, indicating that the AME, the Ahmet Ertegun Award (for non-musician contributions to rock and roll, like managers, producers, and industry personnel), and the Early Influences Award (for contributions to rock and roll BEFORE it was rock and roll) are equals of those who were voted in. The stigma still exists, however, no matter how undeserved it is.
Before we go on, we should look at the nominees for 2023. That list (in alphabetical order) looks like this:
A Tribe Called Quest Kate Bush Sheryl Crow Missy Elliott Iron Maiden Joy Division/New Order Cyndi Lauper George Michael Willie Nelson Rage Against the Machine Soundgarden The Spinners The White Stripes Warren Zevon
With this information, we are now going to look at those who are going to be voted into the Rock Hall as Performers. We will also take an educated guess as to those who might be chosen through the non-voting methods; in the past, usually only one inductee was chosen for one of the three processes. Since the ascension of John Sykes to the Chairman’s seat of the Rock Hall, however, he has utilized the non-voting methods to “clear the decks” of artists and groups that were not getting the support from the Voting Committee. I would like to see each of the three put ONE entry in, but we are going to play from the previous indicators that have been set for the past couple of years.
So, here you go…these are this writer’s choices for induction with the Class of 2023 of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!
Willie Nelson – Much like Dolly Parton last year, if there is one bona fide lock for this year’s induction class, it would be the “Red-Headed Stranger” himself. With over 70 years in the business, having written classic tracks that range from Patsy Cline (another act that should be inducted into the Rock Hall, but I digress) to Snoop Dogg (“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is a Willie classic), Nelson and his “outlaw” attitude are more than deserving of enshrinement in Cleveland. As of 2022, there are fifteen country artists and groups that have earned their induction into the Rock Hall – Nelson should make it sixteen.
Warren Zevon – When the nominees’ list was first announced, I was extremely thrilled to see Zevon on the list. I also thought that he would be inducted with ease, and the Fan Vote currently has him in the Top Five. Then why do I have a nagging feeling that Zevon will be bypassed by the Hall for induction? Zevon’s credentials should have gotten him inducted a long time ago, but the Rock Hall is not known for making the “right” decisions.
Sheryl Crow – A first-time nominee for the Rock Hall (despite being eligible since 2018), Crow is the epitome of the Nineties rock star. It was an era when women were REALLY beginning to flex their muscles (courtesy of such luminaries as Madonna and Crow’s fellow 2023 nominee Lauper), and Crow has gone on to work with the legends of the business. For the voters to pass her over would be surprising.
Joy Division/New Order – Another first-time nominee, the dual entry of these bands would be the first time that a combo entry has been inducted since The Faces/The Small Faces back in 2012. Joy Division was one of the early progenitors of what would eventually become the “New Wave” movement. After the suicide of singer Ian Curtis, the remaining members of the band felt they could no longer go on as “Joy Division” and instead rechristened themselves as “New Order.” Regardless of the name, the band continued to be a groundbreaking force in the Eighties rock scene and should be honored with induction.
Missy Elliott – Of the eight elected inductees from the rap and hip-hop world (nine if you count LL Cool J’s Artistic Excellence induction), none of them have been female. This should be corrected this year as Elliott earns a seat in the Rock Hall (I would have rather seen Queen Latifah get in, but…). Elliott has been a force in the rap community and, through her music and her philanthropy, has brought attention to women’s issues and the plight of the inner city. An excellent choice.
Iron Maiden – This one could go either way. Long dismissive of the Rock Hall, Iron Maiden deserves induction themselves, alongside their contemporary Judas Priest (the AME again). There is that old issue with hard rock/metal acts being inducted, however, which may keep one of the formative acts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) out of the Hall.
This is where we start to get into some speculation!
The three non-voting methods have, in the past, been sparingly used. Under Sykes, however, each of the three methods has inducted two or three members (2021 and 2022) each year. We can debate the logic of this (circumvention of the Voting Committee, or rectifying oversights by the Voting Committee), but that is for another time. For this year, let us figure that one each in the three categories will be a “Wild Card” entry – someone that isn’t even on the radar – and come up with two potential inductees for each category.
Award for Musical Excellence – This is where two of the 2023 nominees are going to go in through. Bush and Rage Against the Machine have been nominated on multiple occasions and, whether it is because of the competition in the years they have been nominated or (possibly) the Voting Committee does not feel they are “worthy,” both acts have yet to be inducted. This is the year that Bush SHOULD be voted in but, if she is not, then the Hall will put her in through this manner alongside Rage Against the Machine (which guitarist Tom Morello has fought against but will accept after several fruitless nominations).
Early Influences – This is a bit tougher to come up with because there are still so many from the “early days” of rock and roll that are deserving of being honored. Topping that list would be “Big Mama” Thornton, who was the prototype for the rock and roll “belter” from the vocal sphere. A second choice? How about MC5, who has gone through the nomination wringer way too many times (six, to be exact)? As the originators of the “garage rock” sound (they could also be viewed as punk rock forefathers), MC5’s exclusion from the Rock Hall should be rectified this year.
Ahmet Ertegun Award – If there were one of these categories that should only have one inductee, it would be this one. It is not because non-musical people aren’t important to rock and roll, it is because you must have done something OUTSTANDING to be considered for the honor. A look at those who have been previously honored (including Bruce Springsteen manager/producer Jon Landau, label exec Irving Azoff, and the legendary Quincy Jones) indicates the gravity of this category.
My first choice for this induction would be producer Rick Rubin. From the creation of his own label (Def Jam Records) to his production work with artists across the board (Run-DMC to Johnny Cash), Rubin has been one of the most impactful “behind-the-scenes” performers in the history of rock and roll. Not having him as a part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is an oversight in definite need of correction.
For my second choice, I am going to go with two because I cannot decide between them! First up is Malcolm McLaren, who was responsible for the “punk rock” attitude of the Seventies and whom without we would have never heard of The Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, Bow Wow Wow, or Adam and the Ants. Second on my list would be Bill Aucoin, the legendary manager of KISS. Without Aucoin, would KISS have been as monstrous as they were?
There you have it! Your Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is:
Willie Nelson Warren Zevon Sheryl Crow Joy Division/New Order Missy Elliott Iron Maiden Kate Bush Rage Against the Machine AME WILD CARD “Big Mama” Thornton MC5 EARLY INFLUENCE WILD CARD Rick Rubin Malcolm McLaren OR Bill Aucoin AHMET ERTEGUN WILD CARD
That’s a pretty solid fourteen-member class, wouldn’t you say?
Now we will have the other fun part about the inductions into the Rock Hall – the debate over who gets in or not! What are your thoughts for 2023?
***WRITER’S NOTE*** I originally did this series on my personal website. As it deals with music and its history, I felt that I should have it here too. You can catch up with the rest of the entries at the end of this essay!
There is a term in the music industry – a “one hit wonder” – for an artist or a band that has one massive hit that simply overpowers everything that the act does for the rest of their career. But there are also those that had that one massive hit and, despite their best efforts, are unable to equal the quality or success of that masterpiece. The self-titled album from the band Boston falls into this category.
Released in August of 1976, Boston was a monumental occurrence in the world of rock and roll. What makes it even more impressive is the backstory to the album. That backstory would not have been heard, however, if it weren’t for the fact that the record was an immense moment in the passage of rock and roll time, making it truly memorable and worthy of this list.
In the early 1970s, guitarist Tom Scholz and singer Brad Delp had put together several songs that made the rounds of the labels, but there were no takers for what they were offering. Their demo tape would eventually make its way to Epic Records, who took a flyer on the duo and signed them to a deal. Indicative of the upcoming history of the band, the issues started almost immediately.
Epic, having spent the money to sign the duo, naturally wanted to keep an eye on their purchase in having them record in Los Angeles. Scholz wasn’t having that, however, preferring to work in his sanctuary of a home recording studio back in Boston. Scholz was not just being a tempestuous artist – he actually had developed recording concepts, without the usage of synthesizers, keyboards storing sounds or other electronic trickery, which could only be recreated in his basement studio, thus requiring the creation of the album on the East Coast instead of the West. Using his co-producer, John Boylan, as an intermediary with Epic Records, Scholz set about recreating the demo tapes for the inaugural album.
Scholz played nearly all the instruments on that debut album, with Delp’s soaring vocals carrying the tunes to meteoric heights. There were other players who would contribute to the record and, in fact, be listed as members of the band “Boston” (including Barry Goudreau on guitar, bassist Fran Sheehan, and drummer Sib Hashian), but the original work was all Scholz.
The album was an instant success. Boston would go on to become, at the time, the biggest debut album in the history of the industry, eventually selling over 17 million copies. All eight of the tracks on the record were constantly played on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio, and three of the songs, “More Than a Feeling,” “Long Time” (often played with its intro, “Foreplay,” on AOR radio), and “Piece of Mind,” were Top 40 hits. The band Boston would become a touring force on the “arena rock” circuit, alongside such bands as Foreigner, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon.
So, what made the album so special? It is difficult to quantify this, but simply put each song on Boston was given meticulous attention by Scholz to make it as perfect as possible. Part of the charm of the album, especially in the era of disco and its overdubbed drums and bass beats, what the factor that there was no computerization or electronic effects on the record. It was purely Scholz and Delp, doing what they did best.
It certainly helped that each song would have been a singular masterpiece in its own right. “More Than a Feeling” kicked off the record, followed up by the acoustic/electric work on “Peace of Mind.” Then you had the epic “Foreplay/Long Time,” which would have been a wasteful excess in the hands of another artist but served as a triumphant and exciting close…to just the first side of the album.
The second side of Boston could have been forgiven if it were filler, but Scholz’s meticulous nature would not allow that to happen. In fact, the second side of this album puts to shame pretty much anyone else’s FIRST side of an album. You had the dual guitar rockers “Rock & Roll Band” and “Smokin’” to lead off Side Two, before segueing in to a slowdown to the ending climax in “Hitch a Ride” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” (“Something About You” would have been better placed ahead of “Hitch a Ride,” but this is a quibbling point).
To put it bluntly, it was eight songs of excellence from a perfectionist (maybe two, counting Delp). But it was also unsustainable.
When you have the type of success that Boston did, it was almost automatic that you would be back in the studios to do a follow up. Scholz, Delp and Company did just that, following up this masterpiece two years later with a decent but uninspired Don’t Look Back. It had its share of success, especially with the title track, but it did not have the same cachet that the Boston album garnered.
Then began Boston and Scholz’s Long Exodus. Frustrated with the pace that Epic wanted regarding the band’s album releases and touring schedule, Scholz would enter the courtroom to battle it out with Epic (the band and Scholz would eventually win the lawsuit). A long eight years would pass before the band Boston would release another album (the intriguing Third Stage) but, by that point, the music world has passed the band by.
It would be another eight years before the final Boston album was released, 1994’s Walk On, which was empty with the lack of Delp on the vocals, and Boston was essentially over. Sure, Scholz has continued to issue albums under the Boston moniker, but they lack the same vitality that was found in the early work of him and Delp. The last album by this version of Boston, Life, Love & Hope, was released in 2013.
Here is a subject that comes up frequently when Boston, the band, is discussed. If their debut was such an impressive album, why aren’t they feted with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? The reason is a simple one – the music that the band performed didn’t break any new ground, they were minimally influential, and they did nothing to change the direction of “rock and roll.” Boston was a good rock band, but they were far from an immortal (you could also discuss Scholz getting more attention for his production and guitar innovations, but that is a subject for another time).
There is no shame is having one of the great albums in the history of rock and roll, however, and that is what Boston, the album, was. The record was a monumental piece of 70s arena rock folklore that deserves to be respected. It is also critical that any record collection should have the album to capture that snapshot in time.
There’s approximately two weeks to go in the Fan Vote for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Currently leading the way is first time nominee Duran Duran, who is dominating the standings with almost 850,000 votes. In a distant second is Eminem, who has gotten an impressive 650,000-plus votes, while Pat Benatar hangs in third with slightly more than 559,000. Rounding out the Top Five are Eurythmics and Dolly Parton (who, despite her protestations, might have to live with the title “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member”).
The reason this Top Five is important is that those finishers will each earn one more vote onto their total from the overall Voting Membership towards induction into the Rock Hall. That single vote is unimportant – the 1200-member Voting Membership’s decisions will not come down to one vote, to be honest. It is important, however, in setting the tone for what “the fans” want as far as the Rock Hall goes.
But who is going to be elected to the Rock Hall? We are going to look at that here, but first we must set a couple of criteria.
There is absolutely no clue as to how many people will eventually earn induction into the Rock Hall. It should hold true that six new Performer inductees will be named – that is what has consistently happened since the Hall was created. What will be the “wild card” is will the non-voting committees – the Ahmet Ertegun Award, the Award for Musical Excellence, and the Early Influencers – receive the same credence that they got in 2021.
Last year, those non-voting inductions accounted for more than half of the new inductees into the Rock Hall. Previously, the non-voting inductions were rotated between years, so as to give respect to those inductions. But 2021 blew that out of the water…it was a way for John Sykes (the new Chairman of the Rock Hall) to “clean the slate” (so to speak) by getting in several contentious and problematic induction issues. A band like Kraftwerk or an artist like LL Cool J, who had multiple previous nominations without induction, were able to bypass the vagaries of the Voting Membership and were inducted.
But will that hold true for 2022? I could see it going either way. For our purposes here, though (and to be able to get in as many people as possible), we are going to assume that the Hall will have the “mega-class” once again for 2022. That means we will go with six Performers inductees, three Early Influencers, three AME inductions, and a solo Ertegun honoree.
So, who is going to go in as members of the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? I have always had two lists for these types of issues – a list of who SHOULD be inducted and a list of who WILL be inducted. These two lists are extremely different, so it might be said that the “should be” list is my personal preferences, while the “will be” list is the one the Rock Hall’s Voting Membership will go towards.
Thus, without further ado, here is the list of who SHOULD BE inducted as the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Judas Priest Pat Benatar Kate Bush Rage Against the Machine Eminem New York Dolls
MC5 “Big Mama” Thornton Dick Dale
Award for Musical Excellence
Warren Zevon Thin Lizzy Jimmy Buffett
Ahmet Ertegun Award
Rick Rubin, producer/label executive
The Rock Hall has been under consistent attack over the past few years for their “non-rock” inductees. Thus, I think this year they will try to lean towards the more “rock” oriented members of the nomination class. Even though Eminem will get in (he is on both the “should be” and the “will be” lists), the Voting Membership will push for more rock artists and bands like Judas Priest, Benatar, Rage, and the Dolls to get in (right now, Judas Priest is lurking behind Parton in the Fan Vote).
Taking MC5 in as an early influence for “garage rock” seems like a logical step because otherwise the band is not getting voted in. There just aren’t enough fans of that style of rock to get MC5 voted in as performers. Thornton has been overlooked for far too long for her influences on rock and roll. Finally, if you are going to have Duane Eddy in the Rock Hall, you also must have his cohort in the development of the “surf sound,” Dale, in there beside him.
Taking the trio of performers in with the Musical Excellence award – Buffett, Zevon, and Thin Lizzy – bypasses the issues that they have had in earning induction as performers. Both Buffett and Zevon have legacies and contributions far too numerous to mention here (it is arguable that, without Zevon, you do not have the “California sound” of Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, and others, while Buffett created a music genre of his own in tropical, or “trop,” rock). Thin Lizzy might be the weakest entry here, but if they are going to go in, it is going to be through a non-voting mechanism.
Rubin as an Ertegun inductee is something that would take the Rock Hall a bit of pushing to do. Rubin, as the creator and leader of Def Jam Records and the producer behind a slew of top rap acts, would not be the first choice of many in the music world. But the world of music would be lesser without his work and his influence on the industry, thus he is deserving of induction.
That gives us a list of thirteen artists, groups, and other miscellaneous entries for the SHOULD BE Class of 2022. But it is not likely to happen…not this year at least!
Now, the moment for which you’ve been waiting! Here are the people who WILL BE inducted in May as the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Eminem Dolly Parton Eurythmics Pat Benatar Judas Priest Beck
MC5 New York Dolls **WILD CARD**
A Tribe Called Quest Thin Lizzy **WILD CARD**
Sylvia Robertson, founder of Sugar Hill Records
Eminem is a lock for induction in 2022, whether people like it or not. He has been one of the iconic figures of rap in the past 25 years, has brought attention and acclaim to his work, and has been a groundbreaker in many ways. Beck is in a comparable situation – he has been a formative figure in alternative rock, someone followed by many in that genre, and he has been an innovator in his field.
Judas Priest SHOULD already be in, but this could just as easily go to Rage Against the Machine. I am giving Priest the edge for their longevity and their body of work. And the Rock Hall still has the ringing in their ears for not inducting Benatar back in 2020; they will fix that this time around.
Much has been made about Parton’s nomination and potential induction into the Rock Hall. Whether she (or those who want to deny her history) realizes it or not, Parton has been a figurative force in the world of music, breaking ground for women in a male-dominated field (the same could be said of Benatar). If she does not go in through this manner, she could very well be one of the “wild cards” in either the Early Influencers or the Musical Excellence fields.
A Tribe Called Quest is a rap act that would probably never earn their induction through the Performers vote. Thus, it is time to nip this one quick and put them in with the Musical Excellence category. In fact, you could do this with several deserving rap acts, such as DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock, Eric B. and Rakim, and Kurtis Blow, to recognize their influences.
Robinson is a woman who took rap from the streets to the record stores in the 1970s and 1980s. Her creation of Sugarhill Records brought about The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Funky Four Plus One, icons in the world of rap (and, in the case of Grandmaster Flash, a Rock Hall inductee). The label was integral to the development of rap in the United States and Robinson should be recognized for what she did.
Finally, the reason that there are two WILD CARD choices there is for the simple fact that the Rock Hall can sometimes simply pull a rabbit out of the hat on the fans, especially with the non-voting inductees. Last year, for example, Randy Rhoads, Billy Preston, and Kraftwerk going in through the “side door” completely ambushed the fans. It is highly likely that we see something like that happen again with artists that weren’t even on the radar for this year’s inductions.
We will find out in May who will make up the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Then the debate will start on who is deserving of the honor, how the Rock Hall is a “sellout,” how the Rock Hall isn’t “rock”…you know, the regular ad nauseum criticisms that the Rock Hall receives. One thing is true, however – whoever is announced as the Class of 2022 will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this fall and take their rightful place beside the legends of rock and roll, regardless of what the critics or especially the fans think of the vote.
It has been nearly two weeks since the Rock Hall Nominating Committee, under the auspices of Jon Landau, Tom Morello, Questlove and twenty-some odd other people, released the names of the artists and bands that are nominated for this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Class. It is arguably the best class that the Nomination Committee has produced in ages, giving the Voting Committee several differing artist and groups to consider for their place in the pantheon of rock and roll. In fact, it is going to be extremely difficult for the voters to pick only five choices for their ballots (traditionally the Voting Committee members are limited to only five votes).
Before we get into ranking the nominees for the Class of 2022, we have got to set one thing in stone. This is the ROCK & ROLL Hall of Fame, not the “Rock Hall of Fame.” Rock and roll is the overarching musical styling that has been popular since the 1950s, incorporating all forms of music including rock, jazz, country, folk, blues, electronica, funk, R&B, soul…I could go on all day listing the ingredients to the rock and roll gumbo, but we would never get to the actual point. “Rock music,” in fact, is only but a SMALL PART of what “rock and roll is.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was not created to be the personal jukebox of anyone. It is there for several purposes, none of them someone’s own personal glory. One of them is to honor those that have truly innovated in the world of rock and roll, those who had a massive impact on the music and society. Another purpose is to serve as a repository for the historical recording of these artists and the incredible music that they have done. The final, and arguably the most important part, is to serve as an area where this history can serve as a learning mechanism for those who come after us.
It is not about ticket sales. It is not about a great concert tour. It is not about being shit hot for three or four years. You have to have made your impact on rock and roll for a lifetime, not a flash in the pan. That is why many acts that people scream about have NEVER been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, in all actuality, probably never will.
On that note, let us take a look, in reverse order, at the nominees for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is going to be one of those things that, even if you are the worst, you are still in a rarefied air of a nominee, at the minimum.
17. Dionne Warwick – Back for another run at induction and, just like last year, I’ve got to wonder why. Is this like the brothers in Trading Places, wagering on whether they can make a bum into a Wall Street fat cat and betting each other a dollar on the outcome? I could imagine Tommy Mottola and David Geffen making this bet with each other, with one advocating for Warwick and the other against.
Look, Warwick is a pleasant voice. She has had an extensive career. But there are several downsides to her even being considered. She does not even have the best voice in her own family – that would go to Whitney Houston, hands down, and Sissy would even give a run. Another fact is that, on her popular tunes, she was not even top billing – on “That’s What Friends Are For,” she tagged on the coattails of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight. No, Warwick is not deserving of induction and, since someone has to take the bottom rung of the ladder, this seems like a good place to start.
16. Carly Simon – After Carole King’s induction last year, Simon has become the cause celebre of many in the music world. This is Simon’s first nomination for induction and, on the surface, she would appear to be worthy of being higher on the list (writing and performing the classic “You’re So Vain” will do that for you). But if you look deeper, you will see the score isn’t quite as high as many think it should be.
Simon’s timeframe of success was actually shorter than you would expect for a vocalist. She was only truly successful from 1972-1978, and when the songs she performed were hits, they sometimes were not even her own creation (“Nobody Does it Better,” arguably her most noted hit outside of “Vain,” was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager). Simon’s career is a case of one of those sayings that I often use – it is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, not the Rock & Roll Hall of Pretty Good.
15. Lionel Ritchie – I put Ritchie this low because he is not being inducted in the right manner. Yes, his solo career in the 1980s was quite good, one of the biggest pop stars of the era. But it is the complete and utter disregard of his early career’s work – and what he should be nominated for – that is my cause of disagreement.
Ritchie should have been nominated with The Commodores, the R&B/funk act that were one of the groundbreakers in the world of music during the 1970s. There are a few others that fall in this category – Parliament/Funkadelic is already in, while Kool & The Gang and the Ohio Players should be considered (and there is always the argument for Rufus and Chaka Khan) – and to bypass The Commodores and just put Ritchie in on his own completely overlooks this group that put him on the map. It is an error that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame makes FAR too often, not looking at the linear time of history, and one that should be rectified with the organization.
14. Beck – This is NOT an indictment of the talent, innovation and creativity of the artist known as Beck. It is more of a statement about the quality of the nomination class overall. SOMEBODY has to take the lower edges of the rankings and it sometimes comes down to individual preferences.
Beck has been one of the most creative artists of the 90s, but he always seems like he DOESN’T want the respect of anyone. If critics start to like him too much, he goes poppy. If he gets too popular, he breaks from his fans with a critically acclaimed effort. This constant zigzag of a career will allow you to make some really groundbreaking music, but it does not exactly endear you to anyone.
13. Devo – I can hear some wailing over this one right now. Devo has long been overlooked as one of the bands at the forefront of the synth rock/electronica era, serving as an influence on many who came after them in the 1980s and 90s. You could probably lay the inductions of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails on the mantle of Devo breaking the barriers.
Their minimalist stylings and quirky stage shows made the name of Devo in the late 70s/early 80s. But they were not really able to sustain that effort for an extended period. Mark Mothersbaugh, the founder and chief creator of Devo’s sound and vision, moved on to doing movie and television soundtracks, which might be where many know him best. I could see them being inducted if the ceremonies this year were held in Cleveland; as it is in Los Angeles, I think the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame might hold them off for a couple more years.
12. A Tribe Called Quest – I am going to be honest about this one from the start. My knowledge of rap is not outstanding, but I have heard of and recognize how influential the work of ATCQ has been. Because of my lack of knowledge, however, I cannot rank them any higher, especially with the talent that I believe is ahead of them.
The band incorporated different musical stylings into their rap product, with jazz and alternative music influences showing up in their tunes. They also took a different lyrical approach with some very astute commentary on inner city life and other social issues. Overall, they were a tremendously smart rap band and one that is deserving of a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – just not this year (or at least by the voting method).
11. Fela Kuti – There were a whole bunch of people who said “who?” when Kuti was nominated in 2021. He has long been advocated for induction by Nomination Committee member Questlove and I am sure that Questlove does not get people nominated to not take them all the way to induction. Kuti is one of the people on the list of nominees who could very well take the Early Influence route to induction, especially if it does not look like he will be voted in.
You can hear the Afrobeat stylings that Kuti originated in many performers that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. David Byrne of Talking Heads has called Kuti an influence on his musical stylings, and Peter Gabriel falls in that camp also. Is this advocacy enough to get Kuti over the hump? That is definitely a question that needs to be answered.
10. MC5 – Garage rock is one of the genres that you can certainly say has been shorted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. MC5 is arguably one of the originals in that genre, along with some of the tunes from The Who and The Kinks, two of the British purveyors of what might be called “garage rock.” Mixing up surf stylings with their native Detroit R&B sound (and a heaping helping of political commentary), MC5 certainly set themselves apart from the pack in the 60s.
MC5, unfortunately, burned out rather quickly. They only got three albums under their belt in a brief three-year career and they’re basically known for one song – “Kick Out the Jams.” This seems more like a worthy entry for the Singles category (after not nominating any songs in 2021) rather than a full-fledged induction of the group.
9. Dolly Parton – What’s that? More screaming from the readers? This is why I made the statement I did at the start of our trek in this essay. Country music is an important part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To be honest, there should be more members of the country community inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I can think of Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and even Hank Williams, Jr. and Garth Brooks as worthy of consideration.
But it should all start with inducting Dolly. She has had a monumental impact on music and her songwriting efforts are beyond compare. Her philanthropy is legendary (I wouldn’t want something like that to become a criterion for induction, but it works in Parton’s case). Considering that there are only 11 inductees from the country music realm among the 338 individuals and groups that have been previously into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I think it is time we considered some more.
8. Eminem – A first year eligible nominee, you are also going to see Eminem inducted come November. I will say this right now, he is the only lock that is in the 17 nominees for this year’s class. He has been a critical and commercial juggernaut and has helped to further music and, yes, has been the controversial figure that traditionally is needed in music – what is more “rock and roll” than that?
So, you might ask…why is he rated so low? It is something that also applies to several others on this list. The overall excellence of the roster is going to push some artists/groups down the ladder. I get that some may have Marshall Mathers up higher than this, and I respect that. It is a situation where I felt the artists/groups ahead of Eminem were more deserving.
7. New York Dolls – Another one of those long-overlooked acts that should have been inducted many years ago. This is something else that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has become famous for – bypassing the forebears of a musical styling while inducting those that come after the fact. Don’t hold your breath on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame changing this any time soon, either.
The Dolls were the forerunners of the glam rock/punk movement in the U. S., much like T. Rex pushed the genre in the U. K. The downside once again is a lack of longevity, something the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voters like to take under consideration. But give kudos where they are due – New York Dolls are more than deserving of entry.
6. Rage Against the Machine – The four-time nominated band out of Los Angeles would seem to be a lock for induction. They said that back when they were first nominated in 2018…and in 2019…and in 2021. What could be holding RATM out? Could it be the fact of Morello’s involvement in the Nomination process? If so, that is a pretty shitty reason.
Combining the stylings of rap and rock into a potent and explosive brand of rock and roll, Rage Against the Machine pointed out the hypocrisies they saw in the world, whether it is the financial system or politics as a whole. These ideas don’t come from the void – Morello is a Harvard educated political science graduate, and he is well versed in pretty much every area that the band offers commentary. They might be denied entry is because of that dreaded “lack of longevity” – four albums in eight years before they broke up – but they burned bright when the fire was on.
5. Kate Bush – I have often said that, if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were located in London rather than Cleveland, it would look tremendously different. There would be many artists that would be inducted if it were in England that cannot seem to crack through the wall here in the States. Bush would be one of these artists.
With her ethereal voice and offbeat musical styling, Bush has set her own course throughout her entire career. She worked with David Gilmour and Peter Gabriel before striking out on her own and her music has incorporated literary classics into a perfect setting (“Wuthering Heights”). Bush should be inducted, sooner rather than later, to pay tribute to her outstanding body of work.
4. Eurythmics – You might put this band down lower, but the reason I hold them in the regard that I do is that they were at the forefront of a musical revolution. They not only added to the “MTV Generation” of rock and roll, Eurythmics also benefitted greatly from that exposure. Along the way, they touched on every form of music and did so outstandingly.
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had their hands in electronica, synth rock, R&B, soul, ballads, even just plain ol’ rock and roll, and they excelled in every area. Stewart’s mastery in the studio was overshadowed by Lennox’s simply mesmerizing vocal abilities, but one would not have been as great a success if they hadn’t joined with the other (at least in the early 80s). You might suggest that Lennox get a solo induction, but the way she should enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is with Stewart and for their work in Eurythmics.
3. Duran Duran – Another beneficiary of the “MTV Generation,” it is hard to believe that this is the first nomination for Duran Duran to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Why? Well, from what many have said, their “pretty boy” looks were held against them. Furthermore, they were not looked at as “serious” musicians, despite the fact that the band were true musicians and not a “front” group for session acts.
The musical styling of Duran Duran was diverse also. They could hit you with a great rock song, then come with a ballad, then deliver the pop side of the equation. The one constant was that they did it all excellently. And let us not forget the standard they set with their video work – the Rio album alone, and the videos done for that disc, should be enough to punch the ticket to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
2. Judas Priest – If you look up “oversight” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Judas Priest. They have been eligible for the Hall since 1999 and, in the time since then, have only earned TWO nominations, in 2018 and 2020. This third nomination should be their last, concluded with their induction.
Heavy metal would not be what it is today without the input of Judas Priest. From the “chains and leather” look to the driving, unruly sound of the dual guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Dowling, it could only be topped with the operatic wail of Rob Halford to truly take it to the stratosphere. I would list the songs that would qualify them for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but we’d be here for hours if I did.
1. Pat Benatar – Benatar should really be a lA to Priest’s 1B, because both acts have been abused by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame oversight in ignoring their contributions. If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is serious about inducting more women into its entourage, then why haven’t you already put in THE predominant woman rock star of the 1980s? If you talked about rock in the 80s, the conversation started with Benatar, and it finished there.
If there was one thing that is keeping her out, it would be a “conspiracy theory” that I’ve heard. Benatar, despite her greatness, might be holding out for having her husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo inducted alongside her. To put it bluntly, she might not take the induction if he is not inducted with her. I certainly hope that I am wrong in this case because, if it is true, it seems to be a rather silly reason (on both sides) to not induct such a legend.
This is the “best to worst” rankings of the nominees for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It is in NO WAY what I think is going to happen when the inductions actually come down, however! The issue is that I have “my list” of who I would like to induct, and then there’s the “reality check” of those who actually will be inducted. We will get to that another time, probably before the announcement in May of the Class of 2022, but we’ve got enough meat to chew on here for discussion for quite some time!
It is that time of year again – the air is crisp with a chill, people are out buying their Christmas trees, and, for my Jewish friends, their menorah is lit a little early (Happy Hanukkah, guys and girls!). One thing that everyone is looking for, however, is ideas for presents. I have come up with a list that, just as a coincidence, also happens to be my picks for some of the best CDs that were released in the past year. There is something here for everyone, so take a look at the roster of albums I’ve selected and perhaps you’ll be able to take someone’s name off your list!
(As an aside, I DO NOT receive any money for these selections, even though you will find a link to how to purchase these items – these are truly some of the CDs that I have enjoyed over the year and think very highly of them.)
Let us get it started, shall we?
Up first we have a brand-new band that hit the scene like a hurricane in 2021 (no insult to Nita “Hurricane” Strauss intended!). Plush is a band that came together rather quickly in 2021, with all four of its members UNDER the age of 21 – that’s right, they cannot legally drink when they are out on tour! Singer/guitarist Moriah Formica, lead guitarist Bella Peron, bassist Ashley Suppa and drummer Brooke Colucci blew people away with their first song “Hate,” and followed it up in October with their self-titled debut CD.
This CD rocks from start to finish, but I came to a discovery. While listening to the song “Athena,” it finally hit me who Formica reminds me of as a vocalist. She is quite comparable in style, quality and strength to Ann Wilson of Heart. Add in the virtuosity of Peron, Suppa and Colucci on their respective instruments and they offer us a relived glimpse into the future of what rock music might look like. Plush just finished an opening tour set with Lzzy Hale and Halestorm and Amy Lee and Evanescence – if you are opening for bands like that, they also think you have got some talent!
I will be honest on this one…I was not initially sold on Wolfgang Van Halen, the only son of the late Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli. His work with his father and uncle Alex in the revamped Van Halen really did not show much of what he could do, thus I was skeptical when I heard he was coming out with his debut CD following the passing of his dad in late 2020. Let it be said now that I have been converted.
Mammoth WVH (Mammoth was the original name of Van Halen that Wolfgang asked if he could use for his group) was completely the work of the younger Van Halen, who played EVERY instrument on the record. Over six years, he slaved over the album and the time taken was well worth it. The self-titled debut is a perfect record, from the strains of “Don’t Back Down” to the tune that Wolfgang wrote for his father, “Distance.” The ONLY issue I can see is that this record sets the bar EXTREMELY high for Wolfgang when he comes down to doing the follow-up.
This list is not all about established artists. Through my work, I have been exposed to some independent artists that are putting their blood, sweat and tears into their music and trying to work their way up to multi-platinum albums and stadium shows. One of those groups that I have found is Austin, TX’s The Metal Byrds, who put out arguably their best effort in their fourth career album, naturally titled 4.
Vocalist Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye both carry full time jobs (Rye is a first responder, Birdie works with an airline) while they pursue their dreams of musical glory. They write about many different issues on 4, from paying tribute to a young fan on “Spitfire Pete” to enjoying their time away from their “day jobs” with “Life of the Party.” The download can be found on Bandcamp (a GREAT place to find lots of new music), where you can also pick up some of the other music from The Metal Byrds. These guys deserve to get that major label deal – they have the talent, they’ve got the drive, and they’ve got the substance from their catalog.
Up next might be a surprising choice from me, at least to those that know me. During the pandemic shutdown, Americana legend Lucinda Williams did shows called “Lu’s Jukebox” where she performed music that has shaped her musical stylings. Those pandemic recordings have become a six-part series of CDs, with five of them already out and the sixth, a tribute to The Rolling Stones, coming out in 2022.
Of the efforts, my personal favorite has been Williams’ tribute album to the late Tom Petty. Running Down a Dream: A Tribute toTom Petty took Williams a bit outside her comfort zone, especially when attacking such rock classics as Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “You Wreck Me.” But she did an outstanding job throughout the album, which was the first one released of the series. You would be well advised to pick up ALL of the CDs, but especially Williams’ tribute to Tom Petty (in the series she also covers country music tunes and Bob Dylan).
OK, just suggested six CDs in that last segment, so I am going to name two in this one because the ladies are quite similar in their approaches. First up is the return of 90s spitfire Liz Phair, whose 2021 CD Soberish deserves a place on every “top album” list for the year. After a decade away from the game, Phair showed that she had not lost any of her prickly nature, nor her ability to craft a song. The title track in particular was outstanding, as was her ode to Lou Reed, “Hey Lou.”
The tandem partner to the Phair CD would be another discovery I found during my radio work this year. Tamar Berk’s the restless dreams of youth (yes, Berk is a Rush fan!) was simply an excellent demonstration of crafting an album. With turns of phrase that remind you of Phair, Berk still makes her music her own, especially on tunes like “Socrates and Me” and “Shadow Clues.” This is an artist that deserves more attention for her efforts – get to Bandcamp and give Berk’s work some love.
As Monty Python used to say “And now for something completely different…”
The band Ice Nine Kills carved a niche out in hard rock three years ago with an album called The Silver Scream. The 2018 album was Spencer Charnas and Company’s interpretations of classic horror and slasher films in a musical context. They did such an excellent job with it that it deserved its own sequel, as horror and slasher films are wont to do – hence, Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream IImakes an appearance on our list.
You might think they would run out of ways to do these songs, but INK continues to produce inventive and entertaining ways to interpret these compositions. On The Silver Scream II, most notable are “Hip to be Scared” (an ode to the movie American Psycho), “Rainy Day” (taking on the Resident Evil franchise) and even the classic “The Shower Scene” (yes, about the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho). Can Charnas and Ice Nine Kills continue with the sequels? As they say, let’s tune in a couple of years down the road.
You cannot put together a “best of” list for 2021 without including Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters. Just when you think they are getting too old to play this game anymore, they come up with one of their best efforts in years in Medicine at Midnight. It has been a fantastic year for the band, with their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and other accolades, and the success of Midnight is well deserved.
This is another group that I found through my efforts in radio, coming out of Canada. Sumo Cyco is like No Doubt and Slipknot had a baby, and the resulting album this year,Initiation, was perfectly crafted to display the skills of the band. Such tracks as “Vertigo” and “Bystander” should have gotten much more airtime from mainstream radio – that they did not is a huge crime.
We are going to wrap this up with a couple of bluesy acts.
First up is the Jamie Porter Band, who released their latest CD MMXXI just last month. The band often gets lopped in with the NWOCR category (New Wave of Classic Rock) that is quite popular in the United Kingdom, but I think that Jamie Porter and his entourage just do some damn great blues rock. “Save Me” and “You Can’t Bring Me Down” are the best efforts off this CD, but the entirety is a joy to sit back and listen to with a drink in hand.
Finally, we have guitarist Samantha Fish, who released her newest CD Fasterin the final quarter of 2021. Fish has already gained acclaim for her guitar prowess, and she is taking that talent to the next level in working with differing sounds and genres. She caught a little flak from the blues community for working with Tech 9ine on one of the best tracks on the album, “Loud,” but Fish was stubborn in her insistence on collaborating with the rapper. “All Ice No Whiskey” and “Crowd Control” further demonstrated that Fish is continuing to expand her world beyond just the blues box.
While these are the “best of,” I would be remiss if I didn’t name a few “Honorable Mentions” to the roster. Check these albums out too:
It is a question that is asked frequently when the discussion of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame comes up. Of all the artists who have performed in the history of the genre, who REALLY deserves to be there that hasn’t gotten in yet? The Renegades Radio Podcast took this question to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Official Fan Space on Facebook and, after over 100 replies, got a general look at who the members of the Facebook page thought should be there.
Whether the genre is 70s rock, female vocalists and bands or singer/songwriters, the Fan Space was loud and proud about who they thought should be there! Join us for an hour (or so) and see if you agree with what the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Official Fan Space thought about the subject!
There have been 221 artists and groups that have been enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. As with any group, there have to be the best…and the worst…of the inductees. In the first of a two-part episode of the Renegades Radio Podcast, we’re going to examine the rankings of those 221 members of the Rock Hall.
In Part I, we’re going to look at those who are considered to be the WORST of the inductees into the Rock Hall, and there are some surprises. Do you agree with rock historians and critics, who were responsible for compiling this list? Or are they off their rockers? Let us know by listening to this episode of the Renegades Radio Podcast and getting in touch with us afterwards!
Before there was Elvis…before there was Chuck Berry…before Bill Haley “rocked around the clock”…there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Tharpe (an artist you will hear on the air here at Renegades Radio) was a legendary gospel/blues/soul artist who was legendary for her guitar playing style. Get to know the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee here!
In the latest edition of the Renegades Radio Podcast, we’ll take a look at some of the artists and bands that have, in many cases, NEVER been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That includes the lady you see above, Pat Benatar, and many others. Listen to find out who SHOULD be in the Hall!