Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2021

Billy Preston, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, LL Cool J, finally

Here are two possibly contradictory things. I know that who gets, or doesn’t get, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t equate with their talent, commercial success, or “worthiness.” And, for the most part, I am really quite happy who got in this season. Here was my wish list. Maybe next year for Chaka Khan and Devo.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reveals its 2021 Inductees, celebrating the most diverse list of Inductees in the history of the organization.”

Performer Category

go gosTina Turner – for a time, she and Fela Kuti were vying for the top spot on the fan ballot. In the end, Tina won going away. I didn’t vote for her because she was already in, with Ike Turner and I chose to vote for those who weren’t in at all. But I’m not complaining, as I have two of her solo albums.
The Best 

Carole King – she ended up sixth on the five performer ballot. I didn’t vote for her either, as she was in as a songwriter with Gerry Goffin. But no complaints here, even though Tapestry is the only album of hers I own.

The Go-Go’s – came in third in the fan voting. I voted for them and saw them perform 30 years ago in Albany. 
We Got The Beat 

JAY-Z – near the bottom of the fan vote, but an understandable pick.
Song Cry 

Foo Fighters – in the top five of the fan vote. I didn’t vote for them, primarily because Dave Grohl was already in the Rock Hall with Nirvana. But I like Grohl. He’s been Touring in a Van, Interviewing Rock Stars and; Performing with His Daughter. 

Todd Rundgren – YES! His third time on the ballot is the charm. He’s been my #1 or #2 pick each year. Nazz, Utopia, solo work, plus producing.
Appropriately, Just One Victory 

Early Influence Award

Kraftwerk – it was on the ballot about a dozen times. Not this year, but they got in anyway, and that’s great.
list from J. Eric Smith.

Charley Patton  – Wikipedia says (April 1891 (probable) – April 28, 1934) he was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the ‘Father of the Delta Blues’, he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians.
Spoonful Blues 

Gil Scott-Heron – an inspired choice. In case you don’t know, “his music… influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo-soul.”
We Almost Lost Detroit 

Musical Excellence Award

This is an odd category. It used to be the “sidemen” award for folks such as Motown’s James Jamerson or Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew. But, under the new title, it has included Ringo Starr.

LL Cool J – I’ve been pushing for him for years, and I voted for him this year, but he was in the bottom two of the popular vote.
I Need Love 

Billy Preston – MY FAVORITE CHOICE. Nearly a decade ago, I made the case why he should be included. 
My Sweet Lord (live)

Randy Rhoads – I must admit, I know the name, but not the body of work from Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osborne

Ahmet Ertegun Award

Clarence Avant – read the Wikipedia article about the Black Godfather, who made black music more visible.

Yeah, there are more musicians to get in. But I must make my annual appeal for Estelle Axton in this category.

Music: Do What You Want – Billy Preston

The That’s The Way God Planned It album was produced by one George Harrison

Do What You WantIn May of 1971, I hitchhiked from Binghamton to New Paltz to see my girlfriend. Long story short, she broke up with me, and I was pretty devastated.

She did kindly drive me to a boarding school in nearby Poughkeepsie, where I saw my friend Steve. I had met him in Binghamton Central High School a couple years earlier. I don’t remember much about what we talked about, except he was really looking forward to seeing this great new singer named Bonnie Raitt again. I’d never of her.

At some point, he played the 1969 Billy Preston album That’s The Way God Planned It, produced by one George Harrison and released on Apple Records, with pikers such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Ginger Baker playing on it. Naturally, I knew who Preston was from the Beatles Get Back session.

The first track on the album, Do What You Want, I loved instantly. It’s a wonderfully imperfect recording that starts off much slower than it ends. (The song When You Dance, I Can Really Love by Neil Young from that era does the same thing.)

Recently, I was looking for Do What You Want To on YouTube, and I came across a DIFFERENT recording on Billy’s eponymous 11th album from 1976 on A&M. It’s not a BAD song, but I find it far inferior.

it’s rather like the lyrics to the B-side of Outa-Space, one of Billy’s A&M hits, I Wrote a Simple Song:
I wrote a simple song
With simple words and harmony
Wasn’t very long
Before a star, I was bound to be

They took my simple song, yes, they did
They changed the words and the melody
Made it all sound wrong, yeah
Now it sounds like a symphony

There are very few people – Dustbury is probably one – who has such a specific memory of music in a time and place as I do.

Listen to
Do What You Want (1969)
Do What You Want (1976)

That’s The Way God Planned It (#62 pop in 1969, #65 pop in 1972)

I Wrote a Simple Song (#77 pop in 1972)

I saw Billy Preston live at the Elting Gym at the college in New Paltz in 1971 or 1972. He would have been 72 this month.

2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee fan vote

That first Steppenwolf album I listened to constantly

the_cars_-_the_essentialsFor the past couple of years, you, the popular music fan, have been allowed to select up to five Nominees you think should be Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, from the admittedly flawed list of candidates. The aggregate vote gets tallied as one vote, along with the experts.

Last year, I rooted for Chicago, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, The Spinners, and Yes. Chicago, which won the fan vote last year made it into the Hall, though popularity there did not assure induction. Los Lobos and the Spinners are not even on the ballot this year.

The 2017 Nominees are:

Bad Brains– heard of, but only barely. Hardcore punk band of the 1970s and beyond.
Chaka Khan – for both her music with Rufus and her solo material. And we share the same birth month.
Chic -I’ve said three years running that “its sound still relevant, though if Nile Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards got in as non-performers (songwriter/producer), I could accept that.”
Depeche Mode – I like their moody electronic sound. Eventually, I say.
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – the group’s been around for a long time, back to 1970. I could vote for them, though if Jeff Lynne got noted for writer/producer, that’d be sweet, too

The J. Geils Band – another band that’s been around longer than I realized; Peter Wolf is seven years to the day older than I, so you’d THINK that would move my needle of support, but it did not
Jane’s Addiction – a group I’ve heard of, and have a couple of songs on compilations. But they started in 1985, and they can wait.
Janet Jackson – nominated last year, possibly one of the most worthy. Yet, because she’s relatively young, I think she’ll get in eventually.
*Joan Baez – an odd choice. She’s not a real rock person. I mean I LOVE Joan. An early album of hers was massively important to me. But though she was a contemporary of Dylan, I still would peg her musically more like an early influence, in the same category as Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie. But I’m voting for her anyway.
Joe Tex – I know who the late Joe Tex was. I saw his album covers on the inner sleeves of those Sam & Dave and Aretha Franklin albums my sister and I bought in the 1960s. But I never owned his music.

Journey – for a time in the early 1980s, they were ubiquitous, and not in a good way
Kraftwerk – their influence is reportedly legendary, yet I have none of their music
MC5 – They put out one of their albums that was huge for me. They were a legendary live band.
Pearl Jam – I have three of their albums. Still, they’re too recent for me to even consider. Naturally, they’ll get in on their first year of eligibility.
Steppenwolf – that first Steppenwolf album I listened to constantly

The Cars – I found their music incredibly catchy. They were third in the public voting last time out.
The Zombies – I like their hits quite a bit, and they put out one legendary album, essentially after they broke up. They’re worthy, but when I have five to pick out of 19, I haven’t picked them
Tupac Shakur – another artist I know by name, and reputation, and how he died in 1996, but not really his music
Yes – inexplicably, they weren’t even nominated until last year, when they came in second in the public voting. The dearth of progressive rock in the Hall is quite astounding. Now that Yes mainstay Chris Squire, unfortunately, passed away this past year, maybe THAT will sway the voters.

I’ve been voting consistently for Chaka Khan, Joan Baez – can’t have too many women in a sometimes boys club – The Cars, and, of course, Yes. My fifth vote, I scattered between MC 5 and Steppenwolf, before deciding on ELO.

I STILL would like to see:

Estelle Axton to be selected in the non-performer award, now known as the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Her brother Jim Stewart, the co-founder of STAX records with her, was inducted way back in 2002!

Billy Preston to be selected in the sideman category, now known as the Award for Musical Excellence. They got Leon Russell and Ringo Starr in under that mantle. Also in that designation, put in the members of the Wrecking Crew not already in there, including Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, and Tommy Tedesco.

Yes, there are plenty of artists that haven’t gotten in that should, including, but not limited to, the Moody Blues, Link Wray (pick him in the Musical Excellence category), and Warren Zevon.

Music throwback Saturday: Those Were The Days

mary-hopkinBack in 2010, the year it came out, I purchased Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records. The CD was “the first commercially issued multi-artist compilation in the label’s history.” It didn’t cost the nearly $40 it’s now going for presently on Amazon, though you can get the MP3 for $9.50.

It’s a fun 21-track compilation of singles from 1968 to 1972, though not truly the “best of Apple.” For one thing, there are no Beatles songs, nor any of their solo material. Still, the Fab Four are well represented, often as songwriters and/or producers.

Those Were The Days / Mary Hopkin (1968, produced by Paul), or HERE. The debut 45 by Mary Hopkin was a huge hit, UK No. 1 for six weeks, #2 for 3 weeks in the US. I remember I purchased this 45 because, subsequently, I realized that I had THREE songs called Those Were the Days in my record collection, by Hopkin, Cream (the B-side of White Room), and the theme to the television show All in the Family.

Carolina In My Mind / James Taylor (1968, Paul on bass; George on backing vocals), from this eponymous debut album, a US single which hit #115 in 1969, then #67 in its 1970 re-release. This sounds quite different to me than his re-recording for Warner Brothers, which I have on his first greatest hits album.

Maybe Tomorrow / The Iveys (1968)
Brought to Apple by then-Beatles roadie Mal Evans. #67 in the US, but a hit in Holland; the band soon changed its name to Badfinger.

Thingumybob / The Black Dyke Mills Band (1968, credited to Lennon/McCartney, written and produced by Paul)
Paul’s theme tune for a 1968 British TV comedy-drama series.

King Of Fuh / Brute Force (1969)
This single by New York songwriter was championed by John and George, but “the Fuh king” was therefore banned back in 1969, as one would expect.

Sour Milk Sea / Jackie Lomax (1968, written and produced by George; Paul and Ringo provide rhythm )
Eric Clapton plays lead guitar. I have the LP with this song.

Goodbye / Mary Hopkin (1969, credited to Lennon/McCartney, written and produced by Paul)
Paul on thigh-slapping percussion. On some CD, I have Paul’s demo

That’s The Way God Planned It / Billy Preston (1969, produced by George, also guitar)
Reaching No. 11 in the UK, but only #62 in the US. Keith Richards on bass, Ginger Baker on drums, and Eric Clapton on lead guitar. I remember first hearing the album – this is the title song – in the room of my friend Steve in Poughkeepsie in 1971. I went home and bought it on vinyl, where it got well worn. When I purchased The Best of Apple, I also bought the That’s The Way God Planned It CD.

New Day / Jackie Lomax (1969)
An original non-album Lomax single co-produced with Mal Evans.

Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight / Trash (1969, written by Lennon-McCartney)
Two songs from The Beatles’ Abbey Road, recorded by this Scottish group

Give Peace A Chance / Hot Chocolate Band (1969, written by John; originally credited to Lennon/McCartney, but since changed)
This completely re-worded British reggae version of John Lennon’s peace anthem

More in the near future.

Billy Preston would have been 70

I continue to nag that Billy Preston should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,

billy-prestonWhen I was in college at SUNY New Paltz, WAY back in the spring of 1972 (I think), I saw Billy Preston in concert, probably the second live concert of a “name” artist that I ever saw, after Seals & Crofts. He must have played in the Elting Gym. I took pictures, but from where I was seated, in the rafters, all I got was shadows and the backs of people’s heads.

You SHOULD know Billy Preston, keyboard player extraordinaire.

Wrote about him five years ago. Not much has changed since then, since he died about three months shy of his 60th birthday, on 06/06/06 from “complications of malignant hypertension that resulted in kidney failure and other complications,” probably from drug use.

Well, there is one thing I learned in the last lustrum. From the Wikipedia:

Although the details did not become fully known to the general public until after his death, Preston struggled throughout his life to cope with his sexual orientation, and the lasting effects of the traumatic sexual abuse he suffered as a boy. Although his homosexuality became known to friends and associates in the music world… Preston did not publicly come out as gay until just before he died. This was reportedly partly due to the fact that Preston felt that his sexual orientation conflicted with his deeply held religious beliefs and his lifelong association with the church, so he remained “in the closet” until shortly before his death. Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, mentions Billy Preston’s struggles with his sexuality.

As someone who grew up in the black church, I can imagine the internal struggle.

I continue to nag that he should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, under the Award for Musical Excellence category, which used to be the sidemen category.

Last time, I concentrated on songs Billy Preston played on other people’s records. This time, my favorite Billy Preston tracks, with links to all, and notation of chart action.

7. Nothing from Nothing from The Kids & Me – #1 US, #8 US R&B
6. I Wrote a Simple Song from I Wrote A Simple Song (IWASS) – #77 US
5. It Doesn’t Matter from That’s They Way God Planned It (TTWGPI)
4. Outa-Space (IWASS) – #2 US, #1 US R&B, #44 UK
3. That’s the Way God Planned It (Parts 1 & 2) (TTWGPI) – #62 US, #11 UK
2, Will It Go Round in Circles from Music Is My Life – #1 US, #10 US R&B
1. Do What You Want (TWGPI) – I LOVE how slowly it starts, and how fast it’s going at the end

And I SO like this:
11-year-old Billy Preston; Nat “King” Cole

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