2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

satisfaction

Todd Rundgren Gtr Player 1977On February 10, I received an email: “Hello rock and roll fans! We’re excited to announce this year’s Nominees for induction into the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers fans the opportunity to participate in the Induction selection process with the Fan Vote. Through April 30, fans can vote every day at rockhall.com, or at the Museum in Cleveland. The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a ‘fans’ ballot’ that will be tallied along with the other ballots to select the 2021 Inductees.

For the past three years, I’ve had this no-doubter.

#TODD RUNDGREN
This is the third year in a row he’s been nominated. Two years ago, I wrote: “I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others… He’s a wizard, a true star.”
I Saw the Light  

“To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. Seven out of 16 of the Nominees are on the ballot for the first time, including Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, Fela Kuti, and Dionne Warwick.”

They got the beat

My next choice: #The GO-GO’S:
They’ve had a resurgence of sorts with a 2020 documentary about “the first all-women group to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and snag a #1 hit.” I’ll admit my bias since I saw them at J.B. Scott’s in Albany back in 1981. They played the entire first album and a non-album B-side.
Our Lips Are Sealed 

I don’t know Iron Maiden’s music very well. But the other first-timers on the list I could make a case for.

Dionne Warwick has no chance with the fans. She does not rock, and while neither did her young cousin Whitney Houston, who has been inducted, Whitney wasn’t doing Bacharach and David. I’m fond of Dionne, and maybe I’ll vote for her down the road.

On the other hand, I was shocked by the votes for the late Fela Kuti, who was leading the pack early. I didn’t think the originator of Afrobeat was that well-known, certainly not in the US. I don’t have any of his albums as such, but I do have Red Hot + Riot, which features his music. If things get close, I might switch to him.

#CHAKA KHAN:
“Chaka Khan was previously nominated both solo and with the band Rufus.”
Frankly, I’m not feeling Rufus for the Hall. But Chaka’s body of work, absolutely. This is her 7th nomination either solo or in the group.
I Feel for You 

“If elected, Carole King and Tina Turner will become the second and third female artists inducted twice, following Stevie Nicks’ 2019 election. If Foo Fighters are inducted, Dave Grohl will also become a twice-inducted performer.” And, I suppose, because there are so many deserving nominees, I won’t be voting for any of these.

Uncontrollable urge

#DEVO
Wikipedia says “their music… mingling kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary. Who knew how prescient they would be?
Whip It 

Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, and especially The New York Dolls would be on my ballot if I had more picks. Mary J. Blige and Jay Z, as first-timers, will get nominated again, I’m sure.

#LL COOL J; Eligible year: 2009
This is his sixth nomination, previously considered in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, and 2019. His historic import, I suspect, has been buried a bit by his acting success.
I’m Bad 

You can vote every day, presumably. An “overwhelming” fan response crashed the Fan Vote early the first morning but was fixed in short order.

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: I’ll Be Good To You

I was in a doctor’s office back in October 2015 which played surprisingly good, and eclectic, music.

Quincy_Jones_-_Back_On_The_Block-frontBack in 1989, I picked up this album produced by Quincy Jones, called Back on the Block. “The album features legendary musicians and singers from across three generations, including Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Barry White, Take 6, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Al B. Sure!, James Ingram, and El DeBarge.”

The album went to #9 on the Billboard album charts and was so eclectic that it hit #1 on both the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.

The first single of the collection was I’ll Be Good To You, featuring Ray Charles and Chaka Khan. It was a hit, #18 on the US pop charts, and #1 for two weeks on the rhythm and blues charts in 1990.

I was in a doctor’s office back in October 2015 which played surprisingly good, and eclectic music. I hear I’ll be Good To You, but it’s surely not the Quincy version. It turns out that it was by The Brothers Johnson, who I’ve mentioned on this blog before.

How did I miss this version, written by the Brothers Johnson (George and Louis) and Sonora Sam, and produced by Quincy? It got up to #3 for three weeks in 1976, as well as #1 on the r&b charts.

I’ll Be Good To You:
Quincy Jones, Ray Charles & Chaka Khan

The Brothers Johnson
The Brothers Johnson
The Brothers Johnson on Midnight Special

Quincy Jones turns 83 on March 14.

If I Had a Ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The band Yes was both a commercial AND critical success, so it made no sense to exclude them from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Last year, I specifically complained about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame failing to even nominate Yes, Chicago, Moody Blues, and Todd Rundgren. Then, this year, the former two are on the roster.
yes.fragile
Last year, two of my picks, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, actually got in.

The nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016:

“To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2016 nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1990.”

The Cars – worthy
Chic – what I wrote last year when I voted for them, still holds: “its sound still relevant, though if Nile Rodgers got in as a non-performer (songwriter/producer), I could accept that.”
*Chicago – those first two albums were great, and some of their later stuff was decent. They’ve gotten nicked for being too “commercial”, I suspect.
Cheap Trick – probably worthy
Deep Purple – when they got nominated a couple of years back, I admit not knowing them beyond their hits

Janet Jackson – possibly one of the most worthy. Yet, because she’s relatively young, I think she’ll get in eventually, if not this year.
The J.B.’s – James Brown’s backup group, and they should get in in THAT category, not here.
Chaka Khan – for both her music with Rufus and her solo stuff. And we share the same birth month.
Los Lobos – a friend said they are “such a watershed group” long before they “crossed over” to the Anglo market
Steve Miller – definitely worthy

Nine Inch Nails – sure, they’re influential and nominated last year.
N.W.A – also nominated last year, and with the Straight Out of Compton movie, this may well be the year they get in
The Smiths – likewise nominated last year, surely would vote for them down the road
*The Spinners – Motown did NOT know what to do with them, and they didn’t really click until they moved to Atlantic. I LOVE the Spinners. Nominated last year.

*Yes – The problem with the R&R HOF, as Chuck Miller noted, “is that so many deserving ‘rock’ artists were left behind in favor of inducting whoever [Rolling Stone magazine founder] Jann Wenner felt was more deserving.” Some of this had to do with the sense that “commercial is bad,” overcome somewhat by the induction of Hall & Oates last year.
But Yes was both a commercial AND critical success that, unless all of “progressive rock” was being punished, it made no sense to exclude them. Now that long-time bassist Chris Squire has died, it’s well past time for the group’s inclusion. I’d go as far as to suggest his passing affected their nomination, and I hope, their inclusion.

So, in part because of ageism, I’m going with Chicago, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, The Spinners, and Yes. Especially YES. If I had a sixth vote, it’d probably be Steve Miller.

Which five artists would YOU vote for?
***
Harry Nilsson has been eligible almost as long as the Hall has been open, but he’s never even been nominated.