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.
Jazzman 

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. 
Everlong 

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
Solos 

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.

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.

X is for Estelle Axton

I believe Estelle Axton ought to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Estelle AxtonJim Stewart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Here’s part of his bio:

Jim Stewart and sister Estelle Axton were the co-founders of Memphis-based Stax Records. Stax and Motown were the two most important record labels in America in terms of bringing black music into the mainstream during the Sixties and Seventies.

Stax recorded some of the greatest acts in the history of soul music – Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Booker T. & the MG’s, Carla Thomas, and Eddie Floyd, among them.

If Motown was “the Sound of Young America,” then Stax/Volt was “Soulsville, U.S.A.” Between 1959 and 1975, Stax and its affiliated labels released 300 albums and 800 singles. Among the latter, 167 were bonafide hit singles.

Now here’s part of Estelle Axton’s 2004 obituary:

In late 1958, her younger brother, Jim, appealed for financial help to develop Satellite Records, which he had set up to issue recordings of local Memphis country and rockabilly artists.

Estelle convinced her husband [Everett Axton] that they should remortgage their house and, in February 1959, she joined Satellite as an equal partner, contributing $2,500 – at a time when Everett was earning just $18 a week. She kept her bank job, but took a keen interest in Satellite’s fortunes, enjoying pop music and working with young people.

By 1960, Jim and Estelle had found the Capitol Theatre, in a black Memphis neighbourhood, that they turned into a recording studio. To help defray the rent, she opened a record shop in the foyer, and left the bank to work there. She and Everett remortgaged for another $4,000 to refurbish the cinema…

The studio’s location meant a wealth of aspiring local black talent began dropping in, Estelle’s record shop encouraging them to hang out and play popular songs. “The shop was a workshop for Stax Records,” she explained. “When a record would hit on another label, we would discuss what made it sell.”

Also in 1960, Estelle’s son, saxophonist Charles “Packy” Axton, provided Satellite with its first million-seller when his group, the Mar-Keys, put out their debut single, Last Night. According to Estelle, her brother had not been interested in releasing the record until she pleaded, cried, and swore at him. Then he bet $100 that it would never be a hit. [It was.]

Satellite was forced to change its name after it was discovered that a Los Angeles label already owned the title. Taking the first two letters from Jim and Estelle’s surnames, Stax Records was born…

Over the years, many of Stax’s musicians recalled that it was Estelle who encouraged them, then forced her brother to sign them up. “You didn’t feel any back-off from her, no differentiation that you were black and she was white,” noted Isaac Hayes. “Being in a town where that attitude was plentiful, she just made you feel secure. She was like a mother to us all.”

From Jim and Estelle’s Memphis Music Hall of Fame induction page:

At Stax, Estelle ran the front of the house – the record store – and Jim ran the back – the studio. Many of the label’s stars first came in as her customers – Booker T. Jones, William Bell, and Albert King among many (in the early years, she also employed Steve Cropper). Her store would serve as both a respite from the studio, and perhaps more importantly, as a library and research facility for the songwriters and musicians.

From Wikipedia:

Estelle was the founder of the Memphis Songwriters Association in 1973. The Memphis Songwriters Association was formed in order to foster the education and advancement of local area songwriters. There was a focus on the development of the songwriting craft with the intentions of producing commercially viable songs and improving performance skills.

After her split from Stax, Axton went on to found the Fretone label, which launched Rick Dees’ 1977 novelty smash “Disco Duck.”

Clearly, Estelle Axton was the ears and heart, and soul of STAX in the 1960s, helping move the label from its rockabilly roots to become a soul powerhouse. In spite of Disco Duck, I believe Estelle Axton ought to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

ABC Wednesday – Round 16