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.

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.

Kennedy Center Honors: Lear, Estefan, Richie…

The Kennedy Center Honors, which took place on Sunday, December 3, will be aired on CBS-TV on Tuesday, December 26 from 9-11 p.m., EST.

Carmen de Lavallade
When the announcement of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors were first announced, I was afraid it might not take place at all. When Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter called [Norman] Lear a few months ago to tell him about his selection, “Lear said he’d be thrilled to have it (at last!)”

But the television pioneer “just couldn’t abide the idea of standing in the White House shaking Trump’s hand. Days after the Kennedy Center announced this year’s honorees, Lear told reporters that he would boycott parts of the event.”

As it turned out, on August 19, 2017, “the White House announced that the President of the United States and the First Lady will not participate in 2017 Kennedy Center Honors activities.” The KCH reps were “grateful for this gesture.”

Norman Lear is the honoree I’m most familiar with. He was the creator and producer of several successful and groundbreaking TV sitcoms in the 1970s including All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, all of which I watched for most or all of their runs. And, at 95 he’s STILL working, putting out a new version of One Day at a Time, this iteration with a Hispanic cast.

I did not recognize the name Carmen de Lavallade, but I am quite familiar with two of her cohorts. She “is a multifaceted dancer, choreographer, actor, and teacher… De Lavallade brought [the late] Alvin Ailey to the studio for his first ballet class, which began a long career of collaboration between the two dance world giants.” Her late husband Geoffrey Holder “would choreograph works for [her], including her signature solo Come Sunday.” Here’s a recent profile of her on CBS Sunday Morning.

Lionel Richie has been a massively successful singer-songwriter, first with the group The Commodores (Easy, Brick House, Three Times a Lady) then as a solo artist (Truly, All Night Long, Hello). His duet with Diana Ross, Endless Love, spent nine weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts in 1981. He wrote Lady for Kenny Rogers, which reached #1 in 1980, and co-wrote the benefit single We Are the World in 1985. Richie was a staple on MTV in its early days.

In 2018, my wife and I will be seeing the musical On Your Feet at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady about the lives of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio. Their group, the Miami Sound Machine, was big in Latin America but took a bit longer to break into the US market. When the band recording more in English, they started charting with won radio DJs over, and had massive success with songs like Conga!, Anything for You, 1–2–3, and Bad Boy. Theirs is a story of Cuban immigrants who “brought a Latin-infused sound to the American mainstream.”

I was a little surprised to see LL Cool J on the list. It’s not that he hasn’t been enormously successful as a hip hop artist that has crossed over to the mainstream with songs like Around the Way Girl, Hey Lover, Doin It, Luv U Better and Control Myself. It’s that his name doesn’t usually pop up on the list of the best or most influential hip-hop artists. Still, he has segued that musical success into a thriving acting career. He currently appears on NCIS: Los Angeles, which I must admit I’ve never seen.

The Kennedy Center Honors, which took place on Sunday, December 3, will be aired on CBS-TV on Tuesday, December 26 from 9-11 p.m., EST.