The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2024 nominees were announced recently. They are Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Cher, Dave Matthews Band, Eric B. & Rakim, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Jane’s Addiction, Kool & the Gang, Lenny Kravitz, Oasis, Sinéad O’Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Sade & A Tribe Called Quest.
Yes, please don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. I might even agree with you. But I loved visiting Cleveland in 1998 and 2016 to see the exhibits anyway.
For some years, I know precisely which three or four people I would vote for in the fan ballot, for which you can vote until April 26. I vigorously supported underappreciated artists such as Fela Kuti, John Prine, and Warren Zevon when they were recently on the ballot, but they were not inducted.
This year, there was only one sure thing: Cher. Curiously, I don’t have any of her albums, though she does appear on compilations I own. She’s gone from being a background singer for Phil Spector to her days with Sonny Bono to becoming an icon. I watched her shows with and without Bono. Not that it’s particularly relevant here, but she was good in a trio of 1980s movies: Silkwood, Mask, and Moonstruck. Absolutely YES.
I scattered my votes – one can vote for seven instead of five this year – among 11 artists.
Mary J. Blige: I have none of her music. Yet her influence is well-documented. PROBABLY YES.
Mariah Carey – I have her greatest hits album on CD. Still, I didn’t bother voting for her because 1) she’ll get in without my help, and 2) she has a five-octave voice, which she often uses unnecessarily to the music’s detriment. NO
Dave Matthews Band – I don’t own any of the music. A funny thing about me and Dave Mathews: I saw him at the Willie Nelson 90th birthday bash and the Rock Hall induction, and I NEVER recognized him, visually or sonically. MAYBE.
Eric B. & Rakim – I don’t own their music, but I appreciate their contribution. MAYBE.
Foreigner – I have a couple of their LPs and some irritating live CD. MAYBE.
An old Ray Charles song
Peter Frampton – I have Frampton Comes Alive. But my YES vote comes from his brief tenure with Humble Pie, particularly Rockin’ The Filmore, an LP I own. Specifically, I Don’t Need No Doctor was a staple of FM radio in the 1970s.
Jane’s Addiction is a group I don’t own, but again, I recognize their importance, in this case, to alternative rock. MAYBE.
Lenny Kravitz – There are a LOT of artists for which I have one of their albums. I have one Kravitz CD. MAYBE
Oasis – Ditto. MAYBE.
Sinéad O’Connor – I have only her albums, the one with Nothing Compares 2 U, a video that has always gutted me. And it was before she died. But she became a probably YES after I heard the Coverville tribute to her.
Ozzy Osbourne – I wasn’t into Black Sabbath. Ozzy, I know more as a personality on that MTV show. He’ll get in, I’m sure. NO.
Sade – Lovely voice. I own one of her albums. Also, Rebecca Jade will be doing a show of Sade songs plus her own in Philadelphia on my next birthday. MAYBE.
A Tribe Called Quest – They show up on a couple of my compilations, and I love what they do. YES.
So that’s six YES or PROBABLY YES, two NO, seven MAYBE. I’ll admit to a certain bias. In Bernie Taupin’s acceptance speech, he pointedly lifted up articulate women and black people. It was a clear rebuke of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner and his comments about why his then-current book included only white men. The statement got Wenner removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Who would you vote for?
The folks who decide on the new inductees can also select people in the category of Musical Excellence, which “shall be given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music.” Taupin, the lyricist for most of Elton John’s songs, was selected this way.
Besides Kuti, Prine, and Zevon, I’d like to see more of the Wrecking Crew picked, particularly Carol Kaye, who created the bass line for Sonny and Cher’s The Beat Goes On in the studio. They should also pick Glen Campbell, a mighty guitarist, before having success as a singer.
Finally, they need Estelle Axton, the co-founder of STAX Records, in, as I have been nagging about since 2015. As I noted, her brother, Jim Stewart, was inducted in 2002! My late friend Dustbury opined: ” So why is Stewart in the Hall and Axton not? Because Stewart, who couldn’t comprehend contract law, signed all those early Stax masters over to Atlantic, and at the Hall, Ahmet Ertegun sits at the right hand of God. Estelle, had she seen the paperwork, would have figured out the deal from day one.”
Estelle Axton for the ROCK HALL. Estelle Axton for the ROCK HALL. Oh, and Estelle Axton for the ROCK HALL.