COLUMN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
Last week, Rock Music Menu featured the current crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees and their odds of getting inducted with the Class of 2017. Not surprisingly, I received quite a few e-mails bemoaning some readers’ favorite artist who they feel have been slighted by the institution. The list goes on forever to be quite honest, but since just five of the top vote getters of those nominated will get in, here are five notables who have been completely overlooked by the powers that be.
Eligible for 13 years, never nominated.
Having released just two albums, Joy Division were stunted by the suicide of frontman Ian Curtis. The second one, in fact, came out months after his death. The foursome from Manchester in the UK were the progenitors of dark, moody post-punk music later embraced by Radiohead, The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails and, most prominently, U2.
“Ian was the best performer of his generation,” U2 singer Bono once told Joy Division manager Tony Wilson. “I know that and I know I was number two. But now he’s gone I mean to do it, and in a way I want to do it for him.”
Not to overstate his comment nor put words in his mouth, but Bono basically said he wanted to be the performer Ian Curtis was. That is powerful stuff. For the Rock Hall, whose bylaws clearly state that for eligibility, “Inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll,” what more do they need? Unfortunately, they will end up screwing up things royally by eventually getting around to inducting the group as part of New Order, an act who rose from the Joy Division ashes but whose music went in an entirely different direction.
Eligible for 12 years, never nominated
Here is a band that has their own jumbo jet, which the singer pilots, taking them to place like South America where they perform in front of hundreds of thousands of people — a show — have influenced and shaped the sound of every high-profile metal outfit, yet they aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Something here isn’t right.
Iron Maiden have left such an indelible impression on hard rock while proving themselves to be both virtuosic and experimental while retaining a mainstream audience, it’s a crime they have yet to even be nominated.
Eligible for 15 years, never nominated
There have been many, many deaths of musicians over the past year, but when people bring up the staggering number in conversation, three names come up: David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy Kilmister. Two of those are in the Rock Hall. One isn’t.
Now, did Lemmy possess the talent and ability to come up with new musical textures every time out? Of course not. But what he did do was play mean, dirty, nasty rock and roll which has been cited for its importance by artists in and outside of hard rock. What Motörhead did wasn’t pretty, and they did it well.
Tracks like “(We Are) the Road Crew,” “Damage Case” and the ubiquitous “Ace of Spades” define rock and roll. Short, to the point and brimming with authority, Motörhead songs were a constant mix of punk, speed and attitude. Maybe they’ve been ignored because of Lemmy’s unrepentant rebel attitude, but the Sex Pistols are in, so that’s not likely. Most surprising is that there wasn’t an immediate posthumous induction. Don’t be surprised if they are up next year.
Eligible for 23 years, never nominated
When it comes to David Bowie, would his iconic character Ziggy Stardust even exist were it not for Marc Bolan and the act he fronted, T. Rex? It’s highly doubtful. One could argue that the glam rock stylings of the band played a major part in inspiring the hair-metal scene of the 80s, which had dozens of artists the nominating committee will likely never consider for induction, but that’s as much Bolan’s fault as it is David Lee Roth’s that every peroxide blond tried and failed miserably in imitating him.
“Get It On,” “Buick Mackane” and “Life’s a Gas” are stone cold classics. How it’s been nearly a quarter century since T. Rex became eligible and there isn’t a massive outcry and rioting in the streets at the exclusion disregards all logic.
Eligible for 10 years, never nominated
Speaking of hair metal, the Crüe get unfairly pegged as being solely a part of the genre. Yes, the look was the same and hits like “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Without You” epitomize the sexist leanings and paint-by-numbers ballads that were all the rage as the 80s wore on. Yet, Mötley was different. They might have worn more make-up that most girls on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, but nobody wanted to mess with them.
Nikki, Vince, Mick and Tommy took the decadence of the decade to another level with a mind-boggling intake of drugs, alcohol and women. Their autobiography ‘The Dirt’ is the rock and roll manual for the live fast/die young ethos. Somehow, the quartet lived to tell about it, and if their promise sticks, quit the game while ahead with last year’s farewell tour.
Poison, Warrant and Ratt might never get into the Rock Hall, but Mötley Crüe flat out deserves to be there. While their so so-called peers continue to live off cherry pies and roses with thorns, the bad boys from Southern California maintained a relevancy and popularity right up until the end. There’s a reason behind that, and it’s because their talents stretched far beyond being able to apply blush and eyeliner expertly.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his blog at www.delcotimes.com