Monday, 6 October 2008

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 3: Artists with exactly two previous ballot appearances

This third part of the study of the backlog of the Rock and Roll Hall of fame will cover artists who have been on exactly two previous ballots without being successfully inducted.

Before I look at the four serious candidates fitting this qualification, I will note four artists who would be in this or my previous post but have so little chance they should be looked at separately:
1) Johnny Ace
2) Esther Phillips
3) Mary Wells
and 4) Chuck Willis.

All of these were eligible when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded in 1985/1986 except Mary Wells who became eligible in 1986/1987. The last ballot appearance by any of them was in 1990/1991, which suggests that those in charge of the Rock Hall (who have not changed since then) do not consider these four to have the qualifications for induction.

The four other artists who have had exactly two previous ballot appearances (including this year) are:

1) The “5” Royales: Also eligible since the Rock Hall was founded, the "5" Royales are viewed as a major influence on famous soul singers like James Brown.

They were nominated for the ballot in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004, which does give some possibility that the Nominating Committee does not believe they could ever gain enough votes from record companies for induction (and they never got higher than #67 on Billboard's Singles Chart).

Still, with an aging Nominating Committee unlikely to consider any but the most obvious newly eligible artists or reconsider rejected ones eligible for a long time, doo-wop acts seem likely to be prominent until the core of the rap revolution is eligible. Though the "5" Royales were not strictly a doo-wop act, they have been associated thereby by music historians.

2) The J. Geils Band A popular artist in the early 1980s so that I can recall their "Centrefold" played all the time on TTFM's "Saturday Night Party" in the 1990s, they were first eligible as early as 1995/1996 but got on the ballot in 2005/2006 and again in 2006/2007.

Apart from "Centrefold" and "Freeze Frame", classic rock radio does not play them and critics have tended to ignore the claims of their music, which is very much the type of rock and roll the Nominating Committee grew up with.

It may be this facet of a Nominating Committee that is very much part of the Boom Generation that has made the J. Geils Band serious candidates - rather than artists whom most music fans and critics would consider more deserving. Even artists who had far more hits over the same timespan, like Hall & Oates are often snubbed in favour of groups like J. Geils and black artists of questionable credentials.

Unless Wenner and Landau become too ill to do the job they do now, it's unlikely much younger blood will be added to the Nominating Committee in the subsequent decade. Thus, one should give the J. Geils Band a chance.

3) Lou Reed (solo): Inducted with the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed had a more commercially successful solo career including hits in "Walk on the Wild Side" and in Australia, "Dirty Boulevard".

Though Reed's solo career has often been as acclaimed as his work with the Velvets, recent critics have tended to see it in a less favourable light: according to Joe S. Harrington, Lou Reed "hung in there and trashed the legend".

Reed made the Rock Hall ballot in 2000/2001 and 2001/2002, but seems now to be off the radar for a further nomination so he is the least likely of the four artists mentioned to reach the Hall artists

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