Sunday, 7 June 2009

A prediction for the 2009/2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot

When I did my first post on the backlog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I said I would ultimately make a prediction for the 2009/2010 ballot.

The fact that no other artist than Run-DMC has been so much as considered by the Nominating Committee should make one very careful about even suggesting a newly eligible artist, especially as there is no major rap group newly eligible in 2009/2010. Even among most backlog artists eligible only since about 1999/2000, there exists grave doubts about the seriousness with which the Nominating Committee views their candidacy.

I predict that the following nine artists will appear on the 2009/2010 ballot, listed in chronological order of eligibility:

- The Chantels: The Hall seems to wish to induct as many doo-wop groups as possible, and the Chantels undoubtedly have the reputation to be the next band in this genre inducted after Little Anthony and the Imperials. The Chantels were nominated for induction in 2001/2002, and I suspect that 2009/2010 may well be the time they get another chance.

- Dick Dale: A left-field candidate for sure. However, people say the Rock Hall will always try for at least one "guitar god" and with Stevie Ray Vaughan not discussed for the 2008/2009 nominations, Dick Dale is the obvious choice despite not having reached a ballot in over twenty years of eligibility (he was first eligible in 1987/1988).

- Joe Tex: Nominated for the ballot three times, most recently in 2005/2006, Joe Tex seems one of the most certain backlog inductees with the known bias towards black artists in the Hall. With Bobby Womack now inducted, it is hard to see Joe Tex waiting much longer for another ballot appearance.

- Randy Newman: If the Nominating Committee feel the Stooges are too unviable for election by record company bosses, Randy Newman might be a viable alternative with his late 1970s success. His satirical songwriting style was much adored by the punk crowd though his music was nothing like punk. Elvis Costello in particular sites Randy Newman as a key influence, and might be an inductor for the second successive year.

- The Meters: Though they lack a signature song as War had, the Meters were probably more significant in the development of funk music and were the house band for (non-Performer) inductee Allen Toussaint, which should give them a strong chance of a second ballot appearance after appearing without success in 1997/1998.

- solo Peter Gabriel: Often spoken of by Rock Hall insiders as one of the likeliest backlog inductees, the paucity of potentially viable new artists seems likely to make 2009/2010 the year when Gabriel finally reaches the ballot seven years after becoming eligible. The fact that Gabriel, like first-ballot inductees The Police, was strongly praised in 1980s Rolling Stone issues gives him a good chance of overcoming critical hostility to commercial music of that decade.

- Chic: Though yet again not inducted, my suspicion that apart from Chic and solo Peter Gabriel none of the "later" backlog artists are taken very seriously by the Nominating Committee makes me feel as though Chic will be tried until enough voters accept them as an inductee - or until the Nominating Committee finds that the number of electors voting them in is declining.

- The Beastie Boys: As a breakthrough artist for rap - and the first white rappers of any significance - it is hard to see a Nominating Committee that knows it will run into voter deadlock with just about any non-rap artist between the "punk revolution" and the late 1980s rap and grunge movements.

- The Red Hot Chili Peppers: As a modern superstar even if many old fans believe they sold out after Mother's Milk, it will be very hard to see the Nominating Committee failing to induct the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Like Metallica, they were a band who became superstars after pioneering a new style with four 1980s albums. The only problem is that their first two albums The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Freaky Styley were recorded with a completely different lineup, never dented the Billboard Top 200, and never became megasellers as Kill'Em'All and Ride the Lightning did after Metallica became superstars in the 1990s.

Bubbling Under:

If the artists listed above fail to make the 2009/2010 ballot, it will probably be because one or more of the following artists made it to the ballot:

- The Five Satins: They have the strength of being the only doo-wop act on the backlog who has never been put to the test of the voting body. The way in which the Nominating Committee has a tendency to take a rigid selection of artists that it views as potential candidates and subject them to a kind of merry-go-round could give the Five Satins a their turn.

- The Hollies: Many members of the nominating Committee are open about adoring the Hollies, and the wait they have had since being first eligible in 1989/1990 does seem excessively long even when one considers the critical attacks that have sometimes been made upon them.

- Yes: Rumours of bias against progressive rock are nothing new to the Rock Hall, but with the heavily prog-influenced Metallica seeking to assert their presence in the Hall, this may have to change. If we see a progressive band on the ballot soon, Yes are the logical and most likely candidate.

- Deep Purple: With the induction of Metallica, Deep Purple undoubtedly remain the biggest eligible heavy metal band not in the Hall. Although the short life of their classic lineup undoubtedly told and tells against them, the influence of "Smoke on the Water" and "Lazy" on so many metal guitarists is, as Joe S. Harrington says, enough to easily see Purple gain a ballot appearance especially in a year with only one remotely likely new candidate. Richie Blackmore may also prove the requisite "guitar god" for 2009/2010.

- T. Rex: Under the radar of the Nominating Committee since becoming eligible in 1992/1993, T. Rex stand as the most respected and commercially successful of the glam rock bands of the early 1970s. The indie rock scene admits T. Rex were a key influence, as do new wave bands the Cars and Devo (both possible though less likely inductees). Moreover, the presence of a recognisable hit single (they had many here in Australia) in the widely-covered "Get It On" could work in their favour. Bolan also formed his own label, anticipating many other musicians in the 1990s and beyond.

- The Stooges: Although I do feel that many in the Nominating Committee now judge that record company executives see their vast influence as destructive and that they were a commercial failure, the immense influence and respect they possess as a godfather to the "punk revolution" makes most within the core of the Nominating Committee strong and longstanding supporters of their induction. The Stooges, if back on the ballot will have three good chances for induction in 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 - after which competition from rap and grunge will intensify considerably.

- Roxy Music: I know I must be careful being a big fan, but their influence and acclaim as one of the 100 Immortals by Rolling Stone makes it likely that they will soon reach a ballot after being eligible since 1997/1998. Over a third of all inductees since 2004/2005 have come from this list, and none are newly eligible in the next three years.

- solo Tina Turner: Like Roxy, listed as one of Rolling Stone's Immortals, and given praise for the sexual and assertive tone of Private Dancer during the 1980s, I would say Tina has a very strong chance for shot at a solo induction to go with that she has achieved as a duo with Ike Turner.

- Donna Summer: The most prominent singer in the disco era, Donna Summer had the "traditional" (essentially pre-grunge Rolling Stone) critical respect that has seemed to be decisive in gaining the Police and U2 first-ballot induction. She missed the ballot in 2008/2009 despite being widely predicted to make it, but Summer remains the best chance of 1970s commercial artists.

- The Sugarhill Gang: With Run-DMC's induction and the complete failure to discuss a single newly eligible non-rap artist during 2008/2009, there is great probability that most subsequent years will see multiple rap artists inducted, despite the opposition of many Rock Hall purists. Since it was the Sugarhill Gang who turned rap into a commercial proposition with "Rapper's Delight", they must potentially have a chance of a ballot place.

- The Replacements: Given their long-established critical favouritism and important role in spreading the "alternative" sound during and after the grunge era, the Replacements have been widely tipped as a likely Rock Hall inductee since before they became eligible in 2006/2007. Although one could argue against the Replacements by noting how Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, the Minutemen and Black Flag have never been discussed by the Nominating Committee, the fact that the Replacements moved with some success (Billboard Top 75) to a major label makes them not (at least not so much) vehemently opposed by the record company executives whose influence creates total deadlock when it comes to inducting 1980s non-rap artists.


Anonymous said...

Insightful but you leave out a few key items:

Steve Miller Band - long overdue.

Heavy Metal - you mentioned Deep Purple but Kiss was absolutely huge in the 70s and with Metallica opening doors they are due (Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are coming soon)

Progressive Rock - the hall definitely hates them but cant ignore them much longer. King Crimson, Genesis and ELP are the front runners here - my pick is going to be Genesis (so you can move Peter Gabriels solo to a future ballot)

Havent seen anyone from the early influences category in a while... with Les Paul passing my pick here is Ella Fitzgerald. The hall has a huge african-american bias and NO ONE influenced female vocalists more than Ella. This would make Nina Simone a shoo-in for future ballots.


jpbenney said...


1) it is hard for me to see how KISS could get in without Deep Purple who were, as Joe S. Harrington said, one of the most important inventors in heavy metal.

2) If you have read my comments on the Rock Hall you will see my reasons why I think it for from improbable that solo Peter Gabriel will be inducted without Genesis. These essential related to critical perception during the 1980s when many of the judges began their activity.

I do agree, however, with your point about Early Influences. You can look here if you want more detail about other possibilities.