Seymour Stein is a "doo-wop fanatic" -- Should there be term limits for Nominating Committee members?

Longtime Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member, Seymour Stein, described himself in 2001 as a "doo-wop fanatic," who was working hard to get the artists from his youth fully represented in the Hall of Fame.
Stein, an avowed "doo-wop fanatic" who identifies heavily with the music of his youth, feels like there's "quite a bit of catch-up to do." He cites the Hollies, Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty, Gene Pitney, Percy Sledge, Chuck Willis and panoply of doo-wop acts such as the Five Satins ("In the Still of the Night") and the Penguins ("Earth Angel") as acts that should be full-fledged inductees. "I don't want to forget artists from the '50 and '60s, but not at the expense of worthwhile artists from the '70s," he said. "I don't want to sound like George Bush, but I don't want to see anyone left behind. But I really mean it, hence the difference."
Of those eight artists he listed there, Lee, Pitney, and Sledge (one of the most controversial inductions, by the way) have been honored since that interview. And since Stein is still on the Committee, and he doesn't want to leave anyone behind, you can bet he will join Steven Van Zandt in trying to get the Hollies in.

Stein goes on to make a prediction, that is laughable in hindsight:

Stein does not predict that any artist, whether in 2001 or in future years, will ever sail into the hall the first year they are eligible, the way, say, the Beatles did in 1988, or Bruce Springsteen did in 1999. He cited a random selection of artists, from James Taylor to Earth, Wind & Fire to Gene Vincent to Parliament-Funkadelic to Joni Mitchell to the Bee Gees to the Velvet Underground, who waited a few, or many, years for induction.
Presumably Stein felt that no other artists will ever live up to the standard of the Beatles or Springsteen. But his theory about first ballot Hall of Famers was proved wrong the very next year when Tom Petty, Talking Heads and the Ramones were all inducted in their first year of eligibility. In fact there have been 11 first ballot Hall of Famers since Stein made his prediction, Madonna being the most recent example.

Stein and Van Zandt have been rather candid about their biases in favor of the music of their youth. At some point, don't you have to close the book on that chapter in rock and roll history and start recognizing some of the gaping holes in later periods? How many groups from the 50's and 60's still need to be inducted before the award is completely stripped of its prestige?

As a way to keep a fresh perspective on the Rock Hall, perhaps there should be term limits for the Nominating Committee members. There is little doubt that each of the members, past and present, have been qualified to help shape the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But you can imagine what happens when the same group meets year after year: At the committee meeting, the member nominates a few artists, they get tossed around and ultimately get rejected or put on the ballot. The next year, the committee member tries again with the same names that didn't make it, and tries to wear down the other members into submission. A five year term limit would allow committee members ample opportunity to advocate for their favorite artists, but wouldn't let them stay so long that their perspective gets outdated.

So, are term limits a good idea? Is five years the right amount of time? Let's hear it in the comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus