- This year’s performer class includes only five artists, down from the six that have been inducted in recent years. Given the backlog of deserving artists, why the reduction?
- Was the number of inductees reduced to shorten the length of the induction ceremony?
- If so, why did you schedule the induction ceremony at Barclays Center the day before a hockey game? The last time the ceremony was at Barclays, you had to cancel the end of show jam session because of the curfew.
- Regarding the inducted members of Deep Purple, can you explain the rationale for how vocalist Rod Evans can be inducted but bassist Nick Simper is not, despite being in the band during the same era (1968-1969) and performing on the same albums?
- We have our theories, but can you explain why Steve Miller has been inducted solo, with no one else from the Steve Miller Band?
- Do bands with a complicated membership history have a disadvantage in getting nominated or inducted?
- Who were the “experts” you used to determine which members of the inducted artists got in?
- The official fan poll effectively ended on October 15th after you instituted limits to protect against volume voters (human or otherwise). Why was the fan poll created with no protective measures in the first place?
- When it was determined that the fan poll had fatal flaws, why wasn’t the poll scrapped in favor of a new, secure poll?
- Why did you create a poll with unlimited voting (that has almost zero impact on the actual results) that takes advantage of fans’ passions for their favorite artists by wasting their time?
- Did the fan poll last year have similar unusual voting activity?
- It has been reported that the Voting Committee was expanded this year. How many new voters were added? How many of the new voters are women? (Of the dozen or so new voters we have seen, none are women.)
- One of the new voters this year is Howard Stern Show producer Gary Dell’Abate (aka Baba Booey). What are the qualifications for becoming an official voter?
- Speaking of women, of the 25 people inducted in the Class of 2016, zero are women. Do you feel the Rock Hall has a gender diversity problem? If so, how do you plan to address it?
- Some of the members of the Nominating Committee have recently complained that the Voting Committee isn’t knowledgable enough about the broad history of rock and roll, and ignores the clear wishes of the Nominating Committee (Chic is example #1). Are there plans to change the composition of the electorate (most of whom are Rock Hall inductees) that would be more in line with the Nominating Committee’s views of rock and roll?
- Speaking of voters, how many of the over 800 ballots were actually returned this year?
- Who counted the votes and will you release the voting totals?
- Official ballots were due from voters on December 15th, but it seems clear that the inductees were determined and notified prior to the voting deadline. Given the reported low return rate of ballots, how could you be sure late ballots wouldn’t change the results?
- Only inductees in the “performer” category were revealed. When will inductees in the other categories be announced?
- The induction ceremony locations were previously going to be on three year cycles between New York, Cleveland and Los Angeles. This year was to be an L.A. year. Why was the L.A. ceremony scrapped? Are there currently plans to return to L.A.?
If you have additional questions about the Rock Hall process that go beyond the usual “why isn’t [my favorite artist] in the Rock Hall?”, leave them in the comments.
Notorious KISS antagonist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member Dave Marsh, recently gave an interview to L.A. Radio Sessions, in which he revealed many of his frustrations with the induction process. A portion of the interview was posted on YouTube. Here is our transcript, lightly edited for clarity:
LA Radio Sessions: Let’s talk a little about the procedure, because people forget from year to year. I hear all these wide accusations that it’s all a Rolling Stone magazine Hall of Fame and this and that.
Dave Marsh: I’ve been on the Nominating Committee for more than 20 years and Jann wouldn’t have me in the magazine if I had a gun to his head. And I probably wouldn’t be in the magazine if you had a gun to my head! There are a couple of people from Rolling Stone, as there should be, in every version of the Committee, which did change shape and get a little smaller this year.
LA Radio Sessions: Can we talk about that at all?
Dave Marsh: There was a perception that it was too big and we were spending a lot of time just naming names and then voting on them and not having enough of a discussion. And the whole process… it’s actually... this is one of those moments where it’s unfair to a given individual who everybody, or almost everybody, slams all the time, because it was his perception. But that’s not anybody’s business outside of the Committee, so I can’t talk about it. I think that’s a broad enough hint. [Ed. Note: he is surely talking about Jann Wenner]
Whether you want to go out to dinner with somebody or not is irrelevant if they perceive something and help you make it better. And this is a slightly different approach and I think it’s a much better ballot than the last couple of years. Last year had a very good result off a relatively weak ballot, I think. This year, it’s much more difficult for the voters to make a mistake. And before we go any farther, let me say this, ok? This is… this is a hard thing to say, because I have a real commitment to this institution. And I think it was a wise and important thing to create it. But. The fact of the matter is, it is the only hall of fame in the world that convenes a group of experts to make its ballot and then gives the voting over to people who know less than a smidgen as much as the people who are in that room. It’s an insipid process. It really is.
That’s not the first time a Nominating Committee member has criticized the choices of the Voters, the majority of whom are Hall of Famers. Marsh seems to think that this year’s ballot is deep enough that no matter who the voters choose, it will be a solid induction class.
Dave Marsh: The first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame classes, the first couple years, there were 10, 15 people that got in… What were you going to do, say “yes” to Chuck Berry and “no” to Buddy Holly? But it’s not like there isn’t still the wealth of… some of the people are more obscure and some of the people are more controversial... and keeping the tent as big as it needs to be is a continuing problem. But in the end, doing it five people a year is just completely frustrating. And it takes something that could be really, really great. And because they pay for the event with the TV show, I guess, I’ve never been able to figure it out on any other basis, that tail wags that dog every year.
This is a startlingly frank admission from a member of the Nominating Committee, acknowledging the influence the Rock Hall’s television partners (currently HBO) have over the process.
Dave Marsh: It’s kind of heartbreaking because… one of the things that happens is simple. People die. Darlene [Love] could have died without getting in the Hall of Fame. This has been such a holocaustal year for great musicians dying, that’s really foremost in my mind. Everybody is getting older. It’s not just those early British invasion bands who have turned 70, hell, the early British invasion bands are worrying about 80! It’s a few years off, but it’s going to happen. If you were born in ‘38 or ‘39 it’s gonna happen. Sam Moore will be 80 this year. So you’re going to start losing people that you shouldn’t lose without honoring them while they’re alive. And the longer you wait, the fewer people who actually remember how great something was.
And I’ll just use, because they’re on the ballot, and because it’s been an ongoing conversation, and because it’s the strangest area where the Hall of Fame’s inductees are weak… is hard rock bands. And the notion that Deep Purple [Ed. Note: keyboardist Jon Lord died in 2012], who are a great band by any definition of rock and roll. They made record after record. I know I took them for granted for way too long. And there’s a bunch of people like that, whether it’s somebody whose style is pretty much forgotten and discarded, like Marc Bolan, who is not on the ballot, and to the best of my knowledge has never been on the ballot, but who was the spirit of rock and roll. I would say in historical terms, one of the luckiest things that ever happened to David Bowie was Marc Bolan’s car crash. I don’t mean that to say anything mean about David exactly, but Marc was just something extraordinarily special. And when you’ve got a process that won’t even let you get around to that fact, because there are other even bigger problems that have to be addressed... It’s frustrating. Not because anybody wants it to be frustrating.
Then you got the whole problem… this is something for which radio needs to be taken to task, and particularly the genuinely evil Lee Abrams period. This continuing confusion about what the relationship between white rock and black rock ought to be, or is. And make no mistake, you have to talk about it like that, they have the same root. And they travelled at some points, and the paths have diverged quite extremely, and then again they always come back together. The musicians always know what the connection is. You never have any trouble explaining that to a musician, or at least not a musician who is worth talking to. So these are the all the limits within which that ballot got created.
I say this partly because I’m tired of pretending a whole bunch of things… it’s the Cream magazine person in me that wants to say, hey, there’s right, there’s wrong. Yes, we will never agree with anything the way we all agreed on Elvis. Yes, the same thing should be true of James Brown, and it never will be. And that we need to reckon with. We also need to reckon with the fact that people think they know the history of rock and roll, and I will tell you right now, 750 people are going to get this ballot, there are not 750 people in the world, on the surface of the earth, who can adequately comprehend what has happened since 1955. It’s just simply, you know… God knows, if you stick me in with a bunch of electronic acts, or those brit-pop things from the Duran Duran period, or there’s all kinds of nooks and crannies or sometimes rivers, that missed me.
LA Radio Sessions: Right, of course. Missed all of us.
Dave Marsh: I remember talking to Jon Landau, who is one of the original rock critics who is still alive that I’m closest to, and him saying to me at a certain point, “You know, it’s all going to be different now.” And we were up to about 1966 or 1967. And I thought about it as a person who didn’t much care for what came out of San Francisco, give or take Sly and Creedence. And yeah, it’s going to be different, we’re not going to agree the way we used to. And that’s what he was thinking about too. So when we talk, yes I’m on the Nominating Committee, no, I’m not a person who agrees with everything the Nominating Committee does, or with all the ways in which it’s compelled to do its job, but at the same time, I’m very proud to be part of it. And the institution, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is not a bad idea, it’s a very good one. Because somebody needs to do this. And we need always to be criticizing ourselves and each other and having people outside the process doing the same thing.
The only thing I can add to that is that I believe this to such a point that after about six months I realized that I should have been been supporting KISS getting into the Hall of Fame all along, for the simple reason that now all those idiots have to shut the f**k up about it. [laughter] I went, “Oh, really? This all dies down? I should have voted for them!”
It’s always fascinating when Nominating Committee members speak on the record about the induction process. It is nice to hear that they can be as frustrated with the system as their critics, but it also seems clear that any major changes will have to come from the top.
To get a sense of how real fans vote (this is the 10th year of our poll!), let’s look at some vote distributions from various internet polls where you can cast a ballot for multiple artists (all results as of 10/14/2015).
First, the Future Rock Legends poll (5100 total votes, must vote for five artists):
Next, the Cleveland.com poll (7277 total votes, can vote for up to eight artists):
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Poll (4920 total votes, can vote for up to six artists):
And finally, the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Fan Poll (over 158 million total “votes,” can vote for up to five artists):
Rock Hall Museum President Greg Harris was touting last year’s record 59 million votes in the fan poll, which took two months. This year, they shattered that record in less than 48 hours, but examining the results, it’s not hard to wonder if there aren’t non-human hands at work. The Rock Hall failed once again to publish any rules about the poll, just urging people to “vote often.” Unfortunately, the one poll that is the easiest to game is the one that counts.
One of the reasons this is so outrageous is that there are a lot of real fans of the nominated artists who are spending a lot of time voting and urging others to vote. But they can’t compete with scripts that can cast one million votes per hour.
The Rock Hall needs to remove this poll, scrap the results, and replace it with one that is fair and secure. The first two years of the fan poll, the Rock Hall enlisted online poll professionals PollDaddy to host the poll. Beginning last year, they took the poll into their own hands which has led to nothing but erratic results (last year, Nine Inch Nails received 22% of the vote; this year, just 0.3%, which is strange to say the least).
Let’s also not forget that the lack of rules with the fan poll is symptomatic of the induction process in general. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the only major award that doesn’t use an independent accounting firm to tally the results from their voters.
On Friday, June 19th, Ed Christman from Billboard broke the story that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has let go many long-serving members of its Nominating Committee. So, what do we know so far?
Q: How many people from the Nominating Committee were let go?
A: The Billboard article’s headline says “at least 16 nominating members” were dismissed, but in the article, it is framed more as speculation from sources that “as many as 16 of the 42” members are gone. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chuck Yarborough spoke to an ousted member who says the letter from Jon Landau stated the Rock Hall intended “to reduce the size of the committee by a third” to allow for “more flexibility in terms of discussion.” Reducing the Committee by a third would bring it down to about 28 members.
Q: Who was let go?
A: Billboard lists four names: “veteran A&R executive Joe McEwen, a blues and R&B expert; Greg Geller, a label executive specializing in reissues; Arthur Levy, a senior writer at a number of major record labels; and Bob Merlis, one of the industry's most renowned publicists who is now independent but was at Warner Bros. Records from the early 1970s through the 1990s.” Former L.A. Times critic Bob Hilburn confirmed on Twitter that he was dismissed as well. (Roger Friedman reports that Joe Levy was also let go, but it seems possible he mixed him up with Arthur Levy.)
Q: Who is still on the Committee?
There are a lot of question marks here, but Billboard confirms that Landau, Questlove, Cliff Burnstein and Seymour Stein are still involved. It’s probably safe to assume that Museum president Greg Harris is still in. Robbie Robertson, Rick Krim, Paul Shaffer and Rob Light are all deeply involved in the Induction Ceremonies each year. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say. Hopefully more names will be confirmed soon. Here is a full list of Nominating Committee members over the last 30 years.
Q: Why did the Rock Hall target the experts on the Early Rock and R&B Influencers subcommittee?
A: Billboard frames a lot of their story around the idea that the Rock Hall “wiped out more than half of the Hall's Early Rock and R&B Influencers subcommittee.” It’s true that four of the seven members on that committee were let go, but that leaves at least 10 other members who were potentially on other subcommittees that are now gone too. As of five years ago, there were three subcommittees: one on progressive rock and heavy metal; one on hip-hop; and one on early rock and rollers and rhythm & blues.
Q: So what does this mean for future ballots? Will early rock and R&B influencers be ignored?
A: Anymore than they already are? At this point it’s impossible to say. McEwen, Geller, Levy and Merlis aren’t the only people well versed in those eras. All of them had been serving on the Nominating Committee for over 24 years. If their recommendations hadn’t been fully reflected on the ballot by now, perhaps it’s time for others to have a chance to sway the overall Committee. We have evidence in recent years that new members are more effective in getting artists onto the ballot.
Q: Does this have anything to do with artists inducted as “Early Influences”?
A: Not directly. Those artists are chosen by a separate committee. The Rock Hall hasn’t named a true “Early Influence” inductee since 2000. The three since then (Wanda Jackson, Freddie King and the “5’ Royales) were all artists who had been previously nominated on the Performer ballot.
Q: Why did the Rock Hall let go of those specific people?
A: Billboard: “But some Hall of Fame watchers worry that this latest move by Landau and Jann Wenner -- widely seen as the dominating figures in the Hall -- is meant to reduce the focus on the pioneers so that going forward the Hall can focus on artists who came to the fore in the 1980s and soon the 1990s, who might still have more cache with mainstream music fans and HBO, which broadcasts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's show.”
Yarborough: “Is this really a move to get younger meat in the seats, or rather, younger rockphiles through the turnstiles, so to speak? Well, I believe it is, just by the evidence in our own back yard. . . What scares me is that it seems the history of rock 'n' roll is going to take a huge hit in exchange for pandering – yes, I said pandering – to the younger masses.”
Roger Friedman believes Jann Wenner may move the eligibility date for artists down to 20 years: “Replacing nominators with younger people who have no attachment or feel for rock origins, and moving up the eligibility means Wenner can continue to skip over acts he doesn’t like and move on to more recent stars.” More Friedman: “There’s also a theory that Wenner will now try to force in groups like Journey or Kansas so that the HBO show turns into 80s nostalgia.” (C’mon Roger, Jann Wenner forcing in Journey and Kansas? Are you insane?)
Before removing his tweets, Rob Tannenbaum speculated that the Nominating Committee cuts were potentially in retaliation for members speaking to him for his recent Rock Hall story.
Some less conspiratorial theories: Maybe these Nominating Committee members didn’t participate or couldn’t make it to the meetings. Maybe they pushed the same names year after year. Maybe they aren’t familiar with some of the more recently eligible artists.
Is any of this true? At this point, we just don’t know. Perhaps Jon Landau will speak to Billboard as he promised on Friday.
Q: Billboard, Yarborough and Friedman all paint this move as a negative for the Rock Hall. But is it really a bad thing to shuffle the deck once per decade?
A: We have long been advocates of term limits for Nominating Committee members. Each person brings their own expertise and experience to the table, but after 10 years, it’s probably time to change the dynamic in the room. Hopefully Landau and Wenner invite new people to the meeting and don’t just try to lock it down to existing members. Ideally, this would create a ballot full of previously overlooked artists who had never had a chance to be inducted before.
Q: Sound great, but will this really change anything?
A: After the 2006 inductions, the Nominating Committee went from a bloated 72 members down to 31. So how did this affect the 2007 ballot? The biggest change was the number of nominees, which dropped to nine, down from sixteen.* But of the nine nominees in 2007, six had been nominated the previous year. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
So, when the nominees get announced in October, don’t expect a ballot full of Def Leppards, Weird Als and Grandfunk Railroads. Any changes will be gradual and cautious, just like they have always been.
* - It would be interesting if the ballot contracts to only nine or ten names again to basically force the Voting Committee to induct who the Nominating Committee wants (*cough* Chic *cough*).
Mark Andes (bass) and Dennis Carmassi (drums) were members of Heart from 1982 through 1993, during the band’s renaissance period when they had a string of hit singles. When the Rock Hall inducted Heart last year, they chose to only recognize the original 1970s lineup, so Andes and Carmassi were not inducted.
Andes and Carmassi claim that although Heart's most public members, Ann and Nancy Wilson, asked the [Rock Hall] foundation to correct its mistake and include the two members in the 2013 induction, it refused without giving a reason. The Hall of Fame, however, proceeded to use images and videos of Andes and Carmassi and the songs they performed to promote Heart’s induction, the pair says.The 2013 Rock Hall inductees were announced on December 11, 2012, however, the Rock Hall never publicly announced which band members were being inducted until they updated their website approximately four months later.
When their fans around the world congratulated the two after seeing their images and songs used by the Hall of Fame, Andes and Carmassi say they were humiliated by having to inform their fans and peers that they were inexplicably not chosen for induction.
The pair is not asking the Hall of Fame to induct them but is suing it for portraying them in a false light, misappropriating their name and likeness, and for defamation.
“Defendants knowingly and maliciously communicated to the public by implication that plaintiffs were not valuable members of the band Heart when it failed to induct them, but concomitantly used plaintiffs' images and song performances to promote the band's nomination and induction,” the complaint said.
Andes and Carmassi say they wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame in January 2013, asking why they were excluded and pointed out that its biography for Heart extensively references Heart's success in the 1980s, including its four Grammy nominations, to which they contributed heavily.The Rock Hall has not yet responded publicly to the charges contained in the lawsuit.
The Hall of Fame's CEO [Joel Peresman] responded the following day, defending the decision and ignoring the fact that the Hall of Fame was using the band's success with Andes and Carmassi, the artists say.
The pair has also brought additional counts of injurious falsehood and equitable relief.
The duo is seeking compensatory damages for all losses, treble damages on all trademark claims, punitive damages and exemplary damages.
The issue of which band members get inducted into the Hall of Fame has been an ongoing source of controversy for the institution. The 2014 inductions cast a bright light on the issue when the Rock Hall decided that only the original members of Kiss were being honored, which led to the band opting not to perform at the ceremony. In response to the 2014 controversy, Joel Peresman told USA Today that the Rock Hall will change when they announce which members are being included.
"Going forward, we'll be more clear-cut from the beginning and more public about who's being inducted," Peresman says. "(The next time) we announce the nominees, we'll make sure to say, 'Here are the people being nominated.' “
This week it was revealed that Mark Andes is involved in another high profile lawsuit. Andes and the benefactors of Randy California are suing Led Zeppelin for plagiarizing “Stairway to Heaven” from the Spirit song “Taurus.”
The lawyer for Mark Andes in both cases is Francis Malofiy of Francis Alexander LLC.
Rock Hall Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman emerged the shadowy back rooms of the Hall of Fame today to defend the selection process for which band lineups actually get inducted. Peresman spoke to Billboard primarily about the controversy surrounding the induction of just the original lineup of Kiss.
Peresman says that the decision about who to induct from any band is made by the Rock Hall's nominating committee as well as an adjunct group of "scholars and historians" familiar with specific inductees and genres. "This isn't chemistry or physics; it's not an exact science," Peresman acknowledges. "Sometimes there's an entire body of work up until (the artists) are inducted, other times it's a specific period of time that established the band as who they are.”When there are multiple variations of a band, the vast majority of the time the Rock Hall will only induct lineups from eras they deem significant enough for induction. Recent examples of this are Kiss, Nirvana, Public Enemy, Heart, Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. All of those groups had current or former band members who didn’t get inducted with the rest of the group.
Examples of bands where most, if not all, of the past and current band members got inducted is much shorter: Red Hot Chili Peppers*, Metallica** and Paul Stanley’s favorite example, the Grateful Dead.
Peresman went on to talk about the decision to only induct the original lineup:
”With Kiss there wasn't one person here who didn't agree that the reason Kiss was nominated and is being inducted was because of what was established in the 70s with Ace (Frehley), with Peter (Criss), with Paul and Gene (Simmons). That's what put them on that map.”
Peresman adds that Kiss "is a unique situation where you have artists who wear makeup as part of what the band's about," but the Rock Hall felt that the later members -- including current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, who are wearing Frehley and Criss' makeup, respectively -- "are fine musicians who...basically have the same makeup and are the same characters that Ace and Peter started. It's not like they created these other characters with different makeup and playing different songs. They took the persona of characters that were created by Ace and Peter."
Paul Stanley from Kiss doesn’t accept that explanation. He correctly points out there have been many inconsistencies in the induction “rules.”
Nevertheless, Stanley says Kiss feels that honoring the other six musicians who have played in the band is "a very valid argument considering that there are people who played on multi-platinum albums and played for millions of people and were very important for the continuation of the band. And clearly when you've got a busload of Grateful Dead (members) who have been inducted and guys in the Chili Peppers who nobody knows who they are because they played on the very earliest albums are inducted...The list goes on and on of the inconsistencies. Now, I'm not pointing fingers at any of those people, but I'm certainly pointing a finger at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The only consistencies are inconsistencies and the rules clearly are there are no rules because the criteria for how and who gets in is purely based upon a personal like or dislike. And when I feel we're being treated unfairly, I have issues with that.”Stanley also directly responded to Peresman’s comments on the official Kiss website:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to attempt to restore its questionable credibility and glimpses behind the facade with nonsense and half truths.The Grateful Dead induction was 20 years ago, well before Peresman’s tenure at the Rock Hall, so that example is less relevant than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was on his watch in 2012.
The truth is Joel Peresman and the rest of the decision makers refused to consider the induction of ANY former KISS members and specifically the late Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick who were both in the band through multi platinum albums and worldwide tours and DIDN'T wear makeup.
There is no getting around the reality that the Hall of Fame's favoritism and preferential treatment towards artists they like goes as far as ASKING the Grateful Dead how many members THEY wanted the hall to induct and following their directive while also including a songwriter who was never in the actual band.
Let's just accept the truth as it is and move on.
If the Rock Hall had used the strict “significant era” methodology for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (as they are with Nirvana and Kiss this year), they likely would have only inducted Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak, John Frusciante and Chad Smith. Early drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez probably wouldn’t have been inducted nor would current guitarist (and youngest Hall of Famer) Josh Klinghoffer.
It’s hard to justify special treatment given to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the light of the all of the examples of smaller lineup inductions. The Chili Peppers first few albums are not more significant than Nirvana’s first album. The Chili Peppers most recent album is not more significant than Dio-era Sabbath or even Chinese Democracy. This is the precedent that Joel Peresman has established which will continue to anger future Hall of Fame bands as well (Pearl Jam will be an interesting one to watch in three years).
Unfortunately, Peresman didn’t address the recent news that Chad Channing was not being inducted with Nirvana or why Channing had to receive the news via second hand text message four months after the inductees were announced. Peresman also didn’t offer any details about the fast-approaching Induction Ceremony except for, "We have other artists, other inductees showing up and performing when they can.” In related news, there are 3400 tickets available for the ceremony on StubHub, with prices starting below face value.
* - It should be noted that the Rock Hall did not include guitarists Jack Sherman and Dave Navarro, who was with the band for five years during their superstar years.
** - Bassist Robert Trujillo had been with Metallica for five years and one album when he was inducted in 2009. It is also worth noting that Nominating Committee member Cliff Burnstein manages both RHCP and Metallica, so it is possible he may have had a direct hand in selecting which members were honored.
Chad Channing, the band’s former drummer who played on Bleach, had been led to believe that he was being inducted with the band as well. Unfortunately that is not the case. Channing passed along to Radio.com this text message that the Rock Hall sent to Nirvana’s management today :
Can you tell whoever looks after Chad Channing that he isn’t being inducted… It is just Dave, Krist and Kurt.
So how did we get here, where four months after the inductees were announced, that a text message from the Rock Hall is the only confirmation of which band members from Nirvana are actually being inducted?
Ever since Nirvana was nominated in October, there has been speculation as to which members might be honored. Both Chad Channing and Pat Smear appeared on important Nirvana albums so it would not have been a surprise if they were included, especially given the record of previous inductions (see the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a recent comparable example).
So why is the Rock Hall intentionally withholding that information?
Tom Lane relayed a story from former Nominating Committee member Jeff Tamarkin, where in 1994 the Grateful Dead told the Hall of Fame that “all or none” would be inducted, so the Rock Hall gave in and put in all 12 members. Knowing that the Rock Hall has been flexible on this issue, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons tried to negotiate getting additional Kiss members in this year by using their induction ceremony performance as leverage. The Rock Hall has thus far called their bluff and is moving ahead without a performance by the band, and disappointing fans in the process.
By drawing a hard line with Kiss, there is now a bright spotlight on the Rock Hall’s process for choosing which members get inducted. As with most controversial issues with the Rock Hall, they would be more respected if they were open, straightforward and consistent with their rules. Right now, as we have seen with Chad Channing, it’s the opposite of all of those things.
Exclusive: Former Nirvana Drummer Chad Channing will be Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Future Rock Legends has learned that ex-Nirvana drummer, Chad Channing, will be inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th. Channing will be included with Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl and the late Kurt Cobain.
Channing was in Nirvana for two years surrounding the release of their debut album Bleach, but was replaced by Grohl during the recordings of Nevermind.
Chad Channing says he will be in Brooklyn for the Induction Ceremony, but has no plans to perform.
There is often controversy over which band members actually get their names on the Hall of Fame wall in Cleveland. The Rock Hall makes the decision, but doesn’t have any stated criteria for how they make the rulings or have any consistency from band to band or year to year. Look no further than fellow-2014 inductees Kiss to find bitterness and hard feelings over the decision.*
One could infer from their recent decisions that the Rock Hall tends to honor only the band members who were involved in (what they consider to be) significant recordings, although there are exceptions to that vague criteria as well.**
* - Only the original four members of Kiss are being inducted. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons decided not to perform at the Induction Ceremony because of the Rock Hall’s decision to exclude additional current and former members of Kiss.
** - Just last year, John Rutsey, who like Chad Channing, only played on a debut album, was NOT inducted with Rush.
The fact that the Rock Hall had left that requirement on their website for so long (and repeated it often) just shows their general indifference to the rules of induction, which ends up generating a lot of skepticism about the process. The Rock Hall doesn’t use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes like most major award organizations do (the Grammys), and never makes the voting results public (like the Baseball Hall of Fame does).
A: We don’t know yet. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used to announce the number of inductees with the nominations press release. Last year they didn’t announce a number and there ended up being six performer inductees.
Q: Doesn’t the Rock Hall have any rules for induction?
A: Yes and no. For years now, this is what the Rock Hall claims is the criteria for induction (emphasis ours):
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.
The Foundation’s nominating committee selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 600 artists, historians and members of the music industry. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
Seems clear enough, right? The only problem is that the 50% criteria cannot be possibly be enforced when you predetermine the number of inductees.
Q: Why is that?
A: For example, there were 12 nominees for the 2010 inductions and they decided ahead of time there would be five inductees. Mathematically, it’s possible for none of the nominees to receive greater than 50% of the vote. So how can you have a rule requiring a certain percentage of the vote when you’re going to induct exactly five anyway? The 50% rule was meaningless then, and is likely meaningless now.
Q: Why is the rule meaningless now? They haven’t predetermined the number of inductees this year.
A: Take a look at our mock poll, which mimics the Rock Hall’s ballot process. Currently only three artists are polling above 50%. In a year as diverse as this, where there are only a couple of overwhelming favorites to be inducted, it’s very likely there will only be a few artists who appear on the majority of ballots, if any.
Q: So, if no artist gets over 50% of the vote, will the Rock Hall just cancel the induction ceremony?
A: Of course they won’t. HBO has a show to put on. That’s why the 50% rule is completely meaningless and should be removed from their website.
Q: If the only rule the Rock Hall has for induction is meaningless, then what rules do they follow?
A: Um… At this point, the best answer is that there are no rules.
Q: Why did they stop predetermining the number of inductees? That seemed like a reasonable rule if you ignored the 50% requirement.
A: Now that there are no rules to pretend to adhere to, the Rock Hall and HBO can induct as many or as few artists as they want to so they have an acceptable broadcast. For example, if the top five vote-getters turn out to be Procol Harum, Albert King, Donna Summer, The Marvelettes and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, would HBO be happy about an event where so many of the inductees were dead or unknown to a huge part of their audience? And let’s say Rush or N.W.A came in sixth. Isn’t it an easy decision to just go ahead and induct six or seven artists for the benefit of the TV show? Having no rules gives the Rock Hall a lot of flexibility.
Q: Who gets to vote anyway?
A: All 423 living Hall of Famers get a ballot. It’s unknown who the rest of the Voting Committee is, with the exception of a few nice people who go public with their ballots.
Q: But the fans get to vote this year!
A: Indeed they do, but it’s mostly a symbolic gesture from the Rock Hall. The top five vote-getters from the official online poll will be recorded on just one of the 600+ ballots and added to the total.
Q: Are the ballots cast anonymously? Who counts the votes?
A: The ballots are not anonymous. Joel Peresman, the Rock Hall President & CEO, admitted in an interview that they look to see who certain artists voted for, which could influence future nominations. As for who counts the votes, we’re assuming it’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation itself. Most award shows use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes to avoid accusations of impropriety.
Q: How many of the 600+ ballots actually get filled out and returned?
A: We don’t know, but would love to find out. We would also like to know the average number of artists voted for on each ballot. You can vote for a maximum of five, but some people vote for fewer than that. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Rock Hall has never released any voting statistics.
Q: Didn’t voters used to have to rank their votes in order of preference?
A: Indeed they did, but it was never known why. The Rock Hall dropped that requirement a few years ago.
Q: When will the inductees be announced?
A: Last year, ballots were due December 5th and the inductees were announced on December 7th. As you can see above, this year’s ballots are due December 3rd, so the inductees should be announced shortly thereafter.
Let us know if there are any questions that we missed, and we’ll try to answer them.
We were inspired to delve into this further after reading this recent tweet:on this subject previously, and 4% seemed awfully low, so we went ahead and counted up all of the inductees (including every inducted member of groups).
|Induction Category||# of Hall of Famers||# of Women||% Women|
|Sideman / Musical Excellence||19||0||0%|
Some additional data points:
- Of the 186 performers inducted, 31 include at least one woman (16.7%).
- There are 98 duos and groups that have been inducted in the performer category, accounting for 494 of the inductees. Of these, there are 36 women from 19 groups.
- Of the 88 individuals inducted in the performer category, there are 12 women (13.6%).
- There are no women in the “Clyde McPhatter Club” -- Hall of Famers inducted multiple times.
- In 1986, 1992, 2001, 2003 and 2004, no women were inducted.
It’s difficult to find a similar institution to compare to the Rock Hall. (For example, the Baseball Hall of Fame only has one woman inductee!) Another music industry benchmark might be the Grammy Awards. Their marquee award, Album of the Year, has included a woman 31% of the time (17 out of 54). This issue isn’t exclusive to music. In the U.S., only 5% of the art on display at museums is made by women.
After all of the “Women Who Rock” publicity last year, many of us thought that might inspire a more female-centric 2012 induction ballot. When the finalists were announced, five of the fifteen were women, a relatively high percentage by Rock Hall standards. But after the voting, and when it was all said and done, out of the 69 trophies handed out at the Induction Ceremony in Cleveland this year, just two went to women.
* - We haven’t been able to fully document all of the inducted members of Early Influence groups. This may be where the discrepancy lies between our total number of inductees. The Rock Hall lists 681 and we counted 685. The percentages of women remain largely unaffected either way.
Let’s take a close look at what Rose wrote and what he might be trying to say between the lines.
To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,
When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N' Roses were to be inducted it'd be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.
Since then we've listened to fans, talked with members of the board of the Hall Of Fame, communicated with and read various public comments and jabs from former members of Guns N' Roses, had discussions with the president of the Hall Of Fame, read various press (some legit, some contrived) and read other artists' comments weighing in publicly on Guns and the Hall with their thoughts.
Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out. Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.
Axl has a BIG problem with the fact that the Rock Hall decided, apparently without his input, which members of Guns N’ Roses got inducted. The Rock Hall chose to induct the original five members, plus Matt Sorum and Dizzy Reed. With the exception of Reed, none of those guys are still with the band, and Axl appears to feel his current lineup should be included as well. And why shouldn’t he? All he had to do was look at fellow 2012 inductees, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to see that new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is somehow getting inducted after just three years as an official member of the band (under the Trujillo precedent). Axl has worked with a bunch of different people since the mid-nineties, but there are members of the current GNR that he has worked with for over a decade now. The Rock Hall has recently been taking a much more inclusive stance with inductees, so why shouldn’t they be inducted? Oddly enough, the Rock Hall may have been waffling on this issue. They hadn’t publicly released the inducted members list, and only updated the Guns N’ Roses bio on their website this week to make it official. They could have changed their mind without having to backtrack.
Axl may have also had a problem negotiating the performance aspect of the induction ceremony. Don’t forget that when Van Halen was inducted in 2007, the negotiations about the song selection caused David Lee Roth to stay home. Rock Hall president Joel Peresman said this about the incident,“"We made every effort and the decision not to come was solely his, not ours."”Hmm… Expect a similar statement from the Rock Hall about Axl Rose to surface soon.
For the record, I would not begrudge anyone from Guns their accomplishments or recognition for such. Neither I or anyone in my camp has made any requests or demands of the Hall Of Fame. It's their show not mine.
Axl makes it clear here that he wasn’t trying to keep Slash or anyone out of the Hall of Fame.
That said, I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of "Guns N' Roses”.
Boom. There have been plenty of artists over the years who haven’t shown up to the Induction Ceremony (most infamously, the Sex Pistols), but this is the first time an artist has actually declined the induction. It appears that the Rock Hall is going to ignore Rose’s request and induct him anyway. The glass has already been etched on the Hall of Fame wall in the museum.
This decision is personal. This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario all the way around.
In regard to a reunion of any kind of either the Appetite or Illusion lineups, I've publicly made myself more than clear. Nothing's changed.
Yup, Axl really does hate Slash.
The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of "for the fans" or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba.
Again, sticking up for his current band.
Izzy came out with us a few times back in '06 and I invited him to join us at our LA Forum show last year. Steven was at our show at the Hard Rock, later in '06 in Las Vegas, where I invited him to our after-party and was rewarded with his subsequent interviews filled with reunion lies. Lesson learned. Duff joined us in 2010 and again in '11 along with his band, Loaded, opening in Seattle and Vancouver. For me, with the exception of Izzy or Duff joining us on stage if they were so inclined somewhere in the future for a song or two, that's enough.
There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.
Is Axl waiting for an apology? Do Slash and Steven Adler even know what they would be apologizing for at this point?
Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.
So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.
No, fans aren’t owed anything. But it’s easy to see a giant missed opportunity and wish it were different.
But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.
”It’s not me, it’s you.”
In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.
I wish the Hall a great show, congratulations to all the other artists being inducted and to our fans we look forward to seeing you on tour!!
P.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III
Guns N’ Roses fans were indeed hoping for a reunion, even it was extremely unlikely. Even the original five were never going to perform together at the ceremony, it would have been cool to at least see them on stage together to accept their award. Clearly, Axl Rose didn’t see it that way. Hey, it’s his legacy, he can do what he wants with it.
So, how will the Rock Hall handle the sticky situation of a GNR induction now? We know that Green Day will be doing the induction speech, but what about a performance? We don’t see Green Day covering GNR like they did for the Ramones. Our theory is that now that Axl is out of the way, Slash, Duff and Steven Adler can perform with Kid Rock on vocals. (Supposedly, Kid Rock and Axl are on the outs, so maybe Kid Rock won’t mind pissing off his old friend.) What else is Kid Rock going to do at the ceremony if he’s not doing some GNR songs? We’ll all find out on Saturday night.
In addition to Josh Klinghoffer, the other Red Hot Chili Peppers being inducted are: current members Anthony Kiedis, Flea (Michael Balzary) and Chad Smith; former guitarists John Frusciante and Hillel Slovak; and former drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez.
Notably absent are former members Dave Navarro and Jack Sherman, each of whom were the featured guitarist on one album.
Although it may seem premature to induct Klinghoffer with the band after having only appeared on one album, it’s quite possible he could be with the band for years to come. In that case, it would be unfortunate if he was not included with the band in the Hall of Fame. It’s probably better for the Rock Hall to err on the side of inducting more people rather than few, although you do risk having extraneous Hall of Famers if things don’t work out. For example, what if the Rock Hall had inducted Van Halen during the brief Gary Cherone era? In hindsight that would have been a bit embarrassing. (No one has ever been kicked out of the Rock Hall.)
For some unknown reason, the Rock Hall continues to treat these decisions as classified information. They still haven’t publicly released which members are being inducted for Guns N’ Roses (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff, Adler, Sorum and Reed), RHCP and the Small/Faces (Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones, Rod Stewart and Ron Wood). And don’t expect to hear why Dave Navarro wasn’t inducted with the band, even though he spent five years with the band and appeared on a hit album with three hit singles. How much of that decision was the Rock Hall’s, and how much was the band’s? We’ll probably never know. Someone from the Rock Hall should stand up and defend these borderline decisions.
Uber-Springsteen fan Gary Dell’abate brings up the fact that the E Street Band isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce. Van Zandt doesn’t personally feel snubbed, but he feels Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg and the rest of the band deserve to be honored. What Van Zandt fails to mention in the interview is the fact that he is one of the key people responsible for making those Hall of Fame selections! Not only is Van Zandt on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, who come up with the ballot each year, he is also one of eight members on the sub-committee which selects the Musical Excellence Award winners each year, the category in which the E Street Band would likely qualify. All of that goes unmentioned by Van Zandt as he tried to defend Howard’s claim that the Hall of Fame is a joke. Van Zandt only said he was a supporter of the Rock Hall.
Listen to the rest of the Rock Hall talk in the next section.
I used to think about the administration of the Rock Hall as people with good intentions that at times just didn’t seem to get it and they would always seem to come up with an excuse for a mistake or failure but “we are going to make it better.”
Now I look at the Rock Hall as an organization that treats its membership as cattle.
Okay Rock Hall, I’m going to give you some free advice. This is how you take care of your membership. This is how you grow. No matter what the event you have, offer the tickets to your membership first. If it sells out before it gets to the general public, oh well. Wow so simple!!!! Also make it that tickets are available in chronological order based on how long you have had your membership. Again so simple!!! If I lost out on something to the people who have been members for 15, 20, 25 years how could I be pissed off at them, they have been supporting the hall for years. They should get the first crack. Again a simple solution that would work. It goes back to my original question “Don’t get it or don’t care”, which one is it?
On December 19th, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President & CEO, Joel Peresman, sat down with outspoken Rock Hall critic Eddie Trunk for a long radio interview. Here are some (paraphrased) revelations from the chat:
- Joel Peresman is not a member of either the Nominating Committee nor the Voting Committee. When Trunk repeatedly asked about famous Rock Hall snubs Rush, Kiss, and Deep Purple, Peresman agreed they should be in, but there was nothing he could do about it.
- Peresman’s involvement in the induction process is limited to administering the process and counting the votes. He claims he has no power to change the members of the Nominating Committee or change the induction process. Peresman implied the process is controlled exclusively by the Nominating Committee chairman (and Bruce Springsteen’s manager), Jon Landau. Peresman also downplayed Jann Wenner’s role in the process.
- Even if Peresman did have the ability to change the process, he wouldn’t do much. The only changes he mentioned were potentially expanding the 600+ member Voting Committee to include more young voters. When pressed about giving the fans a vote, he thought that was a possibility, but the fan preferences would only be a small part of the voting tally, similar to the Heisman Trophy system, where fans get one vote out of 926. Peresman said there was no way the fans would be able effect the nominating process. Peresman also brushed off the suggestion of term limits for the Nominating Committee members, or the possibility of releasing vote totals.
- Eddie Trunk continually pressed Peresman about the process, asking if there are so many obvious artists who should be inducted, or at least nominated, isn’t that a symptom of a broken system? Peresman admitted there are many deserving artists, but he feels the system is basically fine.
- Eddie Trunk asked Peresman about a rumor that he had heard directly from a Nominating Committee member, that as a condition of a Kiss induction, the band demanded some sort of financial compensation. Peresman flatly denied the rumor. Kiss was nominated in 2010, but did not get inducted.
- Peresman said the reason they don’t make the Nominating Committee members public, is because the members don’t to be hassled by fans. Peresman doesn’t have a problem with members acknowledging they are on the committee if they choose. (Of course, we have listed all of the members on our website now for years.)
- VH1 honcho, and Nominating Committee member, Rick Krim, called into the show to discuss the process. Krim acknowledged that this year was his third on the committee, and that he has pushed for Rush each year. He also has lobbied for Chicago, Yes, and Heart.
- Krim admitted he was unaware of how the nominating process worked the first year he joined. He also claims he had never heard of Wanda Jackson when her name came up at the meeting, but was quickly convinced she was deserving of induction. Jackson was inducted in 2009, and Krim was not listed as being on the Committee that year. (As Tom Lane mentioned on Twitter, “Shouldn't a Rock Hall NomCom member know about all genres of music, from the early days of Rock (and pre-Rock) to today's music? I say yes.” )
- Joel Peresman discussed that an artist’s influence on other artists was the primary criteria for the Rock Hall. He admitted to studying the returned ballots from the Voting Committee to see who past inductees voted for. He used the example of looking at Bono’s ballot to see who was important to him. He implied this could influence who gets nominated again.
- A caller asked Peresman about why the Small Faces and Faces were nominated together when they were two different bands with distinct sounds. Peresman admitted that individually they probably wouldn’t have been nominated, but it “made sense” to put them together on the ballot. (Sorry, Mr. Peresman, but that makes NO sense.)
- Eddie Trunk asked about the status of a potential Guns N’ Roses reunion at the induction ceremony. Peresman said he had heard from representatives of all five original members that they would be there. Slash later issued a denial on Twitter, “For the record, I didn't RSVP, or in any way commit to attending the RRHF. I don't appreciate people putting words in my mouth.”
Why Freddie King's Induction as an Early Influence Makes a Mockery of the Entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Process
Freddie King was one of the 15 performer nominees for the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class. His name was on the ballot right between Joan Jett and Laura Nyro. His name was occupying one of the spaces on that ballot that dozens of other artists have been trying to be a part of for so many years and have been left out. You don’t think Deep Purple fans might have liked to see their name on the ballot there? They’ve never been nominated. Johnny Burnette & the Rock N Roll Trio? Nope. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Judas Priest. We could go on. The complaining wouldn’t be so loud if these artists ever even had a chance.
So why would the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee waste a space on the ballot for an artist who was going to be inducted as an Early Influence anyway? (More on that in a second.) What does that say to the Voting Committee members who used one of their five precious votes on someone who was already in? Are you kidding? Don’t you think most voters would have liked to use that vote somewhere else? We bet War, the Spinners or Donna Summer would have liked those extra votes.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Rock Hall did the exact same thing three years ago with Wanda Jackson.
The reason the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is so maddening to some of us is not because of who is in and who is out (that’s an entirely different discussion). It’s that the Rock Hall doesn’t even respect a defined process for induction. What other institution makes things up on the fly the way the Rock Hall does? Maybe the People’s Choice awards? Say what you want about the snubs of the Baseball or Football Halls of Fame (or even the Oscars), but you can’t say they don’t follow a set criteria and rules for induction.
Since 2005, the Rock Hall has honored five performer inductees every year. Since voters could choose up to five artists on their ballot, there was a logical symmetry between the ballot and the number of inductees. But this year, even though voters could still choose only five names, the Rock Hall decides to induct six artists. Why? Was it because one of the inductees is deceased (Laura Nyro)? No, they only inducted five in 2006 when Miles Davis was posthumously honored. So why are they inducting six this year? It feels like the system is being manipulated for some unstated reasons. The Rock Hall is certainly at liberty to change the rules, but does it need to be in the middle of the game?
And then there’s the issue of inducting Freddie King as an “Early Influence” -- an issue that came up the last time this happened with Wanda Jackson. The Rock Hall’s definition of the category from their website: “Artists whose music predated rock and roll but had an impact on the evolution of rock and roll and inspired rock’s leading artists.” The key part of that definition is that the music “predates rock and roll.” The rest of the definition applies to all Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Both Freddie King and Wanda Jackson’s important works did not predate rock and roll by any definition. Wanda Jackson was a contemporary of Elvis. Freddie King had most of his hits in the ’60s. So, again, has the criteria changed?
And while we’re discussing the ballot, why were the Small Faces and the Faces nominated together? Yes, they overlapped band members, but so have many other bands over the years. We joked about this on Twitter when the nominations came out, but are we going to see joint Rage Against the Machine / Audioslave nominations? Pearl Jam / Mother Love Bone? Should Guns N’ Roses have waited to be nominated with Velvet Revolver? These are ridiculous examples, but the Small Faces / Faces has now set a precedent for this kind of thing. Bizarre. (Maybe the Baseball Hall of Fame will combine the stats of all of the Molina brothers and put them in the Hall of Fame together.)
Look, when you call yourself a “Hall of Fame,” that means something. It should be something for artists to aspire to achieve. It should deserve respect from fans. But you can’t continue to erode people’s confidence in the institution by bending the rules and looking the other way when there are obvious conflicts of interest without causing damage to your institution. Take a longer view of things. The Hall of Fame should become even more important as music becomes less of a communal experience.
We’re already looking at artists eligible for the 2037 induction ceremony. Will anyone still care?
**The Chili Peppers were also nominated two years ago (prior to Burnstein’s involvement with the Rock Hall) and are clearly strong Hall of Fame candidates, and it’s unknown if Burnstein was directly involved in getting the band on the ballot this year.
This is not a new problem for the Rock Hall Foundation, and they likely don’t see it as an issue. They have been facing accusations of bias since the Rock Hall’s birth and have never taken any steps to remove that perception.
If the Rock Hall wants to get serious about improving its perception with the public, we have some suggestions to improve the induction process:
- Term limits for Nominating Committee members (5-7 years). The prospect of new voices on the Committee would give hope for neglected artists.
- Allow the Nominating Committee members to speak about the process publicly.
- Publish rules for the nominating process and include something to address conflicts of interest.
- Make the list of Voting Committee members public.
- Hire an independent accounting firm to handle the vote counting like every other reputable awards show does.
- Publish complete voting statistics. We understand you don’t want to hurt artists’ feelings, but they will survive. It should be an honor just to be in the discussion for the Hall of Fame.
- Find a way to engage the fans. There are lots of ways to do this, but a simple way would be to create a fan vote for the last ballot position from four choices you provide. We don’t want the Rock Hall to turn into the Hard Rock Café anymore than you do.
- Stop being so secretive. You should have publicized the fact that Cliff Burnstein is now on the Nominating Committee. Be proud of who you are and what you are creating.
The new idea is to change the charter so that it only takes 20 years to get in. That would move up a lot of acts on the ballot that are more current and carry some name value, which would be good for TV rights. Believe it or not, the following would then be eligible for the 2011 ceremony: Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Kid Rock and Smashing Pumpkins. Also a possibility right away: Keith Richards as a solo artist.
If the Rock Hall chooses to change the rules next year, it could potentially create the best ballot the voters have seen in many years. It would also make it much more challenging for often-nominated-but-never-inducted artists such as Chic and Joe Tex to get in.
Friedman correctly reported months ago that David Geffen would be inducted this year as a Non-Performer, so clearly Friedman has sources close to the Rock Hall's power players. In this report, Friedman's sources say that Wenner is only "considering" this rule change, so it's certainly not a done deal. It seems to us that the decision may not be finalized until this summer just before the Nominating Committee meets to determine the 2011 ballot. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we'll be preparing to update our database of eligibility dates...
Regarding the voting issue, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the story:
In another curious subplot, Jackson is being inducted as an early influence, although she was nominated as a performer on the ballot.
When Jackson didn't receive enough votes to get in as a performer, she was singled out for induction by a committee that handpicks early-influence honorees, said Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Sidemen inductees are selected by a separate committee.
So, presumably if Jackson had received the votes to be inducted as a "Performer," she would have been gone in under that tag. Then they would have either appointed some other early influential artist or simply not use that category this year (which isn't uncommon). As commenter Philip pointed out in the comments, other artists have been nominated as performers and later inducted in other categories (Carole King as a "Non-Performer"; King Curtis as a "Sideman"), but never has it happened in the same year. If Wanda Jackson was going to be inducted whether she won or lost the vote, then why bother taking up that valuable spot on the ballot with her name?
As to whether or not Wanda Jackson belongs in the "Early Influence" category at all, let's look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's description of that award.
Artists whose music predated rock and roll but had an impact on the evolution of rock and roll and inspired rock’s leading artists.Rock and roll's origins can be traced to the years just prior to the time when Jackson's career began in 1954. Wanda Jackson got her start nearly the same time Elvis Presley did, so it is strange that she is considered an "early influence" under the Rock Hall's own definition.
Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its annual list of inductees. The news was followed by the annual list of grievances and complaints about those choices in the music business. This year, however, the opposition included a particularly high-profile and vitriolic voice, Courtney Love's.Well, Michael Stipe has been inducted into the "idiotic" Hall of Fame, and he's Love's daughter's godfather, so that's at least one Hall of Famer that she knows.
. . .
Some in the music industry were upset that punk-rock and female acts were not represented in the winners' circle, but Ms. Love had her own ax to grind. Evidently not a fan of the New York Dolls, Black Sabbath or Lou Reed [nominees who weren't inducted that year], she lambasted the Hall of Fame in a telegram: ''How dare you fools not put Lynyrd Skynyrd, Patti Smith, or AC/DC in your Hall of Fame. Damn you to the darkest belly of the underworld. Stop.''
She goes on to demand that the items belonging to herself and her husband, Kurt Cobain, that are in the possession of the Hall of Fame's museum in Cleveland be returned: ''Any of my stuff you stole, I want back immediately. Stop. This includes any of mine or Kurt's clothes, guitars, or debris that you scavenged for. Stop. I hope that no one I know is ever inducted into your idiotic 'Hall of Fame.' ''
One wonders what will happen in 2011, when Nirvana, Cobain's old group, will most likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Ms. Love concludes her telegram: ''You are a sham and you deserve Bush. Stop. He probably has the same taste in music as you.''
An employee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said the sentiments expressed in the telegram captured the true spirit of rock 'n' roll.
So much for Punk, Prog and Psych: with today’s announcement of nominees for the 2008 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it becomes clear we’ve reached a tipping point from which a permanent downhill slide in quality seems all but inevitable.Bob Lefsetz also feels the temperature rising:
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I think there needs to be a better balance and greater deliberation put into the nomination process. Maybe lengthen the eligibility period to 30, 35 or 40 years instead of 25. Even better, why not have a two-category approach to induction whereby one set of nominees is drawn from the 25-year-criteria pool and a second set drawn from a 40-year pool of so-called Pioneers, thereby ensuring that deserving elders receive a more equitable consideration.
I wasn't even going to bother commenting about this. After the induction of Blondie and Patti Smith and the exclusion of the performance of David Lee Roth. But what's fascinating to me is the BLOWBACK! All over the Net, people aren't debating which of the nominees should get in, but who was LEFT OUT!
Donna Summer didn't go rock until '79, however much we love her, she belongs in the DISCO Hall Of Fame. Where Nile Rodgers and Chic should be enshrined also. Hell, want to honor Nile's production work with the B-52's, bringing them back from the dead, I'm all for it. But if it weren't for Ms. Summer and Chic would there have BEEN that bonfire at Comiskey Park?
And the Beastie Boys... Well, rap is a bit closer to rock than disco, but who's a bigger innovator... The Beasties or Alice Cooper?
I could go on and on about the unjust exclusions, but what's fascinating to me is the cabal which runs this rapidly sinking organization/ship/museum seems to have NO CLUE how they're fucking it up/eviscerating all its credibility.
If there are no more rockers to be inducted, DON'T!
[E]nough is enough. After the announcement late Friday of the nominees’ ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there’s only thing to do: Hit publisher Wenner, who controls the Rock Hall, where it hurts.Friedman then recounts the Dave Clark Five controversy from the 2007 Inductions, and reports that because of that mess they are now "guaranteed entry" in 2008.
If you love Rock and Roll, stop buying Rolling Stone until the tremendous insults of the Hall of Fame are corrected.
Wenner’s nominating committee consists largely of his current and former employees from Rolling Stone (Nathan Brackett, David Fricke, Jim Henke, Joe Levy, Brian Keizer, Toure, and Anthony DeCurtis). But they have little say over who really is inducted.
Friedman breaks out his laundry list of artists who have been snubbed, ignored, or forgotten by the Rock Hall, any of whom he feels are more deserving than this year's nominees.
Of the new crop, I don’t have much to say that’s positive. Madonna is a steamroller because of the cult of personality. She’s not a rocker, she has a thin voice and she doesn’t write her own material. But she’s a force of nature.Roger Friedman gives voice to a large group of rock fans who aren't ready to move on to the next generation of Hall of Famers before honoring those who came before them, and also are weary of the Rock Hall's continued expansion of the definition of "rock and roll."
There’s no stopping Madonna when she wants something. Chances are good she won’t bring Steve Bray, Patrick Leonard, William Orbit and all her writers and producers to the stage. They are Madonna.
Chic is a fun idea with great songs, but it was really producer-writer Nile Rodgers and his partner Bernard Summers who made it work as a dance group. Rodgers should be in as a hugely successful producer of music by David Bowie, Ross and others. Summers can be thanked. Chic, however, is not rock.
The rest are totally off base given the above list. Summer was a disco act. For her to get in before Ronstadt is a joke. Mellencamp at least plays rock. But he’s a minor note in the genre’s history.
Afrika Bambaataa and the Beastie Boys: Are they kidding? Even the latter must be laughing. They had one big hit, "You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party." The former, while I’m sure quite lovely, is a record-scratcher with a great name. Each of these belongs in a Rap Hall of Fame.
Update: Before Roger Friedman calls for a boycott of Rolling Stone, he might want to make sure his website doesn't accept advertising from them (see below).
In 1987, Rolling Stone devoted a special issue to the "100 Best Albums" of the past twenty years. Critics were polled; results were tabulated. At the top of the list was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Second was Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, an album which sold less than one tenth as many copies as Sgt. Pepper.Sound familiar?
The results angered Jann. Though he had never actually listened to more than a few minutes of the Sex Pistols' record, he could not fathom its lofty rank in the poll. Besides, he demanded, "where's Loggins and Messina on this poll? Where's Hotel California?"
When the magazine ran its "100 Best Singles" special issue a year later, the editor took matters into his own hands. He ordered music editor David Wild to put singles by his friends Billy Joel and Foreigner's Mick Jones on the list. Then Jann personally manipulated the tabulations, a puppetmaster jerking his subjects up and down the list. Thus did the deathless classics "Uptown Girl" (by Joel) and "I Want to Know What Love Is" (by Foreigner) receive the respective designations of 99 and 54, while Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" -- originally given the 6 rank -- languished at 73.