The latest of the greatest rock and rollers have officially been welcomed into the open arms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The most recent to join the ranks of rock immortality are as follows:
ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)
Nile Rodgers (with the Award for Music Excellence)
The Rock Hall’s website has a pretty good description of each of the artists, complete with a Spotify playlist and recommendations of signature songs. Guess my work was over before it started. Either way, I’ll provide some of my own input and earbud encouragement where applicable. I have known of most of the new class, and many I have been rooting for over the years to get their well-deserved admission. If you are not familiar with any of the aforementioned inductees for 2017 – and even if you are – check out this year’s video montage:
Like my first and second previous posts about the Rock Hall’s annual induction class, I’ll provide a bit of insight into each act. As has been the case from the beginning of the process, the requirements for inclusion are essentially two simple steps:
1.) It must be at least 25 years since the release of your first album
2.) You must be an influence and a significant contributor to rock and roll music
Okay, so achieving either of these are not simple, especially the latter, but the point is that there is no fine print protocol to get called up onto that stage in Cleveland, Los Angeles, or this past weekend in Brooklyn. You just have to rock hard enough and inspire others to aspire to your oeuvre. This group of people have been recognized for doing just that.
ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) – Truly unique in their bombastic overtures that justify their name, ELO combined the styles of classical music and rock and roll like no one had before or has done since. Comprised of the trio of Bev Bevan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Wood, ELO conducted such classic rock masterpieces as “Evil Woman”, “Livin'” Thing”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t Bring Me Down”.
Joan Baez – This pre-cat surgery Maureen Ponderosa look-alike was a major force in the American folk movement and helped to bring Bob Dylan up to the forefront of the genre he is now synonymous with, not to mention that Joni Mitchell owes her some props too. Really, every folk singer that followed Baez owes a debt of gratitude to her influence. However, her greatest contributions were to the cultural and political causes she gave a lovely voice to, especially the civil rights rallies of Martin Luther King Jr. where she would often perform her rendition of the gospel standard “We Shall Overcome”.
Journey – My favorite of this year’s class of inductees, the San Francisco collection of former bandmates from Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch (yeah, that’s a real band) is one of the greatest bands of the 1980s. Formed in 1973 with some notable hits prior to their peak in the early 80s, Journey was driven by Steve Perry’s legendary voice as much as their combined energy and harmony. The band continues to dominate the airwaves of radio stations, personal playlists, and wedding receptions with the likes of “Any Way You Want It”, Wheel in the Sky”, “Lights”, Lovin’, Touchin’ Squeezin'”, and “Stone in Love”, but there is no other song that can elicit a karaoke performance from anyone at anytime the world over like the greatest song of the 1980s:
Nile Rodgers – A dual-threat performer-producer, Rodgers co-founded Chic with Bernard Edwards and composed the dance anthem “Le Freak”. The duo and eventually Rodgers on his own shifted gears to producing albums for other artists. Rodgers was a major creative force helping perfect the likes of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Madonna’s Like a Virgin, and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories where he played the guitar for “Get Lucky”.
Pearl Jam – Nirvana may be the best band of the grunge movement and the whole of the 1990s, but not far behind them was the next greatest purveyor of the Seattle Sound, Pearl Jam. A shoe-in for inclusion, Eddie Vedder and the boys from the Pacific Northwest rock hard and fast with a varied lyrical assortment of songs, including “Jeremy”, “Even Flow”, “Alive”, “Black”, “Daughter”, Yellow Ledbetter”, and “Last Kiss”. I love all of these, but their best for me will always be “Better Man”.
At last weekend’s induction ceremony, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Arment wore this shirt that listed the names of numerous artists who are not yet in the Rock Hall that he and the band believe should be, and I agree with most of them. Tom Waits is already in, but he probably could go in again for something.
2Pac (Tupac Shakur) – What to say of this poet of the streets? His rocky life experiences and observations of social inequity pertaining to race relations, poverty, gang violence, and so much more provided the tragic muse for his music. The Rock Hall’s biography describes him as an “irresistible contradiction” because of his dual roughness and tenderness toward those around him. Regardless of the final sentiment the world may have for him, there is no denying that his all too short life and career were briefly phenomenal. Listen to the likes of “California Love”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Dear Mama”, and especially “Changes” to hear the truest 2Pac.
Yes – Another overdue inductee, Yes remain as the epitome of progressive rock band. Pink Floyd may have earned more commercial and critical success while pushing the boundaries of experimental music, but nobody, and I mean nobody did it quite like Yes, and they managed to score a number of big hits along the way, especially “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. Throw in “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Long Distance Runaround”, “The Fish”, and “Yours is No Disgrace”, and you’ve got an impressive resume. But all memes aside, their best for me is unquestionably “Roundabout”.
Thanks for reading and listening! I hope you enjoyed the offerings from the latest class of legendary rockers and music contributors. Please peruse their discography beyond the taste I’ve provided here. They made it into the hallowed Hall of Rock for a reason, after all.
Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and roll on back here again next week for a new adventure of words, images, and sounds!
The Cure and The Pixies best get in soon,