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Rock Hall nods missed the boat, but that’s the nature of the beast: Chuck Yarborough

October 12, 2018

Rock Hall nods missed the boat, but that’s the nature of the beast: Chuck Yarborough

CLEVELAND, Ohio – After this year’s Class of 2019 hopefuls were announced, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee member – and nominee, just FYI – Tom Morello took to Twitter to shed a little light on the subject:

.@tmorello: “I go in there every year yelling about Judas Priest now, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains.” #RockHall2019

He needs to yell louder. We’ll get to why in just a bit. But let’s start with this:

After the Rock Hall announced this year’s ballot – Stevie Nicks, Roxy Music, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, Devo, LL Cool J, MC5, Def Leppard, the Cure, Radiohead, Morello’s Rage Against the Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren and the Zombies – I wrote that producer/performer/icon Rundgren and Fleetwood Mac Nicks are the only two names on the list of 15 nominees that I consider “no-brainers.”

My thought at the time was that Rundgren, whose control-room credits alone should have seen him in the Hall in 1995 -- his first year of eligibility –is the only nominee who should be a no-brainer.

Me to myself: “Stevie Nicks as a solo artist? What the &)#*?”

When I learned that the throaty Fleetwood Mac vocalist was the first woman who was better known as a member of a band to be nominated as a solo artist – there are 22 men in the Hall who are former band members, including all four Beatles – I tipped my tinfoil cap to Morello and his committee pals. But I thought there were other, better, possibilities.

Listen to the music of the nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

This is why relying on your memory – and I’ve been around long enough remember when Nicks JOINED Fleetwood Mac – or gut isn’t always the best thing to do.

After researching, I “discovered” (i.e. remembered) Nicks has had eight solo albums that sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The first, 1981′s “Bella Donna,” went quadruple platinum, meaning sales of 4 million or more. The next three, “The Wild Heart” (1983), “Rock a Little” (1985) and “The Other Side of the Mirror” (1989) also went platinum or more.

So commercially, Nicks’ track record warrants a solo nomination. Still, I believe Tina Turner is far more deserving of the honor of being the first female former band member/inductee. She has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, has 11 total Grammy Awards (including three for lifetime achievements). Only one of those Grammys came with former husband Ike Turner.

Nicks’ record sales were based on her connection to Fleetwood Mac. Pretty sure the taglines for those solo albums all mentioned her membership in the band, anyway.

But Turner’s success came from her own desire to move away from her ex. His well-documented abuse of her, physical and emotional, made her accomplishments that much greater, so solo induction would have had even greater meaning in this #metoo era. Ergo, Morello and his fellow committee members missed a great chance at relevance. Not to mention an opportunity to do what’s right.

Fortunately, there’s still time. The inductions often include one or more inductees as Ahmet Ertegun Award winners for lifetime achievement. If she is not on the Barclays Center stage on Friday, March 29, there’s something seriously wrong with this picture.

And now we return to Morello and the tweet that brought us here, and acknowledging that the lack of Turner’s solo induction is not the lone sin of omission:

As the Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist pointed out, the committee missed out on Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, NIN, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains in their annual gathering in New York City to debate who should be nominated.

Truthfully, I’m not so sure about Nine Inch Nails or Alice in Chains, although there are cases to be made for both. If this were my high school debate team, I could take either side and I think argue just as convincingly. But there is no doubt that Priest, Iron Maiden and the group founded by the late Chris Cornell (Morello’s former Audioslave bandmate) should at LEAST have been nominated.

Of those, I’m most disturbed and/or confused by the absence of Judas Priest. The band finished No. 5 in the Rock Hall’s own fan balloting last year. How are Rob Halford and his team NOT back on the list this year?

In a lot of ways, it seems to be a slap in the face of the fans who voted last year. “Thanks for playing. Here’s your participation trophy.” Either the fans mean something or they don’t.

I’m not a major metal fan. Neither am I a major hip-hop fan, nor a glam or funk fan. I am, however, a history buff. And as such, I can testify to the contributions – and thereby the importance – of Priest.

It’s not really possible to argue with any degree of conviction that the rest of the artists and bands on the ballot don’t deserve to be there. But they don’t deserve it any more than Judas Priest.

That doesn’t even begin to tackle the issue of the perennially overlooked – and Hall-worthy – bands, including Jethro Tull; Grand Funk; Dick Dale; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Warren Zevon; and the Pixies.

The problem with any Hall of Fame is that you can’t induct everyone, and you especially can’t induct everyone at one time. The best you can do is make some of the people happy some of the time, to borrow from the old saying.

So this is my best advice: Yeah, they screwed up leaving out so-and-so, and including such-and-such. But if the current climate of political debate has taught me anything (and admittedly, that’s not much), it’s that I need to focus on the positive. Ergo . . .

Thank heavens Todd Rundgren is finally getting in!

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