Rock and Roll Hall of Sham

15 07 2009

I’m not one to begrudge another’s success or acclaim.  I think people need to be recognized for the things they do, big and small, that enrich the lives other others.

Yet, I don’t understand how some artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were inducted.  Perhaps it seems harsh to question it, but I think that honor should be extended only to the “best of the best,” if you will.  There are artists in the Hall of Fame who, to me, are real headscratchers.  “How in the hell did he get in?” I’ve found myself asking on a number of occasions.

First, and very generally, I’ve never cared for the induction of R &B and hip hop artists in the hall because, to me, those styles aren’t strictly “rock and roll.”  I get that rock and roll’s roots are in the blues (as well as country and gospel, both white and black), so I can understand how BB King and Muddy Waters were inducted.  I’m just not sure that later acts like the O’Jays, that were strictly R&B or even disco, should be in the hall.  I understand that the R&R Hall of Fame committee members have a broader definition of “rock and roll” than me, but I take issue with that.

Second, I’ve noticed that some marginally successful artists have been inducted.  Take Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, for instance.  I have been unable to find any evidence that the Teenagers ever scored anything higher in than a #6 hit on the Billboard charts.   After that, they only had a handful of top 100 songs.  Apparently, Frankie and the Teenagers were inducted because their sound influenced Berry Gordy and Motown.  Fine, so the Teenagers should have gone into the hall as “early influences,” not as “performers.”  Chubby Checker “inspired” a bunch of people to dance and helped introduce the word “twist” into the title of dozens of pop songs in the 1950s and 1960s.  Surely, therefore, he must be bound for the hall.

While dullards like The Righteous Brothers and rappers like Grand Master Flash clog up space in the hall, Marc Bolan and T. Rex are on the outside looking in (figuratively, of course.)  Marc doesn’t even seem to be able to benefit from having passed on at an early age.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a pretty cool place and a fascinating institution.  I just wish it would make up it mind what it wants to be and whether sustained excellence is a criteria for induction.  Enough with the one hit wonders and jazz artists.  Please.

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