My Choices for the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Just in case you missed it, the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees were announced recently. Here they are {drum roll please}:

Bad Brains, Chaka Khan, Chic, Depeche Mode, Electric Light Orchestra, J. Geils Band, Jane’s Addiction, Janet Jackson, Joan Baez, Joe Tex, Journey, Kraftwerk, MC5, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, The Cars, The Zombies, Tupac Shakur, Yes.

You can vote for up to five of the candidates every single day if you want. Here are my choices (and rationalizations) along with some comments on others:

  1. Yes. I keep lobbying for these guys and maybe this is the year they’ll get in. The Hall seems to be anti progressive rock. But let’s face it, these guys did a lot of great stuff. Easily my favorite prog-rock band and if they do get in, it’s a shame that co-founder Chris Squire passed away before receiving it.
  2. J. Geils Band. If this is a rock and roll hall, let’s put some rockers in there. Geils was one of the great rock/r&b/blues ‘n boogie bands. As a live unit, they are second to very few groups. Peter Wolf still does solo stuff (as does Geils) and shows up all the time around Boston. He recently sang on the encore at Bruce Springsteen’s Boston concert.
  3. Joan Baez. I am not necessarily a big Baez fan per se nor is she rock n’ roll. But boy she’s been right there (debut album 1960) and very successful and influential, musically and politically. Led Zep’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is based on her version. A no-brainer IMHO.
  4. Pearl Jam. A band that would not have been out of place in the Sixties. Half the time they’re playing with guys like Neil Young and Tom Petty. A great band. They deserve it if only for their doomed, quixotic attempt to stick it to the loathsome, odious TicketBastard.
  5. The Cars. Can you stand it? Could there be two (count ’em) Boston bands inducted in one year? Sure, why not sez I. They dominated the airwaves with their style of-punky pop in the 1970’s. And Elliot Easton is a terrific, underrated guitarist whom Slash has cited as an influence.

Who I would choose next time (assuming same candidate list): Chaka Khan, Steppenwolf, The Zombies, Electric Light Orchestra.

For the rest, I understand why they were nominated but have no real strong opinion one way or the other if they should be in the Hall.

Which leads to the interesting question: By what criteria does one choose Hall of Famers? Personal preference? Or that aside, whether you think someone belongs in there based on their impact on music?

My son and I discussed this briefly and we both came to the same conclusion: for candidates about whom you have no strong feeling, ultimately you should be impartial and vote on the act’s impact on music. And, of course, quality.

So I totally get that Tupac was a musical hero to a lot of people. But he didn’t do much for me. I like Jane’s Addiction. But HOF? Not sure. Janet Jackson? Maybe. But I sure liked her brother’s stuff a whole hell of a lot more. What to say about the fact that Kraftwerk were considered innovators of a certain genre and yet the only song I know is “Autobahn.”

If I were a voter faced with these choices, seems to me I’d have to, in some cases, decide based on something other than personal preference. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what I did with Baez. BTW, it would be interesting to see if Joe Tex gets the vote. He is one of those fairly obscure under-the-radar performers that the Hall likes to promote every now and again.

All this begs the question of whether or not the Hall’s process is even really valid. (I think, e.g., both Green Day and Yes are worthy. But why does Green Day get in first while Yes are passed over year after year?)

If you want to read the opinion of an actual voter, check this article out. I found it quite insightful. Regardless of the inequities of voting, I strongly suggest you visit the Hall. My son and I went a couple of years ago and saw it over a two-day period. Worth every penny.




6 thoughts on “My Choices for the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

  1. That’s a varied nomination list. There are three artists/bands I’ve never heard of: Bad Brains, Jane’s Addiction and Tupac Shakur. If I’m missing something special please tell me. Of the rest, two stand out: Yes and Joan Baez. I’ve cast a vote for those two. The others probably all have a reasonable claim to the Hall of Fame and I agree that the J Geils Band are right in the centre of rock & roll, however you define it. I suspect, though, that the nominations say more about the HOF organisation than they do about the artists on the list.


  2. If you go to that linked article at the bottom of my post, you’ll see some good stuff about these bands from an informed voter. But failing that:

    Bad Brains were a Washington DC-based hardcore punk band of the ’70’s. They were unusual in that they were an all-black band that, weirdly, started out as a jazz-fusion band. I have very little familiarity with them and literally only heard of them because Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters talked passionately about them in a documentary he made.

    Jane’s Addiction are an American rock, funk-rock band. Them I know quite a bit better. They may be off your radar but are very well-known here in the States to the point that I hear them on the radio (satellite or FM) at least a couple times a week. I’m personally not a big fan or anything but they have songs like “Jane Says,” and “Been Caught Stealing” that I like a lot .I may do a post on them someday or at the very least, feature a song or two of theirs one way or another. The band’s leader, Perry Farrell, started a very popular music fest called Lollapalooza.

    Tupac was a rapper who was very popular in his day. (He’s pictured, upper left corner.) He was, however, shot to death some years back in one of these stupid “gangsta” wars these guys sometimes get themselves into it. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if he gets in this time or in the future. Same with Jane’s Addiction. Bad Brains strikes me as being entirely too esoteric.

    As to your comment about the nominations saying as much of not more about the nominators as the artists, yes. The Hall is controversial to say the least.


  3. I’m afraid it’s come to the point where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems totally redundant in my eyes. So many of the artists don’t live up to what most people’s idea of rock and roll is. Should we just stop calling it the Rock and Roll HOF and just the ‘Popular Music HOF’? But then doesn’t that just defeat the purpose again? Eh…


  4. Yeah, I can’t say I totally disagree. However, that ship has sailed and so we have a flawed system. A lot of people think that putting a vital, rebellious life force like R&R in a museum is counterintuitive. I think the main thing we get out of it is it’s a cool place to visit, steeped in blues and rock and roll. As lousy a job as they did in the nominating/electing part, they did a fine job on the museum part.


  5. This is an odd one, as a Brit, to see the press get so keyed up about who will and who won’t be and who really should be each year. To many it doesn’t seem to really mean anything especially as it seems that almost anyone who’s shifted enough music gets included, eventually. The selection has always seemed somewhat arbitrary and I can’t, form an outsider point of view, say that whether or not an act has been ‘inducted’ really makes much difference in their perception especially when the criteria for entry seems to simply be the amount of time that’s passed since they first dropped a tune.To me it also seems as they’re looking more at which artists will get people viewing / talking rather than any genuine impact they may have had.


  6. Yes, there’s a real dichotomy at work I think, not only in the minds of the rock press but also we bloggers and those who love music. For one thing, we believe that the nominating/voting process seems somewhat arbitrary. Secondly, as you indicate, does it really matter if someone gets in?

    But I think that thirdly, yes, it really does to the bands and to their fans. I know that bands like E Street, Allmans and, of course, Beatles and Stones are great and have provided me (and millions of others) with much pleasure. And so, it feels like – and should be – a reward for what they’ve accomplished and yes, the impact they’ve had. Especially when you consider that it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll. These artists are, in a sense, being rewarded for somehow making it in an industry with, what, a 98% fail rate all the while making great stuff that is highly influential.

    Plus just speaking for myself, even though I know the whole thing is flawed, that doesn’t stop me from being interested enough to vote, care who gets in, watch it on the tube. One might fairly describe my approach to the HOF as, if not love/hate, at least cynicism/like/moth to the flame. I know well that the whole thing is fucked-up, games are played, etc. Yet I still want Yes to get in.

    As to the criteria for entry, I don’t think it’s just the 25 year threshold. Clearly no one gets in with less than that. But then they gotta be more than a one-hit wonder, yes? But just as clearly there will always be a relatively small subset that get in vs. who get nominated. And unfortunately, that means that some will be ticked when their favorites don’t get in.

    Bottom line is I’m not sure if there’s a fair, equitable way to have a voting system such as this. Especially, to your earlier point, that the definition of rock and roll seems fairly elastic. The nominators have been very anti-disco which pisses some people off. But shouldn’t they be? Maybe there should be an R&B hall of fame for that stuff. Where is the “this is rock and roll” line drawn? And who draws it? NWA got in last time. Influential? Sure. Deserving of something? I guess. Rock and roll? I don’t see it.


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