By Phill Marder
Fans have waited years for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to show some sign of responding to public wishes (and complaints), but to no avail. Now, we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.
Welcome to our alternative: The Goldmine Hall of Fame. We may not have a museum or a fancy award ceremony, just a small statuette dubbed a “Miner” (which may — or may not — actually exist). But we feel we can do this right just by avoiding the mistakes made by the Rock Hall.
The first change is the name. Obviously, we can’t call ourselves the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (nor do we want to). The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame left itself open to a constant barrage of “he/she/they are not rock and roll” complaints just with its name. Thus, it is with great care we chose the name of The Goldmine Hall of Fame. We’re not limiting the choices to rock and roll, so there’s no uproar if someone who fails to fit your interpretation of rock and roll is inducted. We’ve anchored the starting point at 1955, the year “Rock Around The Clock” entered the best-seller charts.
Which leads us to the Rock Hall’s second great downfall: criteria. There’s a nominating committee and voting committee, but what guidelines are they given? One: The artist’s first recording must have occurred at least 25 years ago. The rest is opinion.
“Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” explained Terry Stewart, president of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum and a member of the nominating committee. “Unlike baseball, football, basketball or hockey, statistics are not relevant … Gold records, No. 1 hits, and million sellers are really not appropriate standards for evaluation.”
We beg to differ. If statistics are good enough for every other hall of fame, they’re good enough for us. So, as we weigh who deserves a Miner, we’re basing it on four key factors detailed in the Criteria section under the Goldmine Hall of Fame tab.
Skeptical? Stay with us in the months to come as we regularly announce classes of inductees until we’re up to date. We calculate that’ll give us approximately 700 inducted acts, compared to the Rock Hall’s roughly 300. If you don’t think there are at least 700 Hall-of-Fame-worthy groups or artists between 1955 and 1987 (the current 25-year cutoff date), your radio must have been broken.
We hope you will be pleased with the Miners. You should be. You made them. Here’s our first list of inductees.
Meet the first inductees to The Goldmine Rock Era Hall of Fame
1. THE BEATLES
The greatest group in the history of recorded music? The statistics say, “Yes,” and most critics and music fans agree. Paul McCartney and John Lennon were two fantastic lead singers who also emerged as one of the greatest songwriting teams in music history. George Harrison proved to be an exceptional third voice and a fine songwriter, too, as well as a very underrated guitarist.
With McCartney arguably one of the finest bass players in rock history and the affable Ringo Starr proving the perfect drummer for the foursome, The Beatles’ rhythm section was second to none.
With the expert guidance of producer George Martin, The Beatles were encouraged to experiment. Versatility proved one of their strongest attributes. Their albums were never boring; selections ran the gamut from “Your Mother Should Know” to “Revolution,” from “Taxman” to “Eleanor Rigby.”
We doubt we’ll ever see The Beatles’ equal. Our computer program’s final standings gave The Beatles almost one-third more points than their nearest rival, their contemporaries …
2. THE ROLLING STONES
The Stones, who broke soon after The Beatles, nipped at the Fab Four’s heels until John, Paul, George and Ringo collectively called it quits. But The Stones continued, and they’ve become one of rock’s biggest concert attractions.
While lead vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards may not have penned as many classics as Lennon and McCartney, they certainly held their own. After beginning as a bluesy, gritty alternative to The Beatles’ pop, Jagger and Richards followed their countrymen’s lead through a period that gave us such classics as “Ruby Tuesday” and “Lady Jane.”
Without The Beatles setting the path, “Lady Jane” reverted back to “Sister Morphine,” and The Stones became the group most think of today, that of “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Three guitarists — Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ron Wood — have complemented Richards through the years. Bill Wyman’s bass anchored the band until 1992, and Charlie Watts remains on the drummer’s stool.
3. BOB DYLAN
To say that Bob Dylan changed the course of music would be a gross understatement. As a folk artist, his lyrics challenged other writers — Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, included — to expand their vocabularies, and almost everyone else followed suit. Suddenly, the “Moon, June” lyrics of rock grew into “The answer my friend/ is blowin’ in the wind.” Certainly, the times were a-changin’ and Dylan was the major catalyst in that change.
Because listeners tend to focus on Dylan’s lyrics, it’s easy to forget how many great melodies the man has composed. Though his voice was (and still is) an acquired taste, there is no question that Dylan deserves a Miner.
4. ELVIS PRESLEY, HIS BACKING BAND AND THE JORDANAIRES
It’s possible rock and roll never would have happened without Elvis — at least, not rock and roll as we know it. Elvis was music’s perfect storm: as handsome as allowed; so personable even adults who grew up on Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby liked him; so humble he called everyone “Sir” and “Ma’am” and refused special treatment when serving in the armed forces; and so talented he could sing everything from “Baby, Let’s Play House” to “It’s Now Or Never” and do it better than anyone else.
When you put it all together, Elvis couldn’t miss. This one-of-a-kind artist carried rock on his shoulders, making it possible for his contemporaries to reach the airwaves. Elvis’ records still top the charts today, 35 years after his untimely death.
We also bestow Miners to Bill Black (bass), D.J. Fontana (drums) and Scotty Moore (guitar), who backed The King on those classic early recordings that shaped rock and roll, as well as The Jordanaires (Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins and Ray Walker), who provided backup vocals.
5. THE WHO
Some may be surprised at the lofty standing of this foursome, but few bands accomplishments rival those of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.
Instrumentally, The Who was a three-piece band, with Daltrey providing only vocals. But what a three-piece it was. Entwistle generally is regarded as rock’s greatest bass player, while Moon, a total original, played the drums maniacally without disregarding the basic beat — a most difficult task. Townshend has proved one of rock’s most accomplished composers, giving us the rock operas “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia.”
But long before the strains of “Pinball Wizard” hit the airwaves, The Who experimented with the album form. The band’s second LP, “The Who Sell Out,” was one of the first concept albums. The Who never was the same after Moon died in 1978 (and Kenney Jones took the seat behind the kit), but hit albums and singles kept coming. Even Entwistle’s passing in 2002 didn’t end the group’s history, as Townshend and Daltrey have continued to perform.
6. THE BEACH BOYS
“Genius” is a word too often thrown about to describe musical talent. But in the case of Brian Wilson, it applies.
A composer/arranger/producer extraordinaire, Wilson guided his bandmates through musical territory still uncharted by others. From “Surfin’ Safari” to “Pet Sounds,” The Beach Boys made an artistic leap equal to going from “Meet The Beatles” to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
“Pet Sounds” has been singled out by many as one of rock’s finest moments, and now its follow-up, “Smile,” finally has made its appearance, 45 years later. One has to wonder how the history of rock and roll would have changed had this work been released in 1967 as planned.
With Brian in self-imposed exile, the group continued forward after the collapse of “Smile,” and released outstanding albums up until around 1973. A steady touring schedule kept the band and its catalog alive, and sales around the globe lifted The Beach Boys to the position of The United States’ top-ranked group in the Goldmine Hall of Fame.
The vocal gymnastics of Wilson brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis, plus cousin Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks and Bruce Johnston never has been equaled.
7. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E-STREET BAND
Our first inductee from the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen emerged as the equal to any singer-songwriter ever recorded.
There’s no question he earned the nickname “The Boss.” Once he broke into superstar status with 1975’s “Born To Run,” which reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts, Springsteen reeled off nine straight smash LPs — five of which went all the way to No. 1, and none of which finished lower than No. 5.
The Rock Hall has ignored Springsteen’s E-Street Band, which played a major role in his success on stage and in the studio. We play the “common sense” card to award Miners to The E-Street Band: Clarence Clemons (sax), Gary Tallent (bass), Roy Bittan (piano), Steven Van Zandt (guitar), Nils Lofgren (guitar), Danny Federici (organ), Max Weinberg (drums) and Patti Scialfa (guitar).
This Irish group has managed to stay unchanged — Paul Hewson (Bono, vocals), David Evans (The Edge, guitar), Larry Mullen (drums) and Adam Clayton (bass) since breaking into the limelight in 1981, a remarkable feat in and of itself. U2 also has become a best-selling band and tour attraction, too.
Superstardom in the U.S. came with the band’s seventh album, “The Joshua Tree,” which reached No. 1, yielded the group’s first two No. 1 singles, “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and won the Grammy for 1987’s “Album of the Year.”
Over the next 10 years, U2 released four more LPs, each topping charts in the U.S. and around the globe. In the U.K. alone, U2 has notched 15 chart-topping albums and singles. If U2 continues to release new music and play it live, fans will continue to buy it and show up to see them.
The Famous Flames, James Brown’s backing vocal group, in action on left
9. JAMES BROWN AND THE FAMOUS FLAMES
“The Godfather of Soul” has the dubious distinction of placing the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 without ever reaching No. 1. He never hit the top of the U.S. album chart, either. But he was such an innovator — some credit him as the father of funk and as one of the earliest rappers — and his live performances became legendary, so much so that his first hit album was “Live At The Apollo.”
Known as “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business,” Brown released a steady stream of classic recordings, including his show-stopping “Please, Please, Please,” a ballad based upon a note given to Brown by his idol, Little Richard. Underrated as a vocalist, Brown had a gifted voice, capable of switching from “Prisoner of Love” to “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” without missing a step. And steps he had in abundance. He also led
Rock’s hottest band save, perhaps, Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band.
While there were many Famous Flames, the vocal quartet of Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth and Johnny Terry was with him for about 10 years, and this is the group we heard on most early classics and saw supporting Brown on most of his early appearances.
10. LED ZEPPELIN
The mixture of heavy and light never has been so adeptly achieved as it was by this British quartet consisting of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, drummer John Bonham and the multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, the group’s bass player who also contributed keyboards, mandolin and just about anything that lay around the studio when the group recorded.
Between 1969 and 1982, Led Zeppelin released nine studio recordings, all of which topped the British charts except for the first and last. In the mix was a soundtrack album that also topped the U.K. charts, giving the group eight British chart-toppers while just two cuts, “Whole Lotta Love” and “Stairway To Heaven” made the U.K. Top 40 singles chart. The group’s single releases were more successful in the U.S., with six reaching the Top 40. The group put six albums atop the U.S. charts, but “Led Zeppelin IV” — which contains “Stairway to Heaven,” perhaps the group’s most famous recording — stopped at No. 2, though over time it was Led Zeppelin’s biggest-selling LP worldwide.
Combining the thunder of rock and roll with the beauty of folk-based acoustic numbers, Led Zeppelin, nonetheless, is considered by most the greatest heavy metal band of all. There will be more metal bands to pick up Miners in the Goldmine Hall of Fame, but Zeppelin tops them all.