To be eligible for nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an act must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. This year’s nominees had to release their first single no later than 1984.
They are one of the biggest-selling acts in pop-history – and if Stockholm is now a hit-making mecca, it’s because ABBA first put Sweden on rock’s global map. The four members came together in enchanting, late-1960s post-Euro-hippie fashion – initialed for the two couples, Agnetha ‘Anna’ Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus; and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad. ABBA was a dominant music force throughout the 70’s, and world-wide licensing deals made Polar Music the second biggest corporation in Sweden. Bjorn and Benny’s studio finesse over the course of ABBA’s eight studio LPs drew wide praise from pure pop punks and New Wavers for whom ABBA became a guilty pleasure. They went their solo ways in 1982, but tribute albums and the boffo musical Mamma Mia are keeping ABBA on permanent display.
Her powerful gospel sound was developed singing in her father’s church in East L.A. At 16, Darlene sang at a wedding where two of the bridesmaids asked her to join their vocal group, The Blossoms. They quickly established a major presence in the L.A. session scene doing backgrounds for artists such as Sam Cooke. Darlene caught the attention of young genius record producer Phil Spector and he made her one of the cornerstones of his “Wall of Sound” under various names (The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, and of course, Darlene Love). She sang lead on a string of hits, earning an important place on the landscape of 60’s rock ‘n’ roll. She continues to have a prolific singing career, having starred on Broadway, and in recent years has returned to her gospel roots.
Raised in the church, rooted in gospel, LaDonna Andrea Gaines would become Donna Summer, the undisputed “Queen of Disco.” In 1975, “Love To Love You Baby” began a long-term association with Munich-based songwriters and producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Summer made history from 1979-1980 as the only artist ever to have three consecutive multi disc albums all hit #1: Live and More, Bad Girls and On The Radio. Her first U.S. recorded LP, the self-titled Donna Summer, produced by Quincy Jones in 1982 featured Bruce Springsteen and other notable rock contributors. “She Works Hard For The Money” kept Summer at the top of the charts in 1983, followed by the top 10 hit “This Time I Know It’s Real” in 1989. Endless covers and sampling of her music proves that Summer’s contribution remains compelling and classic.
Almost no group in rock history has had such a long and varied career as Genesis, who began as a cult art-rock band in England in the late 1960’s and went on to pack stadiums across the globe in the 1980’s, 1990’s and on their 2007 reunion tour. In the early 1970’s frontman Peter Gabriel shocked audiences and grabbed headlines by taking the stages in outrageous costumes and occasionally even levitating about the audience. Their music was equally innovative, and early albums Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway are two of the most acclaimed prog-rock albums in the history of the genre. In 1975 Gabriel left the band to pursue a solo career and drummer Phil Collins stepped out from behind the kit to take over. The band experienced many more hits and successful worldwide tours over the next 30 years.
Very few single albums can be said to have changed music forever. Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come is one. The album – and the movie that spawned it – introduced reggae to a worldwide audience and changed the image of the genre from cruise ship soundtrack to music of rebellion and inspiration. “Sitting in Limbo,” “The Harder They Come,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and “Many Rivers to Cross” made Jimmy Cliff the first international reggae superstar and created the model that Bob Marley would soon follow. A beautifully gifted singer and a uniquely influential songwriter, Jimmy Cliff has made a profound impact on rock and pop music all over the world for 40 years.
Few bands short of The Beatles inspired more kids to pick up the guitar than KISS. With their signature make-up, explosive stage show and anthems like “Rock and Roll All Night” and “Detroit Rock City,” they are the very personification of rock stars. Original members Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons came together in New York in 1972. While their first two records didn’t generate many sales, they quickly gained a national following for their bombastic, pyro-filled stage show. Their 1975 live disc Alive! captured that energy and reached number nine on the charts, quickly making them one of the most popular bands of the 1970’s — scoring countless hit singles, sold-out tours and appearing everywhere from comic books to lunch boxes to their very own TV movie. They continue to perform sold out concerts around the world.
Singer, songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro (1947-1997) was still a teenager in 1966 when she recorded her debut album, and Peter, Paul and Mary cut “And When I Die.” She was a true original — composing intricate, haunting songs which found a vast audience when recorded by other artists. Indeed, others scored hit after hit with her songs, led by the 5th Dimension’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Sweet Blindness” in 1968 (then “Wedding Bell Blues” in ’69 and “Blowin’ Away” in ’70). Over two consecutive weeks in October 1969, Blood, Sweat & Tears entered the Hot 100 with “And When I Die,” and Three Dog Night followed with “Eli’s Coming.” Elton John acclaimed her influence to Elvis Costello: “The soul, the passion, the out-and-out audacity of her rhythmic and melody changes was like nothing I’d ever heard before.”
LL COOL J
LL Cool J always had his sights set on rock & roll. Born James Todd Smith in Queens, New York, LL was only 17 in 1985 when he recorded “Rock the Bells,” which included the following couplet: “Cause it ain’t the glory days with Bruce Springsteen/I’m not a virgin so I know I’ll make Madonna scream.” A year earlier LL had made his debut on Def Jam, which was also the debut of the label itself. His first two singles – “I Need a Beat” followed by “I Want You” – sketched out the two main gears of his career: testosterone-maddened battle raps and tender, sexy love songs. The former included “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (1985), “Jack the Ripper” (1987), and “Mama Said Knock You Out” (1991). By the 1990s, LL was working in television and film and has proven that rappers can sustain a long-term career.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Formed in the sin-and-glamour capital of America – Hollywood, California – in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most flamboyant, commercially successful and musically influential bands of rock’s last quarter century. They were high school pals who combined their passions for Jimi Hendrix, Seventies R&B and hardcore punk with sexual exuberance and local skateboard culture, immediately becoming famous for their outrageous (often near-naked) live shows and incendiary jamming. The Chili Peppers broke through with 1991’s BloodSugarSexMagik, a multi-platinum fusion of metal and rap that was pivotal in bringing modern black street culture and music to the Nirvana generation. The band’s 2006 two-CD set Stadium Arcadium went right to Number One and is their most ambitious collection to date.
There may have been hits by female R&B vocal groups before them, but the Chantels were the first to achieve a consistent run of chart records, thus paving the way for The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Supremes and all the other “girl” groups that followed. Named for a rival Bronx, N.Y. high school, St. Francis de Chantelle, they were discovered by writer-producer and Valentines’ lead singer Richard Barrett who brought them to George Goldner’s End Records in 1957. The Chantels’ distinctive, choir-like sound, with its classical and gospel overtones, featured the soaring lead of Arlene Smith, who also wrote much of the group’s material including its signature song “Maybe,” which has been covered many times over the years, most notably by Janis Joplin.
Above all, it was the wide-open three-part vocal harmonies of original members Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, and Eric Haydock, inspired by the Everly Brothers, that gave the Hollies a sound apart from other British Invasion beat groups. Songwriter Graham Gouldman supplied them with “Look Through Any Window” and “Bus Stop.” And the original writing talent of Clarke, Nash, and lead guitarist Tony Hicks took over on “Stop! Stop! Stop!” and “On a Carousel,” as the Hollies went on to chart 21 consecutive Top 20 UK hits through 1970. After Nash’s departure in 1968, new hits carried them into the mid-70’s including “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” “Long Dark Road,” “Magic Woman Touch,” “The Air That I Breathe,” and others.
The “Big Bang” that became punk, alternative, heavy metal, new wave, grunge, hardcore and industrial music, could very well have been the advent of Iggy and the Stooges in Ann Arbor in the late 1960’s. Confrontational, out of the mainstream and the complete antitheses of the hippie movement, the Stooges were adopted by those on the margins of rock. Their debut Elektra LP was produced in four days by the Velvet Undergound’s John Cale and contained at least three landmarks: “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “1969.” Immediately embraced in New York, London and Los Angeles for the nuclear-powered simplicity of their music, the ironic nihilism of their lyrics, and the persona of Iggy himself, the Stooges have become icons in the history of modern music.