By Phill Marder
Faithful readers of Goldmine know that last year I was assigned the task of compiling a list of 10 bands snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Considering the track record of the Hall of Fame, limiting the list to 10 was nigh impossible. And when I did, the fur started flying as readers pounded me with, “Hey dummy, what about this band…and what about that band?” Then there were the readers who complained some individuals were excluded, one naming Joe Tex, Don Covay, Connie Francis, Freddy Cannon, Len Barry and Pat Boone, all fine suggestions except for the fact none qualify as a “band” or “group,” even allowing for weight gain due to the aging process.
So, this year I get the chance to add 10 more. All 10, as well as many others, were profiled in “Great Blogs Of Fire” last year, and more are still to come. With all on last year’s list ignored – Heart was the only nominee and they didn’t make it – the importance of being on this list is questionable. In fact, considering my track record, group’s should be trying to avoid this list.
Remember, last year’s list included Bon Jovi, The Cars, Chicago, The E-Street Band, The Guess Who, Heart, Kiss, The Moody Blues, Paul Revere & The Raiders and Rush. So don’t gripe if they’re not on this year’s list.
And remember, Grand Funk Railroad was the installment prior to this 2011 recap, so if you missed it, check “Great Blogs of Fire” under blogs. There you’ll also find articles on solo artists – Todd Rundgren, Chubby Checker and more – and several duos – Hall & Oates, America, Pet Shop Boys, etc.
And stay tuned. There’s a good chance your favorite, if not already covered, will be coming to this blog soon. Or to an even bigger recognition.
Again, in alphabetical order, 10 more bands that should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
CHEAP TRICK -
The almost original foursome has been around so long now, their biggest problem is probably being taken for granted.
Another problem may be the band’s lack of success in England, strange as few groups have been as capable of sounding as Beatlesque as Cheap Trick and they have been quite strong in some other European locales, in addition to Japan and the entire Pan Pacific.
Cheap Trick is a rare example of critics and fans agreeing. They get overall good reviews and they sell product and concert tickets as well.
There are bands that should enter the Hall of Fame ahead of Cheap Trick. But there also are some currently enshrined that should have followed them.
THE CURE -
Robert Smith’s guys were nominated last year, but didn’t make the cut. How close were they? Anyone…anyone??
I’m confident The Cure will get there eventually. Of course, many of us oldtimers are skeptical of anything that came across after 1980. But I try to keep an open ear and I purchased the 1987 disc, “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” apparently doing my part to make it the band’s highest charting (#35) album to that date in the U.S. It actually was the group’s sixth U.S. charting long player, so we’re not talking overnight wonder here.
The LP turned out to be a favorite of mine, with strong material and excellent musicianship, and the follow-up, “Disintegration,” climbed all the way to No. 12. But it took until 1992 for the band’s biggest hit, “Wish,” which rose to No. 2 and No. 1 in the U.K. All told, The Cure has been one of Britain’s top groups since 1980, placing 11 albums in the Top 10.
DEEP PURPLE -
The question is, “How many of today’s guitarists cut their teeth on the riff from “Smoke On The Water?” The answer? Anyone?…anyone?
That 1973 classic became Deep Purple’s signature song and their biggest hit, equaling the No. 4 finish of their first big single, “Hush.” Deep Purple also connected for two top 10 singles in the United Kingdom, “Black Night” and “Strange Kind Of Woman.”
But we all know Purple was not a singles band, though they did manage to mix heavy melody content with their hard rock/metal foundation, which earned them recognition as the world’s loudest band. From 1968 until 1993, this remarkably durable congregation smashed its way through several lineups without losing steam, putting five LPs into the U.S. top 20 and 12 into the U.K. top 20, where they topped the charts three times, with “Fireball,” “Machine Head” and “Deepest Purple.”
DEF LEPPARD -
They say a leopard never changes its spots. Why should Def Leppard?
Following the adage, “if it ain ‘t broke, don’t fix it,” this English quintet has remained remarkably consistent in its output, earning recognition from some as the world’s premier heavy metal band, from others as the world’s premier hard rock band and from fans as just an extremely popular and enduring band, no matter the category critics assign them.
From their debut album, “On Through The Night,” which appeared in 1980, to “Songs From The Sparkle Lounge,” which kept Def Leppard in the top 10 in 2008, vocalist Joe Elliott and his cohorts have maintained a standard of excellence, resulting in two albums, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize,” that topped both the U.S. and U.K. charts, plus a No. 2, “Pyromania,” in the U.S.
Perhaps the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will induct them if guitarist Phil Collen promises to wear a shirt?
DURAN DURAN -
No it didn’t reach Elvis or Beatles’ standards, but the fervor generated by England’s “Fab 5″ eclipsed most others in Rock history, save, perhaps, The Monkees.
They broke into the big time with 1981’s British hit single, “Planet Earth,” and conquered the U.S. market the following year with “Hungry Like The Wolf.”
With MTV and videos the new fad, Duran Duran quickly swept the globe. Was it their music or just their good looks? Video made them giants, but time proved they had the musical chops to justify the popularity. In the U.S., Duran Duran gave us 13 top 20 singles and eight top 20 LPs and they did even better in their U.K. homeland, charting 13 top 20 LPs and 22 Top 20 singles.
They are currently on tour supporting last year’s hit album, “All You Need Is Now.”
THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA -
The must be inducted member is Jeff Lynne, thanks to his work with The Move and The Traveling Wilburys, his success as a songwriter and his accomplishments as a producer.
But since the R&R Hall of Fame has ignored him thus far and seems to have an aversion toward progressive rock groups, let’s go for Lynne’s crowning achievement – ELO, one of the most accomplished and popular groups of the ’70s and early ’80s.
Trendsetters, with a full-time, three-member string section, ELO dominated the radio waves and best-seller charts from 1972 until 1986, with five of their LPs and seven singles reaching the Top 10.
Probably too popular for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Even though they recorded for Atlantic, even though they had No. 1 albums and singles on both sides of the Atlantic…Ocean, that is… and even though they rocked as hard as any band since the ’70s, Foreigner cannot get a nod.
If they’re being ignored because of their monster ballads, someone should make “Urgent,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Juke Box Hero” and “Break It Up,” among others, required listening for the Rock Hall’s nominating committee.
GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS -
When I wrote this segment last year, it also included Herman’s Hermits, but Peter Noone, apparently disturbed by my summary of the Hermits, responded by writing, “I don’t want to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” and suggested I put my efforts into getting Gerry & the boys inducted in addition to another somewhat childish suggestion.
Talk about ego.
I suppose it never occurred to Noone that maybe the surviving Hermits or the families of anyone not still with us may want the honor and recognition for their work. Judging from his comment, Noone apparently doesn’t think The Hermits was a group effort. But the article suggested Herman’s Hermits should be in the Hall of Fame, not Peter Noone should be in the Hall of Fame.
This section also included Manfred Mann, The Searchers, The Troggs and The Zombies, and I still think all six rate induction, but since I’m just picking one, Gerry & The Pacemakers get the edge, though the Hermits did have the most hits.
Why the Pacemakers before the Hermits? Overall, the groups were close. But the difference between the frontmen, Gerry Marsden and Noone, gives the Pacemakers the edge.
Marsden was not the most prolific writer, but when he did write he penned some of the best songs to come out of the British Invasion, “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying ” and “Ferry Across The Mersey” being the most memorable. Noone sang almost all cover material. Marsden played guitar, Noone played the crowd. And, though Noone’s vocal efforts were pleasant enough on lighter fare, Marsden was much better overall and thus much more versatile.
JETHRO TULL -
It’s almost impossible to take the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame seriously when bands such as Jethro Tull have yet to be inducted.
Led by Ian Anderson, who resembled a crane when stationary and a “Dancing With The Stars” version of Joe Cocker when on the move, Tull was a completely unique band. I mean, Anderson played flute and they were named after the inventor of a seed drill. C’mon.
But even with little success producing hits, Tull dominated album charts for well over 20 years and rarely failed to sell out personal appearances. In 1972 and 1973, they produced albums that topped the U.S. charts, “Thick As A Brick” and “A Passion Play.” 1974’s “War Child” just missed, stopping at No. 2, and four others, “Aqualung,” “Living In The Past,” “Minstrel In The Gallery” and “Songs From The Wood” cracked the top 10. They reached similar heights in their homeland.
THE MONKEES -
No group I pitched for last year drew anywhere near the response garnered by fan favorites, The Monkees.
So what did the R&R HOF do? Ignored The Monkees and inducted Don Kirshner instead. No fear, Monkee fans…Goldmine backs The Monkees 100 percent, even though they canceled the end of last year’s tour, rendering my tickets useless.
The arguments are just as useless. The R&R HOF is aware of how many records the group sold, how many concerts it sold out, how popular and innovative the TV series was, and how meaningless is the complaint of the group not playing on their earliest recordings.
Most of the artists in the “Great Blogs Of Fire” series point out just how out of touch the R&R Hall of Fame is with the public. Perhaps none more than The Monkees.
THE SMITHS -
The Brits always seem to be more open to extremes than those in the States, one example being the United Kingdom’s embracing of The Smiths, a group for the most part ignored in the U.S. At least comparatively speaking.
Without a hit single in the colonies, The Smiths still managed to chart seven LPs, though none ranked stronger than #55 in spite of critical acclaim here. However, in the British Isles, where the group was revered, 18 singles hit the top 30 and 17 albums cracked the top 40, including two that topped the charts and five that hit #2.
Controversial lead singer Morrissey also has achieved great success on both sides of the Atlantic as a solo artist.
Either the Brits know something the Americans don’t, or they have extremely poor taste. As a fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, I’d lean toward the former.
TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS -
Last year Joan Jett & the Blackhearts were nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They had three top 10 hits, one being the No. 7 “Crimson & Clover.” The source of the much superior original, Tommy James & the Shondells, has yet to be recognized.
The Shondells’ “Crimson & Clover” topped the charts in 1969. Two other James top 5 hits, “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Mony Mony,” hit No. 1 on remakes, the former by Tiffany, the latter by Billy Idol.
In total, this group produced eight Top 10 hits, including the No. 1 “Hanky Panky,” the No. 2 “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and the No. 4 solo smash by James, “Draggin’ The Line.”
And, perhaps more importantly, they did it all on Roulette Records and managed to stay alive, too. Speaking of alive, James still tours with a group of Shondells, rocking harder than ever.
The blog, “Great Blogs Of Fire,” already has documented the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s apparent disdain for Progressive Rock.
No Moody Blues, no Rush, no Jethro Tull, no Electric Light Orchestra, no sense.
And the neglect has stretched even to Atlantic Records, of which almost everyone involved in the company currently is inducted save two of the label’s most successful recording acts – King Crimson and Yes, coincidentally both giants of Progressive Rock.
We haven’t gotten around to King Crimson…yet. But we did profile Yes last year, and there’s no question they belong in the Hall of Fame. With just two major hit singles, “Roundabout” and the No. 1 “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” Yes still managed to become one of the world’s best-selling groups and one of Rock’s largest concert draws.
Almost every one of their long-players hit the top 10 in the United Kingdom and seven reached the top 10 in the states. That success has been duplicated around the globe.
Yes has been eligible 17 years without a nomination. Memorandum to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee and voting members – It is no crime to be an instrumental virtuoso.
I know, I know…It’s a baker’s dozen, not 10. Shhhhhhhhhh.
And remember, there’s more to come in 2012. So keep reading…and writing.