By Phill Marder
The Goldmine Hall of Fame is, we hope, a more fan-oriented alternative to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is the seventh set of 10 selections.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 10 inductees approximately every two weeks until all 700-plus inductees are announced. Bios of all selections and criteria for induction can be found on our website by clicking the Goldmine Hall of Fame tab. A running list of all announced inductees will be listed, also.
71. THE CARPENTERS –
With Richard Carpenter doing the arranging and the exquisite voice of Karen Carpenter up front, The Carpenters were so good they could dominate record charts and please even the most hardened critics, though often not simultaneously.
Their records sold immediately. Critical acceptance took a while to acquire as their lily-white image made them unhip for critics counting ripples on decibel graphs.
The Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride” was the first to get The Carpenters’ treatment, Richard slowing the tempo and providing what would become trademark lush background vocals to compliment Karen’s lead. It was a minor hit, but set the stage for the follow-up, “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” an almost carbon copy of Dionne Warwick’s album version. Like most Burt Bacharach-Hal David compositions, it soared to #1.
Most of the Carpenters’ hits were by outside writers, but Richard did chip in on a couple songs. The lack of self-penned material didn’t matter, though, as The Carpenters placed three recordings at the top of the Hot 100 and five more in the runner-up slot during the ‘70s. On the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts, the pair posted an incredible 15 #1 records and three that just missed. Their albums were also big sellers, three reaching #2 in the U.S., one #4 and a Greatest Hits package going to the top.
When a well-documented eating disorder led to Karen passing from heart failure in 1983, one of music’s great voices was silenced prematurely. But the Carpenters’ recorded legacy lives on and grows in stature as time passes.
72. ZZ TOP –
No overnight success here, this Texas trio became one of the strongest forces in record and concert ticket sales by plugging away steadily, building a loyal following, then using the at the time newly popular video form to gain worldwide exposure.
So strong was their video image that in 1984, the initial year of MTV’s video awards, the trio’s video for “Legs” was selected “Group Video Of The Year,” beating out four other candidates, one of which was their own “Sharp Dressed Man.” Both came from their eighth LP “Eliminator,” their first long-player to hit the top 10 since “Fandango,” eight years prior. “Eliminator” also was their first album to break the group worldwide.
There is no question that the group’s unique appearance, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill sporting beards down to their chests while drummer Frank Beard is clean shaven, drew attention, but visual appeal can take you just so far. Sooner or later, you need the chops to back it up. And ZZ Top has the chops. Their next LP, “Afterburner,” fared even better than “Eliminator,” and the next, “Recycler,” not released until five years after “Afterburner,” also was an across-the-board smash.
Just recently, an EP, “Texicali,” was released as a reported sampler of a new album scheduled for the second half of 2012. ZZ Top’s first LP was released in 1971, marking well over 40 years the trio has been intact.
73. THE BYRDS –
The Byrds were steady sellers in the United States and England but, like Sly & his gang, weren’t chart dominators. However, their better-than-good sales figures combined with almost universal critical acclaim.
Leader Jim (Roger) McGuinn who, like John Denver, honed his chops in the magnificent Chad Mitchell Trio, took his folk background and plugged in his electric 12-string Rickenbacker. He then led a group of studio musicians through Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which gave The Byrds a No. 1 single and top 10 album on both sides of the Atlantic. More importantly, it virtually started the genre known as Folk Rock.
The guitar trio of McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark, along with drummer Michael Clarke and bassist Chris Hillman followed with another Dylan classic, “All I Really Want To Do,” which climbed to No. 4 in the U.K. but was outdone by Cher’s version in the States. The next single, “Turn Turn Turn,” repeated the debut’s trip to the top, however, cementing the Byrds’ future though, surprisingly, they never had another top 10 single and their only top 10 LP was their debut.
By the third LP, The Byrds had become space-rock pioneers, but all their long-players featured Country stylings and their “Sweethearts Of The Rodeo” is highly regarded as a cornerstone of Country Rock, though it did not do well commercially.
Other key members receiving “Miners” include Clarence White(guitar), Skip Battin(bass) and Gene Parsons(drums).
74. AL GREEN –
For a short period, 1971-74, Al Green was as hot a recording artist as you could find.
After four years of struggling to get a hit, Green scored with “Tired Of Being Alone,” which just missed the top 10 in the States and rose to No. 4 in Britain. Any thought Green could be a one-hit wonder was quickly dashed when the follow-up, “Let’s Stay Together,” locked up the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and followed “Tired Of Being Alone” into the British top 10.
Though Green’s magic was short lived overseas, he started 1972 with two more smashes, the No. 4 “Look What You Done For Me” and the No. 3 “I’m Still In Love With You.” “You Ought To Be With Me” finished the year as a No. 3 chartbuster. Green returned to the top 10 twice in 1973 with “Call Me (Come Back Home)” and “Here I Am (Come & Take Me)” and again the next year with “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy),” but he was running out of steam. He didn’t return to the top 10 until 14 years later when “Put A Little Love In Your Heart,” a duet with Annie Lennox, did the trick.
Green had reached No. 19 on the album charts with “Green Is Blues,” a collection that featured several covers, but his real run of successful long-players began with 1972’s No. 8 “Let’s Stay Together,” which was followed by the No. 4 “I’m Still In Love With You” and the No. 10 “Call Me.”
As 1974 drew near a close, fate intervened and he was badly burned in an attack by a jealous lover. Taking this as a message, he became a pastor, but continued recording and making public appearances though his sales were declining. In 1979, he was injured in a fall from a stage and from that point he concentrated most of his efforts on his church and the recording of gospel music.
75. THE ISLEY BROTHERS –
A tribute to longevity, this Ohio family has been prominent on the Rhythm & Blues and Rock scenes for close to 50 years.
Originally a quartet consisting of brothers Ronald, Kelly, Rudy and Vernon, the Isleys were reduced to a trio when the biking Vernon was killed by a motorist. In 1959, they had their first taste of success when “Shout!” squeaked into the top 50. It was an auspicious showing for a song now recognized as a classic covered by numerous artists, Joey Dee & the Starliters taking it to #6 three years later, while Lulu had a #7 hit with it in the U.K. It gained an entirely new life when Otis Day & the Knights performed it in the 1978 film “Animal House.”
Coming off the debut LP, “Shout!” was one of just two self-penned songs on the release, the other being “Respectable,” which didn’t chart but later became a hit for The Outsiders. The Isley’s second album produced a classic, albeit a non-original, “Twist & Shout” reaching #17, later turning into another much-covered classic, The Beatles’ version being the best known. The Isley’s original “Nobody But Me” stiffed completely only to become a major score for The Human Beinz in 1968.
The Isleys search for a follow-up ended in Motown in 1966 when the Tamla classic “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)” hit #12 in the States and #3 in the U.K. But it wasn’t until three years later that The Isleys had another success, reaching #2 with “It’s Your Thing.” By the time they hit #6 with “That Lady (Part 1)” in 1973, the group had doubled in size with the addition of younger brothers Ernie and Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper.
The Isleys continued to appear regularly on the R&B charts with the occasional crossover success, “Fight The Power (Part 1)” reaching #4 in 1975. Their three LPs released in the 2000s have gone top 5, 2003’s “Body Kiss” topping the charts.
76. THE KINKS –
Often underrated, Ray Davies and company have amassed such a popular catalog over the years they rank as one of the greatest groups of all time, scoring higher than many with more visual profiles.
Davies became one of Rock’s most respected songwriters. From “the prototypes of heavy metal,” Davies’ amazing “You Really Got Me” and “All Day & All Night,” to the melodic mid-tempo classics, “Tired Of Waiting For You” and “Set Me Free,” to the strange “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” and “See My Friends,” to the vaudeville-like blockbusters “A Well Respected Man” and “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion,” Davies proved as prolific as his peers and easily their equal. “Sunny Afternoon, “Waterloo Sunset,” “Lola,” Davies couldn’t miss, several of his album-only compositions becoming hits for others. The Kinks continued placing Davies compositions high on the charts well into the ’80s, with “Better Things,” “Come Dancing” and “Don’t Forget To Dance” among fan favorites.
Perhaps the most British of all the British groups, The Kinks were also responsible for three of Rock’s earliest concept albums, “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society,” “Arthur (Or the Decline & Fall of the British Empire)” and “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” and this trend continued through the remainder of the group’s career.
Ray’s brother, Dave, served as lead guitarist, Pete Quaife was the original bassist and Mick Avory, one of Rock’s best drummers, handled the stickwork until 1984. John Dalton, who replaced Quaife and played with the group for seven years, Ian Gibbons, keyboardist for 10 years, his predecessor, John Gosling, an eight-year member, Bob Henrit, Argent’s original drummer who replaced Avory and stayed for 12 years and Jim Rodford, who played bass for 18 years, all deserve “Miners” as Goldmine inductees.
77. JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP –
If a Mt. Rushmore of authentic rockers from the ‘70s and ‘80s was chiseled into a mountainside somewhere, it would likely include the features of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Tom Petty and John Cougar Mellencamp.
Of the four, Mellencamp probably snubbed his nose at commercial and critical acceptance the most, all the while achieving both. From his early pop star beginning as Johnny Cougar, Mellencamp was superstar material, willing or not, thanks to his songwriting gift which, like the others mentioned above, seems to connect with the average man and woman without a trace of insincerity.
Released under the Cougar moniker, Mellencamp’s first four albums slowly built an audience thanks mainly to a couple hit singles, “I Need A Lover,” “This Time” and “Ain’t Even Done With The Night.” But it was album #5, “American Fool,” that brought Mellencamp to the top of the charts thanks to its #1 single “Jack & Diane.” “Hurt So Good,” from the same LP, was the first smash from the LP, reaching #2 and #1 in Canada, but “Jack & Diane” was one of those rare recordings destined to become an artist’s signature song and it broke Mellencamp in other markets, particularly the U.K.
From that moment, Mellencamp was rarely missing from the best-seller charts, 12 albums making the U.S. top 20 up until 2010’s “No Better Than This.” All the while, Mellencamp recorded what he wanted and how he wanted it, the latter LP even being a mono-only release. Seventeen of his singles have reached the top 20.
78. CHER –
A superstar of the highest order, Cher has been and remains today one of the Rock Era’s most dominant figures, male or female. Speak the name Cher in almost any language and the listener will know who you’re referring to. She may not be as known worldwide as Muhammad Ali or Paul McCartney, for example, but she isn’t far behind.
Cher is the only artist ever to win the Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, the Golden Globe and a Cannes Film Festival Award. She has been called the “Goddess of Pop,” but that is a misnomer, as no female has represented Rock & Roll with her music, appearance and attitude more than Cher.
She first hit the top 10 as a solo artist when her version of Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do” reached #9 in Great Britain in 1965. It peaked at #15 in the U.S., easily besting The Byrds’ more remembered recording. She just missed the top the following year when “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” stopped at #2 in the States and #3 in the U.K., also scoring well in other parts of the globe. All this time, she also was turning out smashes with husband Sonny. Points accumulated by the pair were tabulated separately, otherwise Cher would have ranked even higher on our list.
Cher first hit #1 on her own when “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” climbed to the top in 1971, and two years later “Half-Breed” matched it. The next year “Dark Lady” hit #1. She continued to have hits, but didn’t get another chart-topper until 1989’s “If I Could Turn Back Time,” #1 in Australia, and 1990’s “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” the cover of Betty Everett’s hit topping the U.K. chart.
In 1998, 33 years after her first hit, Cher released her biggest single, “Believe,” which proved a chart-topper around the globe. Cher’s total album sales are numbered at over 100 million.
79. JAMES TAYLOR –
The 1970s was the decade of the singer-songwriter, and one leading the way was the impeccable James Taylor.
The first non-British act signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records, Taylor recorded one LP for that label. Released at the close of 1968, it pretty much stiffed and Taylor found his way to Warner Brothers, where his signature song, “Fire & Rain,” soared to #3, carrying the LP to similar heights, #3 in the U.S. and Canada, #6 in Britain. It also brought his debut LP back, the album this time getting to #62 on the Billboard chart.
From that point, Taylor never was far from the limelight as his albums and singles steadily enhanced best-seller lists, though his popularity was centered in North America. He released 17 original studio albums through 2008’s “Covers,” each one breaking into the U.S. top 40, 10 reaching the top 10, including the most recent three. Ironically, though known as a great songwriter, the “Covers” LP was just that…covers…and many of his biggest hits also were covers. In fact, his only self-penned top 10 single was “Fire & Rain.”
Taylor’s only #1 single, “You’ve Got A Friend,” was penned by his good friend Carole King, his #5 “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” covered Marvin Gaye’s hit, the #4 “Handy Man” reworked the Jimmy Jones smash and his duet with Carly Simon, the #5 “Mockingbird,” reprised the earlier hit by Inez & Charlie Foxx. However, a Taylor concert, while sure to include the hits, will be mainly originals, and few will be unfamiliar to audiences, many of his compositions standing as classic LP cuts.
80. JOHNNY MATHIS –
Johnny Mathis likely never will gain entrance into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But his impact on the Rock Era was remarkable, and he remains a steady album seller and concert draw to this day.
Two years into the Rock Era, the then 21-year-old Mathis broke onto the music scene with what has to be considered one of the most successful first years in the history of the music industry. In 1957, he unleashed six hit singles, all of which became instant favorites at the submarine races and classics over time – “Wonderful! Wonderful!,” “It’s Not For Me To Say,” “Chances Are,” “The Twelfth Of Never,” “No Love (But Your Love)” and “Wild Is The Wind.”
It was such a strong lineup that the LP, “Johnny’s Greatest Hits,” which contained the six, ranks second in the history of the Billboard top 200 album chart in longevity, remaining on the chart for 490 weeks. It is bested only by Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon,” which has charted for an unbelievable 797 weeks. In fact, Mathis is the only artist to hold down multiple top spots in the longevity top 10, his “Heavenly” ranking seventh with 295 weeks on the list.
But Mathis was far from finished, his appeal continuing through the years as he reached #14 with “A Certain Smile” in 1958, #12 with “Misty” in 1959 and the top 10 with 1962’s “Gina” and 1963’s “What Will Mary Say?” He even persevered through the British Invasion to connect with a #1 single in 1978, a duet with Deniece Williams, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late.” That helped him churn out his 20th top 10 album and, all told, from 1955 until the new millennium, Mathis ranked fourth on the U.S. all-time album artist list behind only Elvis, Sinatra and the Beatles.