Way back in 2017 we wrote one of our first posts ever, and it was about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Omissions, since then two of our selections have made it in. We understand at the end of the day the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is arbitrary and at the mercy of the nomination committee, totally subjective and very biased. The criteria are bogus and has been hypocritical over the years so why should we care – I don’t know maybe we don’t, but it gives us a great opportunity to talk about some of our favorite bands. Since we are getting close to May when they announce the next class why not talk about it now.
I will die on that hill that says the Monkees should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I said so back in 2017, but as I looked at other artists that were not in, I was surprised. The lack of modern day women acts is startling – especially women of rock. Benatar, The Go-Gos, the Bangles, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Kate Bush to name a few. New Wave has also taken a hit but with Depeche Mode and The Cure they are starting to come around. I am also still pushing for The Smiths, New Order, and Joy Division. I picked a couple modern bands this time but also went back in time to an underappreciated and mostly forgotten about band.
A wonder of the video age, Duran Duran led the way taking New Wave and smashing it through pop radio. Le Bon, Rhodes and the three Taylors took the music world by storm in the early 80s. “Hungry Like a Wolf” was a massive single and video to boot. They were the darlings of British New Wave. If you didn’t know New Wave or hung in those circles this was the band that helped bridge that gap. It also helped that they played great music, had great style and were extremely good-looking. I loved this band. It probably started with “Planet Earth” and then solidified with “Wolf” and “Rio”. The Rio album is one of the best of all time, along with it hits, the album tracks are great too. The videos for “Wolf” and “Rio” were cool. Duran Duran influenced music and they also influenced fashion. Their music videos were an event. Duran Duran has never even been nominated for the Hall of Fame. Outside the big ones, Jackson, Madonna, and Prince, wouldn’t Duran Duran be the quintessential 80s band? And they are still making albums. They are mostly still intact with only Andy Taylor out of the band. In the late 80s they moved from Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger to a different sound with Big Thing and Liberty. In 1993, they reinvented themselves again with the Wedding Album scoring hits with a more adult alternative sound. While they were making hits and creating great videos they had time to do the best James Bond song of all time – sorry Sheena Easton – with a “View to a Kill”. They also split into two bands and had hits with Arcadia and PowerStation. They never stopped touring – I saw them for The Big Thing tour, and it was amazing. Through the 90s and the 00s they kept experimenting even doing a covers’ album featuring a great rendition of “White Lines”. Except for Andy Taylor, as far as rock bands go they stayed fairly out of trouble. So what is stopping them, influencer – check, great music – check, longevity – check, hits – check, big during their time – check, great live performances – check. It’s a long overdue honor that Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, and Andy Taylor get into the hall.
MG: Totally agree with this one and your write-up hits all the supporting evidence. They started out as almost a boy-band, and there are not many examples of pop-rock bands that produced this much quality output over that many years – including, as you mentioned, their 90s album and getting back into the top 40 chart. The fact that they spun off into successful bands for a while, and even Andy Taylor had some success as a solo artist, is testament to the depth of talent and artistry of this band. Other than maybe U2, what other band starting in the early 80s has done what they did?
Is there a more creative, one-of-a-kind band, out there in the world, that gets the radio airplay that The B-52’s get? Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Keith Strickland, and Ricky Wilson started The B-52’s in Georgia in the late 70s. “Love Shack” alone, despite my displeasure and annoyance of the song, is a song that belongs in a “Song” Hall of Fame. Everyone will always know The B-52’s for this song alone, even the musically deficient. It’s played at weddings, reunions and just about any large party. The B-52’s became influential the minute the beginning of Rock Lobster hit the radio. It was off their self-titled 1979 debut album. It is said that it drove John Lennon back to writing music. I don’t know if that is true, and maybe it was for other reasons, but maybe we wouldn’t have the great Double Fantasy album without them. Their music is hard to describe but regardless it’s certainly always danceable – there are no ballads here. For me, it was 1989’s Cosmic Thing that got me into The B-52’s. “Love Shack” not withstanding it’s a great album. “Roam” and “Deadbeat Club” were hit singles. “Channel Z” was an infectious non-single along with my favorite double entendre laden song “Bushfire”. They followed it up with another great album called Good Stuff that had the hit “Revolution Earth”. Also, the hit title track was also good, or as my friend used to say “I wish the whole album was like that.” During this time I went back to listen to older albums and fell in love with Wild Planet – the tracks “Strobe Light” and “Private Idaho” are stand-outs. This band always had an energy both in their recorded music and in their live performances, dancing, yelling, having fun, after the Beach Boys withered away The B-52’s should be America’s party band and should be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. One of the criteria’s is they should be influential and stand the test of time. Not that it always seems to matter to the committee but The B-52’s definitely hold up. I don’t remember hearing them in any scandals or shady deals, just a plain fun band. They have been out volunteering and campaigning on many social issues including PETA and LGBTQ rights. With Ricky Wilson dying of AIDS, this group became a large force in that arena. They are qualified and should be recognized. I would love to see their Georgia counterpart R.E.M. induct them in too – it would be the perfect cap on their career.
MG: Another open and shut case, in my opinion. I also found them through their amazing Cosmic Thing album, then went back later to discover their back catalog. If there’s anything to knock them on, it would be that they weren’t able to do much after Cosmic Thing, even though I personally enjoy Good Stuff. Just the fact that they rotated between one male and two female lead singers (see our post “Take The Lead” where I discuss this) makes them stand out for recognition. They are a fun and enduring party band, beyond the fact that “Love Shack” will continue to be played at 99% of weddings for decades to come.
If tragedy was a criterion for Hall of Fame status Badfinger would have been in years ago. They were signed as the first band on the Beatles’ Apple label under the name The Ivey’s in 1968. They changed their name to Badfinger and had a string of hits and cultural influence in the early 1970s. Four guys from Wales and England, Peter Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and drummer Mike Gibbins all wrote music and sang lead. All their albums had their originals except for their first hit single “Come and Get It” written by Paul McCartney. Their biggest song wasn’t even a single for them but was top 10 for Harry Nilsson and recorded by 180 other artists including Mariah Carey. “Day After Day” is my favorite of their hits, one of the best songs of all time. Their two other biggest hits were “No Matter What” and “Baby Blue” – which had a resurgence when it played during the final episode of Breaking Bad. These songs are pure power pop and pure power ballad. Their songs continue to be covered by other artists and show up in pop culture – TV’s and Movies. “Day After Day” recently showed up in the new film Boss Level with Mel Gibson on Hulu. They got a way with making an album called Ass with a picture of a donkey. Their best album Wish You Were Here was destined to have hits but due to a record label dispute was pulled from the shelf. Their last album Headfirst couldn’t be released until 2000, when Pete and Tom had already died. Before the tragedies started to happen, they had more to give, they were not even at their peak. Their songwriting was deep and reflected a lot of the sadness they were going through. Their manager Stan Polley was pure evil and screwed them out of a lot of their earnings. This dispute and arguments about Molland’s wife pulling a Yoko Ono caused break-ups and reunions. Finally, Pete Ham had enough and hung himself in 1975. His suicide note was pretty specific calling Stan Polley a bastard. The band tried to carry on, but there was just too much financial stress and Tom Evans hung himself from a tree in 1983. The tragedy continued when Gibbins died in 2005 of cancer. Only Molland survives and the time is now to recognize this band. They have more albums than a lot of bands in the Hall. They played on the album The Concert for Bangladesh and backed up George Harrison on his great album All Things Must Pass. The credentials are there and the fans are still there and getting them in to the Hall would be a big boost and maybe help some of their survivors. There should be a movie made about these guys.
MG: I wouldn’t say that tragedy should be a consideration for the Hall, but they do have an interesting story. I wouldn’t be opposed to them getting in, although I’m not sure they had enough hits. My main thing, though, which I’ll discuss more below, is that I think this time period is well represented in the hall, and the inclusion of an early 70’s band would mean a more recent act wouldn’t make the cut.
So since our first post on the Rock Hall of Fame four years ago, two of my picks in that post have made it in (The Cars and Def Leppard) and the third, Soundgarden, was nominated in 2020 but did not make it in. On a personal level, I guess that is progress, but the RAR HOF still has a lot of room for improvement, especially, as DJ mentioned, including more female artists. I get that when they started inducting acts in 1986, there was a lot to catch up on, so there were a lot of artists from the 50s and 60s getting in. Now that we are in 2021, I think it’s time to close the books on the 60s and 70s – I mean, it’s been over 50 years. Was anyone clamoring for The Zombies to get in last year, as if they were the victim of years of oversight? I’m not cutting on the band, I’m just saying enough already with going back into the 60s to induct a band of moderate success, while ignoring so many other more recent worthy acts. They have an opportunity to recognize artists closer to their prime, and to add diversity, which keeps the inductees relevant and also makes for much better induction ceremony performances. Anyway, here’s my three acts I think are overdue.
DJ: I usually don’t interject here but you made a point about Badfinger not having enough hits well you make a great case about The Zombies – 3 hits? No way they should be in – put those songs in the song Hall of Fame. No Duran Duran noms but The Zombies – ugh.
Before we wrote about the Hall last time, I paid it zero mind, thus I just assumed a rock icon like Pat Benatar was already in. So I was shocked when I found out she wasn’t, and only nominated once – just last year. I feel like I don’t even need to make a case for why she should be in. You can’t go far with the story of women in Rock and Roll without mentioning Benatar. Starting in the late 70s, she had a 10 year run of hit after hit with six consecutive platinum-certified albums. During this time she also won four Grammys and earned several other nominations. Her songs are iconic and still live on today: “Heartbreaker”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “Treat Me Right”, “Shadows Of The Night”, “Invincible”, “We Belong”, etc. She was assertive and embraced a hard rock edge early in her career, that edge bolstered by the excellent work of guitarist Neil Giraldo, who played on all of her albums and also became her husband in 1982. She was one of the first stars of MTV and embraced videos, although she did not betray her integrity by just doing “sexy” videos to make a splash. Benatar wasn’t shy to embrace sexuality as a theme in her songs, but she utilized sexuality as a means of empowerment – basically flipping the narrative on the guys that were “on the make”. She created the roadmap for how an artist could be assertive and confident with sexuality in music, without having to cultivate and promote an overt “sex appeal”, if that makes any sense. I saw Pat perform “Heartbreaker” a few years ago on American Idol, of all places, and she sounded great and still commanded the stage. She’s way overdue to get into the Hall of Fame, and hopefully this will be rectified soon so we can see her rock out at an induction ceremony very soon.
DJ: Come on Hall of Fame – NO BRAINER. Benatar had the hits and the rocker cred. One of the best voices in the game. Whiney Houston or Pat Benatar, there is no contest. Benatar is what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should have been created for. Her early albums are fantastic and even when she shifted to a more poppy radio sound she was still great. Giraldo also an underrated collaborator.
Pat Benatar is on every RARHOF snub list you will find, but I haven’t seen anyone mention Sting needing to get in, and he’s only been nominated once in 2015. I could be convinced that an artist should only get in once if they already got into the Hall with a band, which he did with The Police in 2003, but there have been a number of artists getting into the Hall twice as solo artists and as part of a band. Stevie Nicks getting in last year as a solo artist was ridiculous to me. Her contributions to rock were with Fleetwood Mac, which is in the Hall, but her output as a solo artist was merely ok – certainly nowhere near as successful as Sting (or Pat Benatar for that matter). Sting had a lot of success starting with The Dream Of The Blue Turtles in 1985 and well into the 90s. His commitment to bringing jazz elements to his solo work, particularly in his collaboration with Branford Marsalis, set his solo music apart from The Police, and he created a distinctive sound for each of his albums. He had a ton of commercial success, Grammy recognition (three Album of The Year nominations and other noms/wins), and consistently put on great live shows, backed by the jazz-oriented musicians from his album. Another thing that sets him apart, and deserves discussion in the Hall of Fame, was his commitment to philanthropy. Rock and roll artists have a storied history of living lives of excess and bad behavior, and it’s time the Hall paid attention to artists that have worked to make a difference in the world. Sting was first involved with human rights via Amnesty International and was a founder of the Rainforest Foundation Fund in 1989 – long before climate change became a household term. Sting also used his music to highlight political/social issues, such as the song “They Dance Alone” about the vanishing of citizens in Chile under dictator Augusto Pinochet. For the combination of artistry, success, critical acclaim and dedication to philanthropy, Sting deserves his spot in the Hall.
DJ: I could probably go for this. Ten Summoner’s Tales is one of my favorite albums and I like the singles from the others. I don’t have an issue with a solo artist getting in twice, three of the Beatles are in. It does have to be consequential though. I wouldn’t put Pete Townsend in even though he has a few good solo songs. Sting does have a solid body of work and it’s been very different than his stuff with the Police especially his later output. I do dock him points for his song with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart. Was that on the Robin Hood soundtrack?
Another long-standing knock on the RAR HOF is the lack of female representation. I do think they’ve made some progress in the last decade, and it was great to see The Go-Go’s and Tina Turner in the nominations for 2021. Annie Lennox had huge success as both the lead singer for Eurythmics in the 80s and as a solo artist in the 90s. She has one of the best voices in rock/pop music, able to be both powerful and delicate with a huge range and ability to infuse emotion. Dave Stewart, the other half of the duo, certainly had a huge role in their success, with his songwriting, composition and guitar/synth work. Yet, the iconic video for their biggest hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” featuring an androgynous Lennox, would establish her as the face of the act and catapult her into worldwide pop icon status. They had over ten solid top 40 hits across eight albums in eight years and became probably one of the top ten 80s acts. I think their style of music has a certain timelessness and has aged better than some of their peers. The pace of their album recordings and constant touring probably led to the burnout that caused their drift apart by the turn of the decade. They both worked on their separate projects, but it was Lennox who found commercial success again with her solo album Diva in 1993. It went quadruple platinum, and sold more copies than any single Eurythmics album. I’m not sure how it would look, but I’d love to see Annie Lennox get into the Hall being recognized both for Eurythmics and her solo work. That might just mean the Eurythmics getting in and Lennox’ solo work being tacked on as a mention in the induction speech, but either way, I think this is as body of work needing to be recognized.
DJ: I cannot really get behind the Eurythmics. I could get behind Annie Lennox though. I think her hits were bigger and more iconic without Stewart. I certainly wouldn’t be upset though if the band got in. Again did we mention The Zombies are in? Maybe it’s cause I didn’t love the band in their time and appreciated what Lennox could do by herself. I will say though there may be a case for Stewart by himself as writer and as a pretty big time producer. He also worked with Nelson Mandela on the fight in South Africa. He has done solo albums, worked on music for film, and done my collaborations with big time stars. Maybe getting them in as a group handles all of this – I don’t know.