With the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees just announced, there are a couple easy picks and many nominees that elicit a "huh?". Plus, the slights just keep on comin'...
First, who is not nominated: Cheap Trick, Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Devo, Stevie Ray Vaughn or KISS. And how about Willie Nelson? It's criminal, I say.
Among the 15 artists, first-time nominees (artists who released their first record in 1985 are eligible for the first time) include Bon Jovi, Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Donovan and Alice Cooper. Previously nominated artists include J. Geils Band, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, along with New Orleans legend Dr. John, disco queen Donna Summer, and R&B/disco act Chic. Also nominated are Laura Nyro, Darlene Love, Chuck Willis and Joe Tex.
Here's all you need to know: Rob 2011 Rock Hall Picks
Bon Jovi - Seriously, it's Bon Jovi's turn to get the keys to the Hall? I mean, I understand popularity plays a part in this, and they are huge all over the world, but fuckin' Bon Jovi? What's Cheap Trick got to say about this? Maybe in a few years, if you think they really are that important. The Prognosis: IN (holy crap!)
Neil Diamond - "...Sweet Caroline...bop, bop, bop" While Diamond isn't rock, it has been a few years since the criteria has been narrow enough to keep popsters (Madonna) and sorta uncool pop hitmakers from getting in, and Diamond's list of hit records is looooooong. He also was/is a songwriter ("I'm a Believer") and worked with Rick Rubin on his most recent album, so has some street cred. The Prognosis: IN (and I'm OK with that)
Donovan - Hippy 60's folk pop. Aligned with the Beatles (the single "Mellow Yellow" is rumored to feature Paul McCartney on uncredited backing vocals), "Sunshine Superman" was one of the very first psychedelic pop songs when released in 1966. Many first-of-their-kind hits. The Prognosis: IN (both influential and had radio songs - tough combo to ignore)
J. Geils Band - The underrated band dismissed by idiots as worth nothing more than "Centerfold". In reality, the band was a top-rate R&B rock band with a revival-like live show, and made a handful of turn-it-up, dance-on-the-table albums. More influential than superstars, those who know (both other musicians or fans) understand why Peter Wolf is one of the great frontmen of all time, and why the band matters. One of my favorites. Recently upstaged Aerosmith at a recent Fenway Park gig. A big FM radio band. SIDENOTE: I seriously rocked the "Blow Your Face Out" live cassette in my $2,000 Buick Skylark back in 1985. The Prognosis: OUT (screw you people!)
LL Cool J - Groundbreaking rapper and hip-hop artist who maintains an aura of intelligence and credibilty today. Never a big fan, but you can't miss his swath of influence The Prognosis: IN
Beastie Boys - Went from "Fight for your Right (To Party)" to become one of the the legendary rap acts of all-time. I would be good with a vote for them. The Prognosis: OUT (this time)
Dr. John - New Orleans piano player and songwriter. "Right Place, Wrong Time" still gets played on the radio. The Prognosis: OUT (but he would be a blast at a party - 2am boogie piano playing)
Donna Summer - The first Disco Queen. Enough said. The Prognosis: OUT (and stay out)
Chic - The band that launched producer/musican Nile Rodgers to a huge career as a music producer is best known for 1978's "Le Freak" (cough)disco(cough). They also made "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Everybody Dance" (1977) and "Good Times" (1979). They have been nominated five times, and yet to feel the love. I do admit, their music was thumpin'. The Prognosis: OUT (though they sounded good on AM radio)
Laura Nyro - New York singer/songwriter known more for her writing (The 5th Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Stoned Soul Picnic", Blood, Sweat & Tears' "And When I Die" and Three Dog Night's "Eli's Coming") than her own music. Died in 1997. The Prognosis: OUT
Darlene Love - Survived her Phil Spector years; a vital piece of some of the finest 60's girl group music. Her contribution to the great "Phil Spector Christmas" album makes her timeless. The Prognosis: IN (representing the old bunch)
Chuck Willis - Known as "The King of the Stroll" for his performance of the 1950s hit "The Stroll". Had hit with "C.C. Rider". Died at age 30 in 1958, during surgery for repair of a stomach ulcer. The Prognosis: OUT
Joe Tex - Is he the father of rap music ? His style of speaking over music, which he dubbed "rap", makes him important. "Hold What You've Got" was a #5 pop hit in 1966, and "Skinny Legs and All" went to #10. The Prognosis : OUT (though he could be a darkhorse selection)