[23 September 2008]
Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
Monday’s announcement of the 2009 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be of heightened interest to folks on the North Coast because the 24th annual induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland instead of New York City.
In addition, fans will be able to cheer for their rock heroes in person, as tickets for the event will be available to the public for the first time.
With only five slots open, four of this year’s nominees won’t be formally invited to the big party. Since history suggests that favoritism and personal bias play some part in the selection process for rock hall voters, here are brief resumes on the nominees and wildly subjective odds on which ones will ultimately make up the Class of 2009.
Jeff Beck - A longtime guitarist’s guitarist, Beck first made his name in the mid-1960s during a relatively brief stint with the Yardbirds, which also introduced the world to Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Next, he formed the Jeff Beck Group, featuring Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, and released a couple of bona fide blues-rock classics in Truth and Beck-Ola. Beck spent much of the 1970s playing jazz-rock fusion. He teamed up with former Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, and played with former Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer. Since the ‘80s, Beck has periodically released albums to little fanfare, but his place in the pantheon of rock guitarists is set in stone.
Chances of induction: Pretty darn good.
Wanda Jackson - Known as the Queen of Rockabilly and the First Lady of Rock and Roll, a former Elvis Presley opening act, the still-active Jackson was respected and beloved by Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, among others. Her early hits include “You Can’t Have My Love,” “Let’s Have a Party” and “The Box It Came In.” In 2006, Jackson released a covers album called “I Remember Elvis.”
Chances of induction: Also pretty darn good.
Metallica - Thrash-metal pioneers who became superstars in the 1990s, the quartet was arguably one of the heaviest bands to ever have a chart-topping album with 1991’s “Metallica” (aka the “Black Album”). The band’s recent history has been less than stellar, with the documentary Some Kind of Monster not showing the members in the best light. But new album “Death Magnetic” is the band’s best in more than a decade.
Chances of induction: Oh, hell yeah.
Run-D.M.C. - Hip-hop continues to creep into the rock hall, with arguably the genre’s most obvious choice (pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted in 2007). Besides being one of hip-hop’s first and biggest crossover artists, the trio was among the first to consistently incorporate rock riffs and attitude in tracks such as “Kings of Rock” and “Rock Box,” before the global 1986 hit duet with Aerosmith on “Walk This Way.”
Chances of induction: Well, they are the self-proclaimed “kings of rock.”
The Stooges - This seminal proto-punk band featuring wild man Iggy Pop has been eligible since 1994. While the group never had a “hit,” tunes such as “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Seek & Destroy” have influenced a wide variety of bands. With the rock hall’s qualifying year moving deeper into the ‘80s (hair metal and synth pop, here we come!), whatever specific bias that has kept the band out of the hall is surely looking less vital.
Chances of induction: Madonna’s in and not the Stooges? That’s just wrong.
War - This multi-culti R&B/rock sextet with a heavy Latin influence came to mainstream attention backing up former Animal Eric Burdon on “Spill the Wine.” The band had hits such as “Slipping Into Darkness,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Low Rider,” one of the few R&B songs that gets regular rotation on classic rock stations.
Chances of induction: Will probably have to wait a few more years.
Little Anthony and the Imperials - This classic doo-wop group of the late ‘50s/early ‘60s featured Jerome Anthony Gourdine’s lovely vocals on hits such as “Tears on My Pillow,” “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop,” and “Goin’ Out of My Head.”
Chances of induction: Rock hall voters seem to have a soft spot for these doo-wop groups, many of whom never earned anywhere near the amount of money they generated for others. Also, there are probably still a bunch of voters who experienced some special moments in the back seat of Daddy’s car while listening to Little Anthony. So chances are good.
Chic - The disco/R&B act featuring bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers made the nomination list for 2008, and it has a handful of pop classics in “Good Times,” “Le Freak” and “Everybody Dance.”
Chances of induction: As fun as the band’s hits are, there are simply way too many folks ahead of it in line.
Bobby Womack - A Cleveland-born soul singer/songwriter/session guitarist who has been making music for nearly 60 years, Womack has written some great tunes, including the Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now,” Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” Janis Joplin’s “Trust Me,” as well as his own “Across 110th Street” and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” As a guitarist, Womack played on classic tracks and albums by Sly & the Family Stone, Franklin, Joplin and Wilson Pickett.
Chances of induction: He should have been in already.