Pop-Ed: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees 2013

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Today saw the announcement of the nominees for the 2014 Rock and Hall of Fame class and its safe to say its a mixture of head turners and over due realizations. In my opinion most awards and honors are pointless in the world of popular culture and honor should be instilled in legacy. However we as Americans love pageantry and I’m glad the government shutdown hasn’t affected that. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions have always been the most divided being based on the opinions and voting of “rock historians” and recently, fans. A lot of it comes down to ones personal taste and even for me there are a number of artists who have yet to be even put on the ballot (Big Star, Badfinger, most of the Power Pop generation). It’s not something to normally get too wrapped up in but we love competition.

Peter Gabriel at Madison Square Garden "So" Tour; 02 December 1986
Peter Gabriel at Madison Square Garden “So” Tour; 02 December 1986

The nominees for the 2014 Hall of Fame class are an interesting mix of artists that brings into question what constitutes being honored by the hall of fame. Some are overdue while others are questionable at best but this year has more to offer than usual. The deciding votes will be announced in January with the ceremony to follow in the spring but if I were a betting man (I’m not. I don’t want to lose my thumbs, ears, or other questionable body parts)I would lock eyes onto the following 5 nominees:

Nirvana- Anytime a high profile and highly influential act gets nominated its first year out they are almost a lock to headline the event. Both U2 and Guns N’ Roses are famous examples of that and people have been waiting ages for the Seattle trio (quartet if you count Pat Smear) to get the wave in. Obviously lacking Kurt Cobain a full blown reunion performance can’t happen so other musicians will be substituted no doubt. Let’s start putting money down on whether we get Paul McCartney fronting a performance again or a hologram Kurt Cobain although even for a hologram that may be too corporate for him.

Peter Gabriel- Having not attended the induction of the band that made him famous, Genesis, in 2010 it’s possible we will see Mr. Gabriel appear if he is inducted and it’s more than possible. Gabriel’s solo work has always been highly praised with him hitting his commercial peak with 1986’s So (Lloyd Dobler owes a lot to him for “In Your Eyes”). He has been a critical favorite over the years so I wouldn’t be too surprised if his induction comes sooner rather than later.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons - Kiss Reunion Tour, all original members 1996.
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – Kiss Reunion Tour, all original members 1996.

LL Cool J/ Linda Ronstadt- I’m rather undecided here and the only reason these two are tied is because either one could be placed here for different reasons. As the past 5 years have shown an influential hip hop artist has always been inducted and LL Cool J has been put on the ballot several times over the past few years. Eventually the hall will have to give in and induct the NCIS: LA star and it’s possible as always that this year will see that. Ronstadt on the other hand is a staple of country and rock music and considering her recent retirement due to Parkinson’s disease it would be a fitting honor at the tail end of a storied career. Of the two Ronstadt has the longevity of her legacy but so does Cool J so it’s very hard to determine which I see happening. Hell, it could be neither one.

Chic- The famed disco/soul/funk group has been eligible and on the ballot for awhile but 2013 has seen co founder Nile Rodgers receive immense recognition thanks to his work on Daft Punk’s latest record. What better way to cap off the year then with an induction of the band that helped showcase the famed musician/producer’s skills early on and a force that changed the landscape of disco which up until that point was one dimensional and panned greatly.

The Zombies- Having stirred controversy in 2008 when the Dave Clark Five were snubbed in favor of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five despite having the votes the Hall has been pretty prone to inducting British invasion acts since. Both the DC5 and the Hollies were bestowed honors in the past four years and the Zombies would be a welcomed edition. For one thing the bulk of the band’s lineup is still alive and performing (the surviving members toured the UK a few years ago and key members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent still perform under the Zombies name). More importantly they are a representation of both the invasion and the spirit of the late 60s thanks in part to their classic 1969 hit “Time of the Seasons.”

The Zombies at the Union County Arts Festival - Clark, NJ 2010.
The Zombies at the Union County Arts Festival – Clark, NJ 2010.

While I stand by my predictions you can’t second guess the potential of this bunch and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few artists become the monkey wrenches of the 2014 class in particular Hall & Oates and N.W.A both of which have enough clout to replace any of the ones I mentioned above. Other acts like Cat Stevens, Deep Purple, and Yes seem the less likely although they will no doubt see recognition down the road.

When it comes to Kiss I’m rather 50/50 on what will happen. Its known that the Kiss army is bothered at their not being included on the ballots over the years and finally they got their wish but that doesn’t mean much. The make-up donning quartet have influenced numerous hard rock icons and have been the epitome of how to sell a band like Disney but musically it’s hard to measure up to other nominees. Before fake blood is thrown on me I’m a devout Kiss fan who has listened to every record but it just doesn’t seem likely. Again prove me wrong but regardless this should be an interesting year.

There are many artists who still have never made the ballot for unknown reasons and that still sucks but to see the likes of The Replacements up their nominated against acts like Nirvana and Chic is great to see. It’s not overly progressive per say but hey it’s rock and roll.

Special Thanks to Mike Black of Mike Black Photography for providing the photos for these stories. To view more of Mike’s work, click here.