This years’ Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I know I normally don’t get political in this arena, and that PNR is supposed to be movies, but I have to speak out on this.

The nominee list for the 2008 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees was released over the weekend. The names on that list are, in a word, STUNNING:

The Ventures
Donna Summer
Afrika Bambaataa
John Mellencamp
The Dave Clark Five
Leonard Cohen
Beastie Boys

Excuse me, WHAT?  Jann Wenner and his cronies are KIDDING, right?

No they’re not. And that’s what’s frightening….

I admit that the Dave Clark Five should have been in long ago. They WOULD have been inducted last year, except that Wenner decided, on his own, that Grandmaster Flash was more deserving because the RRHF had yet to induct a single rap artist. He then ordered a new vote, and skewed the vote so that Grandmaster Flash beat out the DC5 for a place in the Hall.

In another word, DISGRACEFUL.

Not to say Grandmaster Flash shouldn’t be in the Hall – he definately should, but NOT until MANY other influencial artists are inducted.

Of the above list, only The Ventures (eligible 1985) and Leonard Cohen (eligible 1993) (though I personally can’t stand the latter) are truly deserving right now; both should have been inducted years ago, the minute they were eligible.  I could make cases in favor of Donna Summer, John Mellencamp, Chic, and The Beastie Boys as well, but I won’t – the way this year’s ballot is set up, Mellencamp and the Beasties are almost guaranteed entry this year.

But COME ON – MADONNA? Afrika Bambaataa? Give me a break!  The Hall is supposed to recognize honest contributions to the art form that is Rock and Roll music. Madonna is a competent artist, and a decent songwriter, but she’s not yet convinced me she deserves a spot in the Hall. And Bambaataa’s influence on today’s hip-hop scene is undeniable, but again, i’m not convinced that he belongs in the Hall at this time.

Submitted for your approval – a partial list of those who have been eligible for YEARS and haven’t really had a shot at getting in, and why they SHOULD be in the Hall…

Pat Boone, eligible 1980 – his recordings, while some considered them bland, helped make what was then called "race music" palatable to middle class white audiences. His covers of hits by Fats Domino and others helped pave the way for the artists to make the transition to rock and roll fame as well.

Herbie Hancock, eligible 1981 – one of the most influencial musicians of his generation. A groundbreaker in the field of jazz fusion, a pioneer in the field of music videos, and one of the most rhythm-centric songwriters and performers of all time.

Danny And The Juniors, eligible 1982 – one of the early rock and roll pioneers, their "At The Hop" was an instant classic, and their library of hits in the 50’s are all classics.

Paul Anka, eligible 1983 – Anka is one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, with well over 500 songs to his credit, and that doesn’t include his qualifications as a performer, with a string of hit records that stretched well into the 1980s. He remains one of the most popular performers around the world.

Connie Francis, eligible 1983 – the first female superstar of the rock and roll generation, Francis scored with over two dozen hits in the fifties and sixties, and her music was influencial on many generations to come.

Neil Sedaka, eligible 1984 – two distinct eras for his career – his early days as a pop singer/songwriter, then best known for a dozen years as a songwriter, before returning to the top of the charts in the 70s for another successful run. Like Anka, his songs have been recorded by hundreds of people over the years – I can think of at least 10 different artists off the top of my head who have recorded "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" over the years, and it was a hit for him TWICE as well. Sedaka songs were a radio staple for over 20 years.

Carole King, eligible 1984 – It is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE that King has continued to be snubbed by the Hall. As both singer and songwriter, her influence on pop music from 1960 on is undeniable, and it was the music from her album TAPESTRY that was covered by artists in a tribute album in the mid-90s (along with "If I were A Carpenter", see below) that launched the whole "Tribute" album craze that shows no signs of abating. Carole deserves to be in the hall on sheer volume, both alone and with partners she has written well over 500 songs that have been recorded by dozens of artists since her days in New York in the late 50s.

Cliff Richard And The Shadows, eligible 1985 – Richard has never been a hugely popular recording act in the US, and that’s a shame – but worldwide he rivals Elvis and The Beatles in terms of overall sales. A star in his native UK since the 50s, and still today looking at least 20 years younger than his 70+ years, Richard is one of the true glaring omissions of the hall to date.

There are literally DOZENS more of deserving folks from the early days of Rock and Roll. And Keep in mind, this whole list above has been eligible for MORE THAN 20 YEARS!!!

Then there are the more recent acts who are being slighted and who should have been included a long time ago, including:

The Carpenters, eligible 1994 – you can pooh pooh their soft, early 70s MOR-sound all you like, but Karen and Richard Carpenter’s influence on pop music continues to permeate music to this day – anytime you listen to Celine Dion, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, or even acts like Matthew Sweet and Sonic Youth, remember that they’ve ALL named the brother and sister from Downey California as one of their influences at one time or another.

Cat Stevens, eligible 1991 – another influencial singer/songwriter who’s musical twists and turns continue to influence today’s musicians. ALthough he’s been inactive from the mid-70s until just a few months ago, his songs continue to sound around the world as timeless tunes that new listeners would have a difficult time recognizing as being recorded in the early 70s.

Alice Cooper, eligible 1994 – although today he’s more concerned with his golf game, Cooper is one of the most influencial acts of the rock generation. His music inspired many early glam and goth musicians, and his live act was one of the most controversal and successful acts of the 1970s. He’s remained an active musician, he continues to sell well, and his catalog of classic songs continue to influence a new generation of hard rock afficiados.

Def Leppard, eligible 2004 – Yes, I suppose they COULD wait a few more years…but they’re my favorite rock act of all time, so sue me….PLUS, they have the biggest selling heavy metal album of all time in Hysteria, which is at least 3 million in sales ahead of Welcome To The Jungle, and Guns N Roses isn’t eligible until 2011. And UNLIKE GNR, Da Leps continue to pursue new sounds and continue to evolve with each passing release. And while a five year gap between Hysteria and Adrenalize might have been hard for its fans, it’s NOTHING compared to the now 14 year wait between The Spaghetti Incident and the still to materialize Chinese Democracy…

I’ve left out dozens and dozens of deserving eligible acts from Ella Fitzgerald to John Denver to Dick Dale, Billy Preston, and Dionne Warwick, but you get the idea i’m sure…

A complete list of eligible nominees can be found here. And when you look at it, you’ll be APPALLED at this years’ proposed class…

FoxNews.Com columnist Roger Friedman is proposing a boycott of Rolling Stone magazine until Wenner and his cabal get it through their heads that things need to be straightened out. I will be supporting that boycott, and I urge you to do the same.