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Heavy Metal vs. The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

by St├ęphane Pelletier


The year 2000 is here my friends, and I would have thought that the critics would have learned to respect our genre of music.  But after the latest nominations to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, I think Ozzy was right: fuck'em.

This year, there could have been a lot of hard rock and metal bands eligible for nomination, but none were.  We only have to think about Aerosmith, one of the ten bands with the most albums sold in history, Queen, one of the major influences of British rock.  I know they weren't really metal, but they had a great influence on the glam rockers of the 80's.  Deep Purple, definitely a major influence, isn't even mentioned, nor are Kiss and Rush.  But the silliest thing thing the Hall Of Fame has done is to have excluded, for the last five years, one of the most important metal band ever: Black Sabbath.

This exclusion forces me to conclude that the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame's selection committee is biased.  It is made of old hippies who hate anything that appeared after the 60's and especially this genre of music called heavy metal.  I therefore accuse the committee of being a bunch of old stuck ups who only accept what they like.

But who am I to accuse people who have listened to rock 'n' roll and have had careers as critics?  I'm a little like them, a fan of rock music who did not have the privilege to work in the industry.  I have listened to all kinds of music, rock, punk, metal, soul, etc...  I've read about fifty books on the rock 'n' roll phenomenon.  I know by heart the career of artists such as Jim Morrison, Metallica, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Presley, Def Leppard, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones and many more, so I think I am well placed to criticize the choices made by the selection committee.

Although I like all types of music, the one I love the most is metal.  Why this type that some rock 'n' roll intellectuals hate so much?  Because I love this sentiment of rebellion expressed through this music, this same essence that Elvis represented in the 50's: a deranging anti-conformism.

The choices of the Hall Of Fame

This year, a lot of artists were nominated.  Many thought that Black Sabbath would finally get the place it deserves in the pantheon of the greatest rock stars.  But even before the final choices were announced, Black Sabbath's singer, Ozzy Osbourne, asked to be excluded from the Hall Of Fame.

Why this about-turn from Ozzy?  I think he was finally disgusted about the Hall Of Fame.  He sees in this pantheon a number of self-proclaimed experts who are only looking for personal gratification.  People full of themselves who think they are the real gurus of rock music.  People who work for renowned magazines such as Rolling Stone and Billboard, artists and people linked directly to the industry.

For Ozzy, the people who really know about music are the fans, the people who actually buy and listen to rock music, who go to concerts and follow the bands' histories.  He would have preferred a popular vote that follows the conditions for nomination to the Hall Of Fame rather than a gathering of  pseudo-intellectuals who only believe in their own personal vision of rock 'n' roll.

After Ozzy's remarks, a number of persons felt they were attacked personally.  Some members of the selection committee disapproved Ozzy.  As far as I'm concerned, their reaction was haughty and showed us what kind of pompous people we were dealing with.

In November, the names of the artists to be added to the Hall Of Fame in 2000 were revealed, namely:

I'd like to review each of these artists and show you that some of the choices are biased, that the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame only has interest in artists from the 60's, and that Ozzy was right in denouncing the Hall Of Fame.

Eric Clapton

A great artist, someone I see as one of the five best rock guitarists along with Hendrix, Page, Beck and Van Halen.  His musical career filled with torment and musical research is very well documented.  A career that spans four decades since his beginning with the Yardbirds,  then with the first power trio, Cream, which set the grounds for Led Zeppelin-style metal.  Then a sensational solo career, unfortunately with a lot of lows, a career filled with experimentation in blues in the 70's.  A little reggae here and there but also a ceaseless battle against heroin.  In the 80's, Clapton didn't offer much, and we had to wait for the 90's to see more remarkable material from him.

But how does he compare with hard rock artist who were not even in nomination?  Aerosmith has sold more albums than he did.  Queen has experimented as much has him with opera, hard rock and harmonies.  Deep Purple produced riffs that were as interesting, namely Smoke On The WaterBlack Sabbath created a new style by themselves.

But Clapton does deserve his place in the Hall Of Fame, the only thing I regret is that they're doing it this year.  Force is to say that this is his third nomination to the Hall Of Fame.  Cream and the Yardbirds have already been added, so he could very well have waited another year.

The Lovin' Spoonful

A band that enjoyed a limited success in the 60's.  A two-year career with a few hits and a single that made it to the top of the charts.  The band disapeared in 1967.

Why the Lovin' Spoonful before Black SabbathSabbath lasted more than three decades with some line-up changes.  They sold more albums, they invented heavy metal which later gave birth to grunge and some others.  The problem for the committee members has to be their style of music and the fact that they weren't born in the 60's.

Aerosmith is among the ten artists that sold the most albums ever, while The Lovin's Spoonful is not even in the first fifty.  Aerosmith has been playing for over three decades, they also have a number one song and more hits in the U.S. top ten.  Why exclude them?  The 60's of course, it's the only possible reason.

Queen sold more albums, has had more hits and inspired much more bands in a style while exploring other avenues for rock 'n' roll.  Deep Purple is also more important.  Smoke On The Water is practically an hymn, the riff is often one of the first played by beginning guitar players.  And let's not forget Kiss, Rush and Alice Cooper who changed the very way to give a rock concert.

So why the Lovin' Spoonful?  Simple, the committee members are still stuck in their damned sixties.  Following this logic, Debbie Boone will be in the Hall Of Fame in a few years.  Light Up My Life was the most played song in 1977.  But Debbie has mysteriously disappeared from the charts...

The Moonglows

I won't make any comparison in numbers here.  This band is only there as a soul influence in the 60's.  Their record sales do not even come close to the aforementioned bands.  But if they are there as an influence, where is Black Sabbath, a band which along with Led Zeppelin has defined the hard rock style?

I had to search to find information about the Moonglows.  My encyclopedias have little information on them, UBL.com has no site on them so...

James Taylor

Another refugee from the late 60's, but mostly from the early 70's.  He was the first artist signed under the Beatles' Apple label.  A great artist, but some of the artist I've already mentioned have sold more albums and lasted longer than he did.  James Taylor doesn't do sold-out shows anymore.  Aerosmith and Black Sabbath do not have this problem.  His career far exceeds the Moonglows and The Lovin' Spoonful in longevity, but he is far behind Aerosmith.

Bonnie Rait

This choice took me by surprise.  A great lady of blues and country in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame.  But after some thoughts, I think it is appropriate.  A long successful career that still goes on today, after more than three decades.  Of course, she hasn't sold as many albums as Queen, Aerosmith or Rush, but her success and her talent has to be recognized.  Bonnie played with the greatest and therefore deserves her place in the Hall Of Fame.

Conclusion

After this analysis, here are my choices for the Hall Of Fame:

As far as I'm concerned, The Lovin' Spoonful must only be considered as an influence.  An important band, but definitely not in the same category as the others.  The Moonglows will have their chance later.  Next year will be another big year for the Hall Of Fame.  More hard rock bands will be eligible for nomination.  We'll then be able to see whether or not the committee members are biased.

After having visited the Hall Of Fame, I decided to write my next article on this magnificent museum.  However are walls are filled with a rejection of heavy metal.  Until then, fuck the 60's because METAL RULES.





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