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Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris appraises 2021 class of inductees

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Now we wait for the party. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has released the long-awaited list of inductees for the class of 2021. According to rock hall president and CEO, Greg Harris, the 36th group of recruits is its most diverse to date.

The six names to be ushered into the hall under the performer category are Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, JAY-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner.

Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, and JAY-Z all appeared on the rock hall ballot for the first time. Harris said they are all deserving of induction.

“Everyone on this list belongs in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Harris said during an interview with The Maine Edge that aired on BIG 104 FM.

“Tina has already been inducted as a member of Ike and Tina Turner but she’s had an incredible solo career and she should be inducted for it,” Harris said.

Of singer-songwriter, and performer Carole King, Harris cited the vast influence she’s had on a diverse group of artists, including Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen.

“Carole King was inducted years ago with her former husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, but this time it’s for her solo career which has been hugely influential.”

Harris said he wasn’t sure if Foo Fighters, led by frontman Dave Grohl, would be inducted in their first year of eligibility (25 years after the release of their first record), but he’s glad that it happened.

“We’re thrilled that Dave went in with Nirvana as their drummer,” Harris said. “He’s a dynamo for sure. He played nearly everything you hear on that first Foo Fighters record and then put the band together. It will be great to welcome him into the hall a second time.”

The Go-Gos are the most successful all-woman rock band ever. Harris cited the group’s songwriting and musicianship as keys to their continuing influence.

“They had a bunch of hits, they wrote their own songs and played their own instruments,” Harris said of The Go-Gos. The group’s career has seen a resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to a Broadway musical (“Head Over Heels”) and a well-received Showtime documentary.

With his widespread influence over multiple genres and a shelf stacked with 22 Grammy Awards, JAY-Z’s induction into the hall was an inevitability, according to Harris.

“He’s the voice of a generation with a career that has been so impactful,” Harris said of media mogul JAY-Z, the artist with the most number one solo albums (14).

Artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Todd Rundgren has famously distanced himself from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years. “I’ve never cared about it, I’ve made no secret about that,” he told Fox News in 2019.

On his social media pages, Rundgren says he’s happy for his fans who’ve long demanded his induction, but does that mean he’ll actually show up in Cleveland to accept his award during ceremonies on October 30? Harris said we’ll have to wait.

“I’ll go back to when Rush was inducted (2013),” Harris said. “They were eligible for pretty much as long as Todd Rundgren was eligible. When they were finally inducted, they took the dais and said “You know, we’ve been saying all along this doesn’t really matter; it really does.”

Seven other figures will be inducted this year, including manager, label owner, and broadcaster Clarence Avant, recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, given to non-performing industry professionals.

“He’s been an incredibly important deal maker for many African American artists,” Harris said of Avant.

The Musical Excellence Award, given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers for impactful originality and influence, will be awarded to hip-hop legend LL Cool J, the late metal guitarist Randy Rhoads, and singer, songwriter, performer, and session man Billy Preston.

The Early Influence Award will go to German electronic music trailblazers Kraftwerk, poet, novelist, and musician Gil Scott-Heron, and delta blues pioneer Charley Patton.

Votes are cast by a body of more than 1,200 artists, including current living inductees, industry members and music historians. Factors taken into account include an artist’s influence on other artists, the length and depth of career, and innovation in style and technique.

Nearly 5 Million fans took part in the rock hall’s on-line fan vote this year, according to Harris. Three of the top five fan ballot artists will see induction, including Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, and Tina Turner, who received more fan votes than any other artist.

The induction ceremony and concert is scheduled for Saturday, October 30, at 8:00 p.m., at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The event will air on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max at a later date.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland has reopened to the public with health and safety precautions in place.

“It’s a blast to come to work every day, and it’s such an honor to be entrusted with preserving the history of this art form,” Harris said. “To me, this is the most important museum in the entire world. Every single person in our museum has a lifetime of memories tied to this music, and when they come in here, it comes alive.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 06:49

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