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The rock hall class of 2019 – who should handle inductions?

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As the dust settles following last week’s official announcement regarding the 2019 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a few questions remain. Will they all show up to accept the honor? Which songs will be performed during the traditional post-ceremony jam?

And the big question: Which artists will be selected to introduce and wax poetic over each of the seven inductees? I have a few ideas.

The Cure – Robert Smith and company have given the world a wealth of brilliant music on 13 studio albums over the last four decades. Call it goth-pop, new-wave or alternative-rock, their musical inventiveness and cultural influence are undeniable. Personally, I fondly recall wearing out two cassettes of the band’s 1986 compilation “Standing on a Beach.” So who should have the honor of inducting The Cure? Instead of bringing up a younger artist influenced by the band (IE: Beck, although he would be great), I would like to see one of the band’s contemporaries like Michael Stipe of R.E.M usher the group into the hall.

Def Leppard – The fans have spoken and Def Leppard will finally be inducted into the rock hall thanks to more than a half million online fan votes. One of the biggest selling bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the group’s popularity has never waned. If I had a dollar for every time I received a request to play “Pour Some Sugar on Me” on the radio or at a wedding, I could treat you all to dinner. Who should induct Sheffield England’s favorite sons? I vote for Queen guitarist Brian May. A friend and contemporary of Def Leppard’s, May is certain to bring some humor to the proceedings while also driving home the point that the band unquestionably belongs in the hall with their heroes.

Janet Jackson – Eligible for induction since 2007, it was only a matter of time before Janet would be enshrined in the rock hall with her brothers. Frequently cited as an inspiration to countless women in music, the rock hall may be tempted to ask one of them to handle Jackson’s induction, but that honor should really go to producers and R&B innovators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Under their guidance, Jackson took charge of her musical destiny beginning with her 1986 album “Control” and most recently worked with the duo on 2015’s “Unbreakable.”

Stevie Nicks – First inducted into the rock hall in 1997 as a member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks will be the first female to be inducted twice when she enters the hall for her solo work. Who should induct her? Like Jackson, the rock hall will be tempted to ask a younger female artist known to have been influenced by Nicks (Taylor Swift anyone?) but I hope they reach out to Lindsey Buckingham for induction duties. It’s been less than a year since she had him axed from Fleetwood Mac – imagine the potential drama and fireworks. Since the band and Buckingham appear to have legally settled the matter, why not use Nicks’s induction as a fence-mender? It’s unlikely that his ego would allow him to induct his ex before his own solo career is considered and just as improbable that she would even show up if he did agree to it. Come on you guys, hug it out.

Radiohead – Their music is beautiful, haunting, opaque and mysterious. Whether you love them or continue to be baffled by their success, Radiohead deserves all the credit for doing it their way. They allowed their deal with EMI to expire and practically gave their next album away by allowing fans to name a price (including free). Who should stand up for the band on the night of their induction? Of course, we still don’t know if they’re going to actually show up, but I’d like to see pioneering musician and producer Brian Eno handle it. He’ll probably be in the room for Roxy Music’s induction and I can’t think of a better representative of Radiohead’s indie ethos and innovation.

Roxy Music – Hugely successful in the UK in the 1970s as a glam-rock band led by Bryan Ferry, it took most Americans a while to catch on to Roxy Music. The band’s 1979 album “Manifesto” did the trick here with the hit “Dance Away.” By 1982’s “Avalon” (featuring the single “More Than This”), they were done after a decade of cutting edge musical sophistication. My vote for inducting these trailblazers is the aforementioned Beck. At least the band’s equal when it comes to writing and recording innovative yet immediately accessible music, Beck is a formidable presence on the microphone. He’s funny, charming and just weird enough to make it work.

The Zombies – News of The Zombies’ induction into the rock hall made me happiest of all. A fan of the band since I was a tater tot up in Aroostook County, the band’s self-financed 1968 “Odessey and Oracle” gets my vote for the most criminally underrated album of the 1960s. When that album failed to catch on at the time of its release - despite an enormous sleeper of a hit single - The Zombies broke up the same year. True to their name, the band became undead and has been an exceptionally active touring and recording band for the last 20 years. For the group’s induction, there is no one better suited than musician, producer and author, Al Kooper. A young A&R exec for Columbia Records in 1968, Kooper brought “Odessey and Oracle” to America and insisted that his company release it, also urging them to issue “Time of the Season” as a single. When The Zombies take the stage for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 29, 2019, it will be 50 years to the day that “Time of the Season” was the #1 song in America.

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