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Thoughts on 2017’s Rock Hall inductions

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Journey members Jonathan Cain, left, Ross Valory, center, Neal Schon and drummer Steve Smith perform at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The iconic band has been chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Journey members Jonathan Cain, left, Ross Valory, center, Neal Schon and drummer Steve Smith perform at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The iconic band has been chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (edge photo by Kevin Bennett)

Back in the Oct. 26 edition of The Maine Edge, I made a prediction about the 2017 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Out of 19 nominees selected, we were told that only five would actually be inducted during ceremonies next April. As it turns out, six names made the cut with a seventh added in a special category.

Regarding my own prognostication, I managed to select three inductees correctly while also suggesting two others who were ultimately selected.

The 2017 class of Rock Hall inductees will consist of Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes and Nile Rodgers.

Regarding Electric Light Orchestra, they were one of the nominees that I selected for “should be inducted” but I didn’t have confidence in the selection process that they would actually make the grade.

With ELO’s track record (13 albums and 20 top-40 hits) and the enduring quality of the music, they definitely belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What remains to be seen is whether or not drummer Bev Bevan will perform during the ceremony. Bevan and ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne had a falling out dating back to 1989 when Bevan launched (without Lynne who had dissolved the original band) ELO II. A bitter legal dispute followed with both sides barred from discussing details of the arrangement.

I didn’t see Joan Baez making the final cut and I guess that’s probably a little short-sighted on my part. Baez herself issued a statement stating that she has never seen herself as a rock and roll artist (she’s right), but she was part of a movement in the 1960s that made a seismic impact on the rock revolution – the folk music boom.

Add to that the probability that the Rock Hall will reach out to her former boyfriend (Bob Dylan) to give the induction speech and you have the makings of a memorable Hall of Fame moment. I’m guessing that Dylan will politely decline. After all, he can’t even be bothered to pick up his Nobel Prize for literature; why should he be expected to schmooze with a bunch of glitterati for an evening?

After ignoring Journey for the past 16 Hall of Fame inductions, the band will finally receive its due thanks to fans. The Rock Hall allowed fans to make their selections for a special fan vote. Journey overwhelmingly won that vote, insuring their induction. It’s about time.

Pearl Jam will be inducted in their first year of eligibility (25 years after the release of their first record). One of the most successful American bands of all time, Pearl Jam have truly embodied rock and roll’s ethos of rebellion and commitment while also honoring their fans with evolving set-lists and surprises. They definitely belong in the Hall and if I could make one more prediction, it would be that Neil Young will have the honor of inducting them.

Some people are shocked that Tupac Shakur was chosen for induction. Not to toot my own horn but this was an easy one to see coming. Rock and roll came from the blues. Muddy Waters told us that in “The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll.”

McKinley Morganfield was correct. Just as blues music spawned rock, rock spawned hip-hop and rap. To date, six hip-hop artists have been inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame and it should come as no surprise that one of the genre’s most celebrated artists should be one of them.

Yes were first eligible for induction in 1994 so this selection is not only overdue but also an indicator that the Hall of Fame has shifted somewhat regarding the recognition of progressive rock artists.

A few years back, when I interviewed James Henke, at that time the Rock Hall’s curator, he told me that he is personally a big fan of progressive rock and that it was painful for him to see that genre overlooked in the induction process each year.

Yes, perhaps the most celebrated of all prog-rock bands, definitely belong in the hall. Today, I will celebrate by listening to their recently reissued “Fragile” album, remixed for 5.1 surround sound on Blu-ray.

Chic is the most-nominated band in Rock Hall history without actually being inducted with 11 nominations. They didn’t make the cut this year, but the Rock Hall is giving Chic’s founder Nile Rodgers a consolation prize – induction in a special category – the Award For Musical Excellence. In the past, the Hall has given this award to Ringo Starr and producer Glyn Johns, among others.

Rodgers definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, not only as a musician but as a producer of such albums as “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, “Like a Virgin” by Madonna, “Family Style” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan, “Cosmic Thing” by The B-52’s, “Flash” by Jeff Beck and the track “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.

It’s a little perplexing that this special category was selected as a way to finally get Rodgers in the Hall - why not do it by simply inducting Chic? The celebrated dance/R&B band should not be considered “too disco” just as Tupac Shakur wasn’t considered to be “too rap.”  

I had earlier stated that The Zombies and The Cars (both nominated) should be in the Rock Hall but they didn’t make it this time. Here’s to next year and the power of that fan vote.

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