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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris discusses the 2020 inductees

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris discusses the 2020 inductees (AP file photo)

According to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame president and CEO, Greg Harris, the 35th class to be inducted into the hall could be its most diverse yet.

The 2020 class of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced on January 15 and includes a classic California band, a hip-hop artist, an industrial rock band, a British synth-pop group, a glam-rock band and a vocal icon.

The new artists who will be inducted into the rock hall during ceremonies scheduled to take place in Cleveland on May 2 are The Doobie Brothers, Depeche Mode, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex.

Jon Landau, the music journalist who passionately opined in a 1974 concert review: “I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen,” and who later became Springsteen’s manager and producer, will be a recipient of the hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award, named after the legendary late cofounder and president of Atlantic Records. Entertainment executive Irving Azoff will also be inducted this year as an Ahmet Ertegun Award winner.

Just after The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class of inductees, I spoke with rock hall CEO Greg Harris to gauge his reaction to the list of inductees, one that came as a surprise to many fans of Dave Matthews and Pat Benatar, the top two artists from the hall’s online fan vote, both of whom were shut out this year. Harris says the rock hall values the fan vote component but that the final vote is weighted more toward an election by the artists’ peers.

The Maine Edge: Were there any surprises for you this year?

Greg Harris: I was a little surprised with how musically diverse the class is. We spread from industrial to synth-pop to open road California rock and roll with the Doobies, to glam-rock with T-Rex, and hip-hop, soul and R&B with Whitney. Having four inductees who’d never been nominated in the past is pretty interesting. We congratulate all of our inductees and all of the nominees, even those that didn’t garner the votes for induction.

The Maine Edge: Dave Matthews and Pat Benatar were the top two artists from the online fan vote, yet neither will be inducted this year. Could you explain that to the fans, many of whom voted daily?

Greg Harris: Both Dave Matthews and Pat Benatar are so popular and so connected with their fans, I’m sure we’ll see them again. The industry vote is made up of more than 1,000 voters, many of whom are already inductees. The industry vote is what ultimately determines election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and these were the top six vote getters. The fan vote does count toward that but it’s more heavily weighted toward an election by your peers – people in the industry who are writers, historians and fellow musicians. We appreciate the fans who are sharing their passion and are voicing it publicly. That does help the cause.

The Maine Edge: I would never begrudge an artist’s induction into the hall, regardless of genre. It’s a great honor for any artist to be nominated or inducted, but how do you respond to fans who ask how a hip-hop or rap artist like The Notorious B.I.G. gets the nod before their favorite artist gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Greg Harris: There are millions of people that make music and to be part of the 16 who get nominated is massive. Once the list of nominees goes out to the voting body, they’re looking at the ones they feel are the most impactful, influential, and took the art form in a new direction. In this instance, these are the six names they selected. One could speculate maybe they were weighing T-Rex against a Motorhead. Or they were weighing T-Rex against Judas Priest, and decided to throw their vote behind T-Rex. Let’s look ahead to next year and see where it lands.

The Maine Edge: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building in Cleveland must be the greatest collection of rock and roll treasures and memorabilia ever assembled. What are some of your personal favorite rock artifacts to be found in there?

Greg Harris: I know people in Maine are travelers, so gas up the car and come on out. We have six floors containing the history of rock and roll, and some of its most incredible and iconic artifacts.

I’m a big fan of The Clash and we have one of Joe Strummer’s guitars. We have Bruce Springsteen’s guitar that he used to record “Born to Run.” We have John Lennon’s guitar from The Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.

We also have something special for musicians in the museum called “The Garage,” where you can jam with fellow visitors. You can put a Fender Telecaster around your neck and just crank it with other people visiting the hall. Two members of the band Metallica were here two weeks ago jamming with visitors. This place is alive and it’s pretty special.

(The 35th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 2, at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. The ceremony will air live for the first time on HBO, beginning at 8:00 pm. Tickets go on sale to the general public on February 27 at www.Ticketmaster.com.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 08:53

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