Lou Reed, Sting, The Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan… these are some of the names being considered for the honor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015.
In the music world, few things are as big as being nominated for induction. Of all musical acts, including early influences that predate rock and roll such as Louis Armstrong, The Ink Spots, bluegrass’s Bill Monroe, and so many other inspirations, only a handful are chosen for the honor of induction each year. It’s a tremendous show of respect that most artists take seriously, for themselves and for their fans. Rarely do inductees minimize the magnitude of the honor, though there are exceptions; Rush’s guitar god Alex Lifeson in 2013 decided to say “blah blah blah” for a full two and a half minutes in order to make a statement that induction was meaningless to him. At around the 20 second mark of the ‘speech’, you could begin to feel the discomfort of Lifeson’s colleagues behind him and the entire crowd of stars who expected better. One can only hope that Lifeson regretted his (likely drenched in alcohol) decision. Fortunately, most artists have proper respect for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their fans, as they should.
The standouts this year are Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. They are being considered for induction on their first year of eligibility. Nine Inch Nails’ debut album Pretty Hate Machine and Green Day’s 1,000 Hours were released 25 years ago – the minimum length of time between debut and nomination. It is rare for acts to be considered on their first year of eligibility, yet the authoritative reach of both groups has been overwhelming since they appeared on the music scene in the late 80s; Nine Inch Nails with the creation of the industrial rock uprising and Green Day with the reemergence and transformation of punk-infused rock. For both groups, follow-ups to their debuts put an exclamation point on their status as being undeniable influences on music that followed. Nine Inch Nail’s The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, and Green Day’s Dookie and American Idiot were proof that both acts were not of the now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t variety. Because of their undeniable critical acclaim and endurance, both Nine Inch Nails and Green Day are deserving of the immediate nominations, and it is expected by many that they will be inducted for the roles they have played in the world of music.
Not to be ignored, the list of nominees also includes Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Smiths, Bill Withers, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, N.W.A., Chic, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, and War. As Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Dylan said, “The highest purpose of art is to inspire”… all of the nominees have done just that. Each of them deserves the tribute to their work, but only a few will be inducted in April, 2015. It will be interesting to see who will have the honor of stepping onto that revered stage.