Hello, we are the American Rock Scene and we have had enough. For several years we have watched as you, the Rock and Roll hall of fame Foundation has made a mockery of the true spirit behind the establishment of a hall of fame.
(Ed. Note: It’s important to note that the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum and the hall of fame Foundation are separate entities. We’re not ragging on the museum here, just the Foundation)
Initially conceived as a platform to honor those whose contributions to rock music were so significant, that they deserved enshrinement and recognition, your little hall of fame has become a travesty. Therefore, on behalf of all fans of rock music, we at the American Rock Scene are revoking your privilege to use upper case H and F in hall of fame. We believe you no longer represent the true fans of rock music, a populist genre where pretension and elitism are not welcome and where every fan deserves a chance to weigh in on which band best represents the spirit of rock.
When the inaugural class of the hall was inducted in 1986, it seemed like such a good idea. The rules were simple.
“To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence. “We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.” - from http://rockhall.com/inductees/induction-process/.
That first class which included a slew of artists crucial to formation of the genre – Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, James Brown, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, Robert Johnson and Jerry Lee Lewis – bode well for the future of the hall.
With such a great start, and with great men such as Ahmet Ertegun, the original chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation (a separate entity than the actual Hall of Fame Museum – which gets to keep their upper case status), at the helm, we felt secure in the knowledge that true fans were driving this ship.
Now, 25 years later the dream has soured. Ertegun passed away in 2006 and was replaced by Rolling Stone editor and media mogul Jann Wenner. To date, 296 artists have been enshrined in the hall, including such questionable selections as ABBA, Miles Davis, Madonna, The Bee Gees. We won’t argue the values and influence of the aforementioned, but we will gladly debate their contributions to the rock genre all day long.
By watering down the genre with disco, jazz, and popular music selections, the hall has denigrated it’s purpose as The ROCK AND ROLL hall of fame.
This year’s nominees – which includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donna Summer, Eric B. and Rakim, Rufus with Chaka Khan and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – further concrete how far from the original vision the hall has traveled.
Add in the fact that many artists that have had far greater influence and impact on rock and roll – such as Rush, Bad Company, KISS, Deep Purple, Motorhead and Cheap Trick – are continually snubbed and the hall’s history of delaying induction to deserving artists, such as Black Sabbath’s exclusion for 11 years after they were eligible (they were finally inducted in 2006) and you can easily see why we’ve revoked the hall of fame’s privilege to use capital letters.
Is there anyone out there that can argue that ABBA or Joan Jett have influenced more bands than Motorhead, KISS or Rush?
The problem with the process lies in the snobbery of the cadre of rock insiders and critics who populate the hall’s Foundation nominating committee. We’re not sure if you’ve ever met a rock critic, (Ed. Note: not to be confused with the all-knowing scribes at ARS,) but they tend to be super-opinionated, blowhard, hacks who couldn’t cut it as musicians and were so scarred by being snubbed by girls who slept with real musicians that they devoted their life to taking it out on those musicians in print. (Ed. Note: Rethinking my previous note).
Although the Foundation nominating committee, shrouded in secrecy and ”composed of rock and roll historians”, according to the Foundation’s Web site, selects the performers to be nominated each year, they are no more qualified at this task than a pack of monkey’s are qualified to write Shakespeare.
With several of Wenner’s henchmen and former Rolling Stone employees on the board, such as Nathan Brackett, David Fricke, Jim Henke, Joe Levy, Brian Keizer, Toure, and Anthony DeCurtis the selection process has become a joke; another example of the coolest kids in school trying to dictate to everyone else what is cool.
Perhaps Peter Tork, a member of the Monkees (who have also not been inducted into the hall) put it best when he complained to the New York Post in 2007. “
[Wenner] “doesn’t care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don’t know whether The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not in there because of a personal whim. Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, ‘What’s the big deal? Everybody else does it.’ Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007.” (Ed. Note: The Monkees were initially formed for their television show and provided vocals but were not allowed to play instruments at first. The band later fought for and gained control of the music put out under the band’s name)
Regardless of whether you think the Monkees belong in the hall, (ED. Note: Umm, we’ll get back to you on this one) the fact remains that the selection process has been shanghaied. Granted, they do still make the occasion right decision, such as this year’s nominations of Heart and Guns and Roses, but the omissions have become so egregious that something must be done.
That’s why we at American Rock Scene have served notice to the hall’s selection committee that they are no longer allowed to use upper case H and F in their name, until the day they are willing to bestow the power of selection to the fans, the real power behind the continued popularity of the genre. We demand that our voice be heard.