What would the annual announcement of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions be without the yearly round of arguments over who was robbed, and who should never be allowed to even set foot in the hallowed hall overlooking Lake Erie?
But a story in the Washington Times raises the argument into the stupefyin’ category, with an argument that the Rock Hall was biased against “rock,” and more specifically, music dear to “straight, white, working class men.”
Of course, the writer has a very specific (and narrow) view of what that demographic wants — Journey, Styx, Rush, Jethro Tull, Kiss, Ted Nugent, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kansas, etc. (Wait, Kansas?)
Of the Class of 2012 acts inducted: Guns ‘N Roses, Laura Nyro, Donovan, The Small Faces/Faces, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys, only Donovan deserved it, opines this fellow. (Interesting point, given his pro-rock sentiments…the hard rocking Guns ‘N Roses, no, not to mention the Faces, who sounded like a 747 had landed onstage in their prime, but folkie/flower child Donovan yes?)
One of the cornerstones of this argument is that it is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and all this R&B, soul, disco, reggae and rap keeps getting in, foisted upon us by an elite group of music writers bent upon instructing the unwashed masses.
Laura Nyro’s induction causes him more pain than most. How dare they put this “obscure” singer-songwriter in?
Here’s where ignorance of the past is a woeful thing. Because for the last 30-40 years music has been splintered into subcategories, many folks like this guy are of the opinion that “rock” consists nothing but long-haired white guys playing guitars.
It would be great if we could ask the late Vaughan about his blues influences. Rocker Nugent talks continually about how black music influenced his ouevre — and he’s right, there just is no separating rock from R&B or country or hillbilly or any of the disparate threads that came together to form one of America’s greatest legacies — our popular music. Just because radio programmers started slicing and dicing it decades ago into “formats” is no reason to forget how huge and diverse “rock” is, and should always be.
Let the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame be the big tent.