WISCONSINREPORT.COM (10/15/2010) - The question for today is, how can the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pick 2011 inductees from the fabulous list of nominees? The nominee list includes Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, Tom Waits, and Chuck Willis. A select group of 500 voters get to select the artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 26th Annual Induction Ceremony.
The 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will be announced in December 2010 and the Induction Ceremony will take place on March 14, 2011 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be televised live on Fuse, Madison Square Garden’s national music television network.
To be eligible for nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an act must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2011 Nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1985.
“We believe our nominating committee has put forth a list of artists that truly represent the wide variety of music that defines rock and roll,” commented Joel Peresman, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
All inductees are ultimately represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, the nonprofit organization that exists to educate its audiences on the global impact of the rock and roll art form via the museum, as well as its education programs and library and archives.
Before there was Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson or KISS, there was Alice Cooper, the original self-proclaimed “rock villain.” The Cooper band pioneered the dark spectacle of heavy metal with their huge blues-rock sound and extravagant stage show. Hits include “Eighteen,” “School's Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” They influenced bands from the Sex Pistols to Guns n’ Roses.
At different times over the past three decades, the Beastie Boys have been shaven-head punks, hip-hop bad boys, Seventies-funk students, political activists and style icons. Most important: they have had one of the richest, most important careers in hip-hop and rock, introducing rap to a huge new audience and then pushing the frontiers of what a hip-hop group could do. Their 1986 debut album Licensed To Ill was hip-hop's first number one album, and remains near the top of the Billboard catalog charts to this day. The single “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party),” became a teenage party anthem of the 1980s.
Hard-working musicians and prolific songwriters from blue-collar backgrounds in New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres and Alec John Such created a dedicated global following that spans every continent. Their familiar songs: “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There for You” in the 80s; “Blaze of Glory,” “Bed of Roses” and “Always” in the ’90s; “It’s My Life,” “Have A Nice Day,” the Grammy-winning “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “We Weren’t Born to Follow” in the 2000s. Over 120 million albums sold (more than 34 platinum titles cumulative in the U.S. alone), more than 2,600 concerts performed in over 50 countries for more than 34 million fans. Bon Jovi influenced on innumerable young bands seeking to follow in their footsteps.
This band pushed disco forward in 1977 with a combination of groove, soul and distinctly New York City studio smarts. Out-of-the-box chart smashes “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” the #1 “Le Freak” and #1 “Good Times” (ranked on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Singles of All Time) made Chic the preeminent disco band – emphasis on the word ‘band’ – of the late ’70s. Their music also extended disco’s tenure at a critical moment, as hip-hop (and later in the ’80s, New Jack Swing) began to take the stage. Over the years, artists such as Sugar Hill Gang and Diddy have turned to Chic for beats and samples: “Good Times” has been checked everywhere from “Rapper’s Delight” and Blondie’s “Rapture,” to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Neil Diamond’s half-century as a prolific singer, songwriter, recording artist (nearly four decades on Columbia Records) is one of the eternal verities of American popular music. “I’m a Believer” was grabbed up for the Monkees, who turned it into the top song of 1966 (followed three months later by their take on Neil’s “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”). Diamond rocked the Hot 100 in 1966 with “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry,” followed in ’67 by “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Thank the Lord for the Night Time” and “Kentucky Woman” (a Top 40 hit for Deep Purple in ’68). Produced by Brill-mates Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, these acoustic-guitar-driven rock and roll songs were the first notches in Neil’s singles discography. There are more than 70 U.S. chart entries to date including “Sweet Caroline,” “Holly Holy” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” (along with some 48 charted albums).
The first British folk troubadour who truly captured the imaginations of early Beatles-era fans on both sides of the Atlantic, Donovan Leitch made the transition from a scruffy blue-jeaned busker into a brocaded hippie traveler on Trans Love Airways. His classics: “Catch the Wind,” “Colours,” Buffy Ste.-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” “To Try for the Sun”, “Sunshine Superman” was released that summer of ’66 (and the LP of the same name with “Season of the Witch”). Donovan’s final Top 40 hit with Most was “Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)” in the summer ’69, backed by the Jeff Beck Group.
New Orleans own Dr. John has been recording for more than fifty years. He is steeped in the rhythms and traditions of the city, and has spent his career championing its music. He began recording in 1957; between 1956-1963, more than 50 of his songs were recorded in New Orleans. His first album as Dr. John, Gris-Gris, was a masterpiece, evoking voodoo legends over a funky mix. In the first half of the 1970s, he released a series of albums that mixed New Orleans classics with his own original material, all driven by his remarkable piano playing and great bands, most notably his collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters on “Right Place, Wrong Time,” a smash funk hit. He has produced albums for Professor Longhair and Van Morrison, collaborated with Doc Pomus on a group of songs recorded by B.B. King on There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981), and released several acclaimed solo piano records.
J. GEILS BAND
Four decades after releasing one of rock’s supremely hard-driving debut LPs, and nearly three decades after the splintering of the group in the early ’80s, the J. Geils Band reunited in the summer 2010, for a historic homecoming date at Boston’s Fenway Park with fellow bad boys Aerosmith. Rolling Stone called it “the ultimate Boston experience” as prayers for a full-blown Geils reunion went skyward. Because every time the J. Geils Band takes the stage, there is never any doubt: they are there to blow your face out. Packed fair and square with equal parts Chicago blues, big-city rock, and gutbucket funk, they deftly mix R&B covers with joyous originals by Wolf-Justman and the enigmatic Juke Joint Jimmy (their Nanker Phelge). To eyewitnesses and true believers, it never gets any hotter than the J. Geils Band layin’ their good thing down.
L L COOL J
LL Cool J always had his sights set on rock and roll. His first two singles, “I Need a Beat” followed by “I Want You”, sketched out the two main gears of his career: testosterone-maddened battle raps and tender, sexy love songs. The former included “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (1985), “Jack the Ripper” (1987) and “Mama Said Knock You Out” (1991). The stylish aggression built into these songs influenced no less a figure than Michael Jackson, who cut “Bad” after meeting LL in person – and after LL himself cut “I’m Bad.” The love songs may have been even more influential and popular. When “I Need Love” went to Number One on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in 1987, it was the first rap recording ever to reach that summit.
Darlene Love was a high school sophomore in California with a powerful church choir voice when she joined the popular girl group the Blossoms as their first lead singer in 1958. They shot to immortality in 1962, when producer Phil Spector used them as surrogates on his new Crystals’ singles. With “He’s a Rebel” and “He’s Sure The Boy I Love,” Darlene Love turned into a familiar (though uncredited) voice on radio and records; she also became a member of Spector’s Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Darlene’s own 1963 hits made her a household name, “(Today I Met )The Boy I'm Gonna Marry,” “Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home,” “A Fine Fine Boy,” “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. Darlene’s annual wall-of-sound performance of the song (with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra) on David Letterman’s final pre-Christmas-hiatus show has became a high point of the season.
Bronx-born singer, songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro (1947-1997) was still a teenager in 1966 when she recorded her debut album, and Peter, Paul and Mary cut “And When I Die.” At age 19, Laura played the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Other artists scored hit after hit with her songs, led by the Fifth Dimension’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Sweet Blindness” in 1968 (then “Wedding Bell Blues” in ’69 and “Blowin' Away” in ’70). Over two consecutive weeks in October 1969, Blood, Sweat and Tears entered the Hot 100 with “And When I Die,” and Three Dog Night followed with “Eli's Coming.” In 1970-71, Barbra Streisand charted three consecutive times with Laura Nyro songs, “Stoney End,” “Time and Love” and “Flim Flam Man.” Laura’s tragic death of ovarian cancer at age 49 robbed popular music of one of its purest lights.
Raised on gospel music in the church, her “Love to Love You Baby” was Summer’s U.S. chart debut and first of 19 Number 1 Dance hits between 1975 and 2008 (second only to Madonna). Summer made chart history in 1978-80, as the only artist who ever had three consecutive double-LPs hit Number 1: Live and More, Bad Girls, and On the Radio. She was also the first female artist with four Number 1 singles in a 13-month period: “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls” and “No More Tears” (with Barbra Streisand). “She Works Hard for the Money” kept Donna on top in 1983, followed by the Top 10 “This Time I Know It’s For Real” in ’89.
Joseph Arrington Jr. (1933-1982) was born in East Texas and laid to rest there 49 years later. He had a glorious career that began with him singing gospel in church, and led to him winning a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem in 1954. As a songwriter, he hit it when James Brown covered his “Baby You’re Right” in 1961 and took it to Number 2. His own recording of “Hold What You’ve Got” became the first Southern soul 45 out of Fame to hit Number 1 R&B and Top 10 pop. At age 31, Joe became a hit machine, with more than two dozen consecutive R&B/pop crossovers on Dial Records through the early ’70s. Many of them became grist for young rockers (the Animals’ cover of “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”). Joe’s music was also a building block of Jamaican toasters and early hip-hop. In 1972 Joe Tex scored his final Number 1 with the rude “I Gotcha”, though he encored five years later with “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman).” When Joe Tex died in 1982, his pallbearers were fellow Soul Clan brothers Wilson Pickett, Don Covay and Ben E. King, along with Killen and Percy Mayfield.
Only one songwriter could be covered by the Ramones (“I Don’t Want to Grow Up”) and the Eagles (“Old 55”). Beginning with his first album in 1973, Tom Waits has carved out a unique place in rock & roll. His music mixes Chicago blues, parlor ballads, beat poetry, pulp fiction parlance and , when you least expected it, heart-breaking tenderness. His songs have been covered by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Solomon Burke, Marianne Faithful, the Neville Brothers, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and the Blind Boys of Alabama. He has recorded with the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, the Replacements and Roy Orbison. His compositions have been recorded by Bruce Springsteen (“Jersey Girl”), Tim Buckley (“Martha”), Johnny Cash (“Down By the Train”), Bob Seger (“16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six”), T-Bone Burnett (“Time”), Tori Amos (“Time”), Steve Earle (“Way Down In The Hole”), Elvis Costello (“Innocent When You Dream”) and Rod Stewart (“Downtown Train”).
In his signature turban, Chuck Willis (1928-1958), an earthy singer and songwriter from Atlanta, has influenced every generation from Elvis Presley to Kanye West. Willis earned his sobriquet “The King of the Stroll” in 1957, for the popular teen-age line-dance that was directly inspired by his Number 1 R&B adaptation of Ma Rainey’s “C.C. Rider,” a folk-blues standard. A natural born shouter and smooth ballad singer, Willis first made the R&B charts with a two-year string of Top 10 hits on Columbia’s OKeh Records label, starting in 1952. The last of these, “I Feel So Bad” was an Elvis favorite cut by him in 1961. Willis cut many R&B/pop crossover hits and rock and roll at its finest from 1956 to ’58: “It’s Too Late” (covered by everyone from Buddy Holly and Otis Redding, to Derek and the Dominos), “What Am I Living For” (immortalized by Ray Charles, the Animals and many more) and “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes” (also recrded by Jerry Lee Lewis, the Band and countless others). If not for his death in 1958 at age 30, who knows how far Chuck Willis’ star would have risen.
Who would you choose to be inducted among the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees?
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