The Rock and Roll Hall of Shame show is set for April 8th in Brooklyn at the Barclay’s Center. The inductees are Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller Band, and Cheap Trick. NWA, the rap group that spawned Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, and became the story of “Straight Outta Compton,” will be the sole nod to diversity.
This year’s ceremony will exclude women, classic R&B, country, sidemen and women (instrumentalists), famed producers. The sole extra award will go to the late Bert Berns, founder of Bang Records, a controversial figure who was involved with both Janis Joplin and Atlantic Records. A musical based on Berns’ life, “Piece of My Heart,” played off Broadway last year and is possibly headed to Broadway this fall.
The irony is that Berns will get the Ahmet Ertegun Award, name for the co-founder of Atlantic Records. The Berns musical casts Ertegun and Jerry Wexler as villains in Berns’s life story. (A friend of Berns’ told me today, “Bert Berns’ biggest enemy was himself.”)
There will be no one in the Early Influencers category, and no sidemen/sidewomen. No classic R&B or doo wop. No country influences. The Hall is already promoting Kendrick Lamar as a presenter, simply to have a black name artist for their HBO special.
But mostly, this is a very white Rock Hall induction. Another irony: the show is coming the Barclays, which was really a passion project of Jay Z.
So many great artists remain out in the cold– from Nile Rodgers to Chubby Checker, Joe Tex, Mary Wells, Billy Preston, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and so on. There’s also The Moody Blues, Carly Simon, Roxy Music (and Bryan Ferry), a slew of groups from the 70s, real pioneers like Faye Adams, and so on– all missing.
But when Ahmet Ertegun died, all control of the Hall was left to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. As one observer told me recently, “Once Ahmet died, the Hall became the Jann Wenner dog and pony show.”