Thanks to Billboard for reporting this story first: 16 of the 42 members of the nominating committee have been dismissed. Most or all of them have been there a long time and represent the bloc of voters who still lobby for early rock and R&B pioneers who’ve been overlooked or purposely dismissed out of hand for induction.
Among those artists would be people like Chubby Checker and the late Billy Preston, as well as Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas and many artists from Stax Records.
I’m hearing that among those gone are famed publicist Bob Merlis, record exec and soul music specialist Joe McEwen, former Rolling Stone editor Joe Levy, etc.
I reported in January 2010 that Jann Wenner, who runs the Rock Hall, wanted to cut the eligibility time down from 25 to 20 years. The reason was that to sell the Rock Hall induction ceremony as a TV show to HBO, Wenner needed stars, not old or dead actual founders of rock.
Replacing nominators with younger people who have no attachment or feel for rock origins, and moving up the eligibility means Wenner can continue to skip over acts he doesn’t like and move on to more recent stars.
But there are plenty of artists not in the Rock Hall with lots to gripe about. J. Geils Band and Peter Wolf are an example. So are Chicago, the Moody Blues, Carly Simon all glaring omissions. And there are problems with Bon Jovi, whom Wenner has kept out, and Sting, whose solo career is now five times as long as the one he had with the Police. Nile Rodgers and Chic still aren’t in, neither are The Cars. Motown’s Marvellettes, and Mary Wells, Todd Rundgren, and many others.
The Rock Hall already is jeered by real rock fans. I’ve written about their financial situation for years– millions in the bank, no help to indigent musicians. The CEO gets $400,000 a year, etc.
Wenner may urge his new nominators to make the five year jump now simply because the crop of acts that are eligible in the next round aren’t that interesting. Smashing Pumpkins? A Tribe Called Quest? I don’t see it. You have to go to the next year to get Pearl Jam and Alannis Morissette. If he moves the full years up, Radiohead and Beck are actually eligible. And out the window would go the long list of real rock pioneers and influencers.
There’s also a theory that Wenner will now try to force in groups like Journey or Kansas so that the HBO show turns into 80s nostalgia.