Hard-rock legends Aerosmith and Queen, pop king Michael Jackson and
sophisticated New York songsmiths Paul Simon and Steely Dan will be
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year, the hall
announced Tuesday (Dec. 12).
The 2001 inductions will be déjà vu for Jackson,
who was inducted with his family band, the Jackson 5, in 1997, and
Simon, who entered the hall as half of the folk-pop duo Simon and
Garfunkel in 1990.
Legendary soulman Solomon Burke, doo-wop institution the Flamingos and
“La Bamba” singer Ritchie Valens also will be inducted next year.
“I am thrilled and humbled,” Jackson said in a statement Tuesday night. “I could not ask to be in better company than the list of fellow inductees. Each and every one is a master from whom I have learned.”
It’s been a long wait for Aerosmith and Queen. Both were passed over for nomination in 1998, when they were first eligible, and both failed to get enough votes after being nominated last year.
Most of the other nominees have been passed over by Rock Hall voters
before, as well. Only Jackson and Simon were on the ballot for the first time this year.
Of this year’s list of 16 nominees, those who failed to make the cut
included rocker Patti Smith — the first member of the 1970s punk
scene to make the ballot — and veteran rockers Bob Seger, AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lou Reed and the New York Dolls, two crucial artists in the development of post-’60s rock and roll, also missed induction.
Black Sabbath were passed over again, although Sabbath’s singer Ozzy
Osbourne isn’t likely to complain, since he has blasted the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame for what he considered its elitist voting roster.
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after their first album
is released. More than 800 artists, producers, journalists and other
music-industry insiders voted on the nominees.
Aerosmith blew out of Boston in 1973 with the prototypical power ballad “Dream On” and in the 27 years since have become arguably the
preeminent American hard-rock band. Singer Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer persisted through drug addiction and changing trends in the music world, waxing classic rock and roll tunes, such as 1975’s “Walk This Way” and 1987’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” (RealAudio excerpt). In recent years, they’ve enjoyed pop success as well. (Also Tuesday, it was announced that Aerosmith will receive the American Music Award of Achievement at the American Music Awards on January 21, joining such previous winners as Michael Jackson, Prince and Mariah Carey.)
Queen were prime exponents of glam rock. The British band joined florid orchestration and a flair for expansive melody to muscular hard rock. Guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor recorded such tracks as the operatic 1975 “Bohemian Rhapsody” and 1980’s disco-influenced #1 hit “Another One Bites the Dust” with flamboyant singer Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991.
Bill Flanagan, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voter who is editorial
director of VH1, said it wasn’t surprising that Aerosmith and Queen, who have endured contempt from rock critics, had to wait a few years for their induction.
“If you look through rock magazines in the 1970s, [Led] Zeppelin and
even [David] Bowie were held in contempt, as commercial sell-out crap,” Flanagan said. “But in fact that stuff turned to be the stuff of lasting influence.
“There are certain people, whether it was Aerosmith or Queen or the Bee Gees, where they make them wait a few years,” he continued. “Probably because people don’t think they’re cool enough. Maybe the critical bloc sits on them.”
Aside from being one of the most famous persons on the planet for some
20 years, Jackson’s musical achievements are unquestionable. From his
days with his brothers in the Jackson 5 to 1979’s innovative dance floor manifesto Off the Wall to the pop culture phenomenon of 1982’s
Thriller, featuring such monster hits as “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” he revolutionized the role of the pop star.
Paul Simon — immediately after dissolving his vastly popular
partnership with Art Garfunkel in 1970 — became the model for
sophisticated singer/songwriters to come, penning such tunes as 1972’s
“Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and the 1975 chart-topper “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” He changed course, to great acclaim, with the 1986 album Graceland, on which he customized the township jive sound of South Africa. His unsuccessful venture into musical theatre was documented on 1997’s Songs From the Capeman, and his current LP,
You’re the One, includes the poignant “Darling Lorraine.”
From 1973’s Can’t Buy a Thrill to 2000’s Two Against Nature — with more than a decade off in between — Steely Dan have essentially been the songwriting, producing and arranging province of singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen and bassist/guitarist Walter Becker. The pair have brought exacting studio technique, advanced compositional smarts and the ability to bring the best out of studio
musicians to such seemingly effortless songs as 1974’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and 1977’s “Peg.”
The duo were typically sarcastic in a statement, issued Tuesday, that
noted their failure to make the Hall of Fame in previous years.
“We have just received word and wish to acknowledge that we have been
[chosen/again passed over] for membership in the internationally
renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Steely Dan wrote. “It is indeed a [great honor/great honor] to even be considered and short-listed for
this prestigious award and we stand prepared to [join/be blackballed
from] the august company that comprises the inductees of the Hall of
Fame, including but not limited to Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Paul
McCartney, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney, and
the Yardbirds including Eric Clapton.”
Clapton has been inducted into the hall three times — as a member
of the ’60s bands Cream and the Yardbirds, and as a solo artist.
Ritchie Valens’ place in music history was secure before February 3,
1959, when he died in the plane crash that also claimed the lives of
Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. His 1958 hits “La Bamba” and “Donna” are perfect slices of early rock and roll.
Solomon Burke is a crucial link in the evolution from gospel to soul.
His preacherly singing, not to mention his strong penchant for country
music, made such singles as 1962’s “Cry to Me” and 1964’s “Everybody
Needs Somebody to Love” soul music classics.
The Flamingos are one of the most beloved doo-wop groups. The quintet
provided delicate harmonies on such classic ’50s singles as “Golden
Teardrops” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.”
Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, will be inducted as a
non-performer, the hall also announced Tuesday. And in the sideman
category, guitarist James Burton, who accompanied Elvis Presley in the
’60s and ’70s, and Johnnie Johnson, the pianist crucial to the Chuck
Berry canon, will get nods.
The 2001 induction ceremony is scheduled for March 19 at the Waldorf
Astoria Hotel in New York, followed by a broadcast of the ceremony on
VH1 on March 21.