One defined rock in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the other’s biggest hit name-calls the genre. Those might be some reasons why Guns N’ Roses and Joan Jett are among the leading nominees for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2012.
In addition to the Axl Rose-led group and the woman who made “I Love Rock ’n Roll” a rallying cry, other first-time nominees who could take the podium at the April 14, 2012, induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, include legendary mope rockers the Cure, sister act Heart, hip-hop icons Eric B. & Rakim, classic vocal group the Spinners, blues giant Freddie King, soul act Rufus with Chaka Khan and 1960s rockers the Small Faces/Faces.
A number of previous nominees are back again for another shot at the Hall, including the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, War, Donovan and Laura Nyro.
Acts become eligible for the Hall 25 years after the release of their first single or album, so this year’s crop all started releasing music in or before the year 1986.
Jett is one of the most iconic women in rock, from her teenage jailbait tour in the all-girl group the Runaways to her tough-as-nails leather-clad days as a solo star and bandleader of the Blackhearts.
With her signature low-slung guitar, spiky black hair and Elvis sneer, Jett broke out as a solo star in the early 1980s with a string of fist-pumping hits (many of which were covers of old-school rock tunes) including “I Love Rock ’n Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and “Bad Reputation.”
Led by the mercurial Rose, GN’R re-invented hard rock with 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, which featured such indelible glam-punk hits as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “It’s So Easy.” The band splintered a decade later amid a clash of egos, disagreement over musical direction and drug issues that resulted in Rose soldiering on alone with a parade of replacement sidemen.
New York’s Eric B. & Rakim are considered one of the greatest hip-hop duos of all time, rising to prominence on 1986’s Paid in Full with a sound that mixed scratching and samples of old-school R&B with B.’s hard-hitting rhymes on tunes such as “Eric B. Is President,” “I Know You Got Soul,” the title track and “Move the Crowd.”
Formed in 1976, British band the Cure have become shorthand for a certain kind of poppily depressive goth rock sound. Fronted by fright-wig-and-red-lipstick-wearing Robert Smith, the Cure are enduring college rock favorites thanks to such gloomily frothy tunes as “Friday I’m in Love,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Close to Me” and “Why Can’t I Be You?”
Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson formed Heart in 1973 in Seattle, Washington, mixing their love of hard rock and folk music on such mid-1970s radio staples as “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man” and “Barracuda.”
R&B vocal group the Spinners were birthed on the fertile Detroit soul scene in 1961, hitting the charts multiple times with songs including “It’s a Shame,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and “Games People Play.”
Chicago blues band Rufus struck gold with lead singer Chaka Khan, who helped them score hits with “Tell Me Something Good,” “Sweet Thing” and “Ain’t Nobody.” Late Texas bluesman King (known as “The Texas
Cannonball”) was often referred to as one of the “three kings” of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King. He was best known for the songs “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “Hide Away”
and for being one of the first blues players to have an integrated backing band.
Like the Who, English mod rockers the Small Faces were heavily influenced by American R&B, which they explored on signature songs “Itchycoo Park,” “Lazy Sunday” and “All or Nothing.” In their second phase as the Faces, members included future Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood and singer Rod Stewart.
Dissension has become one of the reliable side stories of the Rock Hall ceremonies. While such notoriously splintered acts as Led Zeppelin and the Talking Heads managed to set aside differences for one night (Blondie, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Van Halen not so much), the biggest question this year is whether sole remaining Guns member Rose will make nice with his estranged former bandmates should the group make it into the Hall of Fame.