Cleveland won't just be rocking it will be shaking next year, if
enough Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters check the appropriate boxes on
their 1999 ballots, which went out this week.
Hard-rock royalty Queen and Aerosmith passed over in the 1998
hall of fame nomination process, when both were eligible for the first
time are on this year's ballot along with heavy-metal pioneers
Black Sabbath, who were nominated last year but didn't get in.
Also nominated for the first time this year are 1970s soul band the
O'Jays, who hope to ride the love train into the Cleveland institution,
and bluesy rocker Bonnie Raitt, who wants to give them something to talk
Influential '60s pop-rock band the Lovin' Spoonful, soft-rock singer
James Taylor, and old hall of fame hands Eric Clapton and Lou Reed also
are on the nominating list this year.
Reed, if voted in, would join ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon
and a few others, including ex-Buffalo Springfield member Neil Young, as a double inductee; he
was inducted in 1996 with the Velvet Underground, the avant-garde '60s
rock band he fronted. Clapton is already on two hall of fame plaques,
as a member of 1992 inductees the Yardbirds and 1993 inductees Cream.
The ballot is rounded out by '50s rocker Ritchie Valens, singer of "La
excerpt); doo-wop groups the Moonglows and the Flamingos; rock
band Steely Dan, known for such '70s studio creations as "Rikki Don't
Lose That Number" (RealAudio
excerpt); R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire; and soul singer Solomon
Burke, all of whom have been nominated before.
Artists become eligible for the hall of fame 25 years after their first
album is released. Nearly 800 voters will choose this year's inductees
from among the 15 on the ballot. Each voter is allowed to name up to
eight acts, in order of preference. The inductees, who'll officially
enter the hall in 2000, will be announced in November, according to
Elizabeth Freund, a spokesperson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Aerosmith, whose Steven Tyler and Joe Perry inducted Led Zeppelin into
the hall of fame in 1995, spent the 1970s cranking out bluesy rock songs
such as "Sweet Emotion" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Walk This Way," only to see their popularity take
a dip in the late '70s and early '80s.
They went nearly eight years without a charting single in the '80s. But
they made a remarkable comeback in the past decade, thanks to such pop
ballads as "Angel" and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," a #1 hit in 1998.
They see themselves as a throwback to rock's root values. "We have a few
props here and there, but it's mostly about the energy and the music for
us," guitarist Perry said last year. "We'll leave the plastic t--s to
Marilyn Manson and the exploding guitars to Kiss."
Queen blended the operatic bravado of singer Freddie Mercury with Brian
May's soaring guitars. They recorded such hard-rock classics as "We Will
Rock You" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (RealAudio
excerpt) immortalized, if it wasn't already, by a scene
in the movie "Wayne's World" and the disco-influenced "Another
One Bites the Dust," a #1 single in 1980. Mercury died of AIDS in 1991.
Robert Hull, a hall of fame voter and the executive producer of Time-Life
Music in Alexandria, Va., said Black Sabbath, known for their heavy
guitar sound and for unleashing manic singer Ozzy Osbourne on the world,
would be his first choice.
"They have influenced just about any band you can think of in the 1990s,"
Hull, who was also a member of the hall's nominating committee this year,
Hull said he nominated Black Sabbath, whose best-known songs include
excerpt of live version) and "Iron Man," and the Lovin' Spoonful,
known for such hits as "Do You Believe in Magic" (RealAudio
excerpt). Around 90 people were on the nominating committee this
year, he said.
The Lovin' Spoonful have been eligible for the hall for nearly a decade.
Fronted by singer John Sebastian, the eclectic New York band with
jug-band roots had a string of seven top-10 hits in 1965 and 1966,
including "Daydream" and "Summer in the City."
"The sound of their production influenced a lot of bands afterwards,"
Hull said. "So they were more influential than they were important."
Most of the Spoonful's classic '60s albums are out of print.
Raitt, currently on tour with Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby and Shawn
Colvin, was taken by surprise when told of her nomination Tuesday (Sept.
21) in Boise, Idaho, according to tour spokesperson Lindajo Loftus.
"She didn't even know," Loftus said.
An expert slide-guitar player, Raitt enjoyed years of critical acclaim
before breaking through to the mainstream with a string of Grammy Awards
and hits such as "Something to Talk About" in the early '90s.
Clapton has been a '90s Grammy favorite, too, thanks to such pop hits as
"Tears in Heaven." After establishing himself as a rapid-fire blues
soloist with the Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos, he established
himself as a solo star with a mellower sound. His major hits include a
cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," "Lay Down Sally" and "Promises."
Reed, whose first solo album, Transformer, came out in 1972, is
known for such dark, poetic rock songs as "Walk on the Wild Side"
excerpt). He has continued to record acclaimed albums in the
quarter-century since, including The Blue Mask (1982) and Magic
and Loss (1992).
The O'Jays combined funk with soul on albums produced by the Philadelphia
duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Their hits include "Back Stabbers,"
"Love Train" and the often-sampled "For the Love of Money." They continue
to tour and record, with original members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams.
Taylor began his career on the Beatles' Apple Records and became popular
for such acoustic folk-rock songs as "You've Got a Friend," "Fire and
Rain" and "Carolina on My Mind." Though the hits have dried up, he
remains a steady seller. His 1997 album, Hourglass, went platinum
quicker than any of his other releases, according to Recording Industry
Association of America data.
The most-recent class of hall of famers, inducted earlier this year,
included Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney.