CLEVELAND, Ohio – If the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2014 Induction Ceremony were a blockbuster movie, it’s lead actor would have been Nirvana.
There were other big names. But Nirvana was the first iconic 1990s rock band (sorry Red Hot Chili Peppers) to earn Induction. It should have been the start of a new era for the Rock Hall. But things didn’t quite go that way.
Our “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Remixed” series looks back on every year of Inductions, correcting mistakes and re-evaluating resumes.
[See previous remixed classes: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013]
Of course, Nirvana headlines our Remixed Class of 2014. But we also embraced several snubs:
- The Smiths
- Eric B. & Rakim
- Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
- The Zombies*
Fiction vs. Reality: Nirvana, KISS, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens. That was the Rock Hall’s actual Class of 2014 in terms of “Performers.” It was a good showing, even if some of those choices are a bit polarizing.
We’ve already inducted Peter Gabriel and Kiss. However, Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, and Stevens all failed to earn Induction in our Remixed series.
We don’t really feel the need to defend our decision on Yusuf Islam (aka Stevens). While a fantastic singer-songwriter, the list of folk artists we would Induct over Stevens is very (very) long. It includes Emmylou Harris, Tracy Chapman, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Prine, the Weavers, Nick Drake, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Odetta and more.
We admit we love Hall and Oates. If we extended our Remixed series into the future, we’d probably wind up inducting the duo. Just not yet. Consider we haven’t even inducted the Righteous Brothers yet.
Ronstadt was tough. Even as we write this, we question whether or not we should have found a way to put her in. At the end of this Remixed series, she’s probably be in our next 10 acts to induct. Yet, we just didn’t consider her career quite as exceptional as some of our other picks. But you’re splitting hairs.
That left us room to embrace Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest and most influential blues artist of all time, especially in a modern setting. We also welcomed longtime snubs The Smiths and The Eurythmics.
The Smiths were never commercially successful in the U.S., which seems to be the only knock against one of the most important British pop acts since The Beatles. The Eurythmics show our willingness to embrace electronic-driven music and its influence on today’s pop landscape. Not to mention Annie Lennox’s status as one of the most important female recording artists of all time.
Biggest debate: We know we’ll take flack for pushing artists like Ronstadt and Stevens out of the Rock Hall in favor of a somewhat niche hip-hop artist like Eric B. & Rakim.
We could bore you with the duo’s number of essential rap songs and albums. But it came down to one thing for us. The Rock Hall has embraced hip hop and Rakim is, without a doubt, the most important and influential emcee of all time. I don’t see how inducting the likes of Notorious B.I.G., Eminem or Jay-Z (which is bound to happen) is possible before honoring Rakim.
*Legends Committee: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris made an interesting statement regarding the Zombies recently. He said once the band is Inducted, you can close the book on 1960s rock.
We don’t know if that’s fully true. However, it does highlight the fact that the Zombies feel like this glaring omission. The Zombies weren’t the Beatles or the Kinks. And you could attack us for choosing them over a more popular act like The Dave Clark Five or The Hollies.
But when it comes to influence, there’s no comparison. The Zombies redefined the idea of the concept album with “Odessey and Oracle.” The hits are also there, as is the band’s impact on a number of Rock Hall worthy acts (which is one of our best defining criteria), including Electric Light Orchestra, Procol Harum, Genesis, the Bee Gees and Paul Weller.
What’s next: We inch are way closer to current day.