Talking of awards nights, this week I received my invitation to the 29th Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York on April 10. Because I vote for the nominees, I get an invite every year but as you might expect it is not a cheap night out, which is why I have never gone. Top whack for a ‘Chairman’s Sponsor’ table is an eye-watering $100,000 which gets you and nine pals into rehearsals, a party with the nominees, real bells and whistles treatment, while the cheapest ticket is $3,000 per person. I know it’s for charity but that’s one way to make sure the hoi polloi don’t spoil things by vomiting on the red carpet or propositioning someone’s trophy wife.
When I posted something about this on fb last year it inspired a lively debate about the meaning of ‘Rock & Roll’ in this context, so those who joined in the debate might be interested to learn that this year’s six inductees are Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Kiss, Nirvana, Linda Rondstadt and Cat Stevens. Entitled to select five from a list of 16 nominees, I plumped for four of these (Gabriel, Nirvana, Ronstadt and Stevens) but the other one I voted for, Deep Purple, didn’t make it. Neither did the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, LL Cool J, The Meters, NWA, The Replacements, Link Wray, Yes and The Zombies. Some of those, though not necessarily all, will be nominated again next year.
I’m surprised that Kiss and Cat Stevens are being inducted, Kiss because their brand of pantomime rock isn’t the kind of thing HoF voters seem to like (and I agree with them) and Stevens because he’s simply not rock’n’roll and, having converted to Islam, is about as far removed from the music biz establishment as it’s possible to be. I had a passing acquaintance with him in the ‘70s, wrote a now very rare book on him in the early ‘80s and have bumped into him from time to time since, all of which I’ll compile into a post sooner or later.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the R&RHoF is Jann Wenner, founder, publisher and editor of Rolling Stone which once it had shed its anarchic beginnings has cosied up to the record industry big time. This is why you never ever read a bad review of a record by a big act in RS, and why almost all the albums reviewed get the sort of tepid three-out-of-five star review that will offend no one but says very little. In truth, RS’s political reporting is nowadays far more robust than their bland music coverage.
I’ll keep voting, though, if for no other reason than I can keep complaining to the famously anonymous nomination committee that Richard Thompson has never been selected, nor Slade for that matter. Once upon a time they sent voters cassette tapes with songs by the nominees, usually their greatest hit, which was great for the car. These were then superseded by CDs, of which I still have about half a dozen. Now it’s downloads which are not nearly as useful.