January 19, 2017

One and Done? Artists That Should Return to the Rock Hall Ballot

One is the loneliest number... especially if you're a musician with a single Rock Hall nomination, and still on the outside looking in.

While a growing multitude of worthy artists remain excluded from that famous pyramid on Lake Erie, it's intriguing to consider those in the "one nomination club." There are 21 acts with this distinction; below is a list of 10 that by all rights should return to the ballot.

New York Dolls
New York Dolls
Nominated for Class of 2001 
It's interesting that Aerosmith was also on this ballot, and got in, as Steven Tyler would be the first to tell you how influential the New York Dolls were on his band. Deeply impactful on everyone from the Smiths to Guns N' Roses, the shambolic glam godfathers—David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, Syl Sylvain, Arthur Kane, and Jerry Nolan—certainly deserve another shot at the Rock Hall.

Bon Jovi
Nominated for Class of 2011
Love'em or hate'em, even a brief survey of Bon Jovi's album sales, massive radio/MTV hits, and global popularity reveals that they're just too significant an act for the Hall to ignore permanently. The Jersey boys were nominated once, but they've been down on their luck with the institution since. Last October, Jon Bon Jovi had some rather candid, choice words about unspecified Rock Hall insiders, which could impact their chances, at least in the near future. Still, they are one of those groups that seem destined to get in. Before you moan and groan about it too much, imagine a Radiohead/Bon Jovi Rock Hall class... talk about balance.

The Cure
Nominated for Class of 2012 
Anyone that has followed "college/modern/alternative"-rock from the past 30 years would agree with the Cure's musical excellence and the shadow of their everlasting influence. They created a virtual social class of fans sporting their dark aesthetic, and remain a powerful live act.

Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim
Nominated for Class of 2013
A nomination in the next year or so could be nice timing for this Long Island hip-hop duo, as they are reuniting for a 2017 tour. They have deep respect in the hip-hop community thanks to Eric B.'s punchy, James Brown-sampling beats and Rakim's silken, poetic flow, and were held in high enough esteem to land a Rock Hall nomination. LL Cool J and A Tribe Called Quest could potentially be among the next hip-hop artists getting attention from the institution, but the influential Eric B. and Rakim deserve another appearance on the ballot.

Link Wray
Nominated for Class of 2014 
This six-string innovator basically pioneered the power chord and inspired the Who's Pete Townshend (and countless others) to pick up a guitar. A towering presence in rock and roll, Wray was featured recently in the documentary RUMBLE: The Indians who Rocked the World, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Replacements
The Replacements
Nominated for Class of 2014 
Perpetually teetering on the edge of self-destruction makes for some stellar music. Minneapolis enfant terribles Paul Westerberg, Chris Mars, and siblings Bob and Tommy Stinson forged a memorable artistic identity: drunken chaos mixed with unexpectedly genius songwriting. They were cocky enough to call one album Let it Be and cheeky enough to cover KISS' "Black Diamond," but it's tough to argue against their musical achievements and influence on so many acts—everyone from Nirvana to Guided by Voices to Ryan Adams.

Los Lobos
Nominated for Class of 2016
"Just another band from East L.A.," maybe, but they flirted with Rock Hall enshrinement when their nomination was announced, to some surprise, in 2015. They didn't get inducted, but Los Lobos' roots-minded, dynamic, and unique sound is deserving of another nomination.

Bad Brains
Bad Brains
Nominated for Class of 2017
It will be interesting to see where Dave Grohl is going next with his Nomination Committee advocacy (Motörhead?). This year, he was pushing for these Washington, D.C. hardcore legends, a choice so out of left-field that anyone hoping for punk bands like Black Flag, Fugazi, or the Minutemen to infiltrate the nomination list now has hope. In any case, it would be tremendous overall to see Bad Brains receive additional nominations.

Jane's Addiction
Nominated for Class of 2017
As the virtual mothership from which '90s "alt-rock" was beamed, then fostered through the Lollapalooza fest, Jane's Addiction belongs in the Hall. Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Eric Avery dropped two landmark albums in Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual, unleashing monolithic Zeppelin riffs, tribal drumming, freak-funk and ethereal psychedelia upon the world. Music hasn't been the same since.

Depeche Mode
Nominated for Class of 2017
Hit-making titans of synth-pop, Depeche Mode will get in eventually. That said, their nomination this past year was still a surprise, as it seemed like a nomination was still a few years off. Nine Inch Nails and the Smiths dropped out of contention on the last ballot, which seems to have made room for David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and company. Their stack of hits and global prestige should rightfully land them on future ballots.

January 6, 2017

Forever Snubbed? 15 Artists Never Nominated for the Rock Hall

Hope springs eternal, but the Rock Hall can sure put that old saw to the test. If you're an eligible artist whose first release was 25-plus years ago, and you're still not in the Rock Hall, you're in good company (or... in Bad Company).

One can't help but marvel at just a random sampling of the noteworthy-to-genius artists that have never received a single nomination. In an increasingly variable Rock Hall ballot climate that has seen everyone from Bad Brains to Steppenwolf to the Replacements getting a nod, there would appear to be a huge swath of "never-nominateds" whose odds are as good as anyone's.

Here are 15 acts that, according to Future Rock Legends, have zero Rock Hall nominations to date (and yes, there are many, many more). Let your eyes go wide, or roll them, at your leisure:

Bad Company
Bad Company - 18 years eligible, with hits such as "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Can't Get Enough," this British supergroup led by singer Paul Rodgers seems to fit right into the classic rock-friendly Rock Hall classes of late.

Pat Benatar - Benatar's merits were previously extolled in this space. Again, with the Hall tilting toward populist, FM radio-friendly rock, and the ongoing gender disparity within the institution, this overdue icon could rightfully get a nomination. Eligible since 2004.

Captain Beefheart
Captain Beefheart - The late, great Don Van Vliet has been eligible for 26 years, but so far no Rock Hall love for his avant-transgressive yet highly influential art-rock. A cohort and collaborator with Frank Zappa (check out the album Bongo Fury), Captain Beefheart is an outlier that the already-inducted Tom Waits (and unabashed fan PJ Harvey) would surely admit cribbing from a little. Could be an Early Influence candidate, and the musical performance at the ceremony could simply be a klezmer band falling down a stairwell.

Dick Dale Eligible for a whopping 30 years, "The King of the Surf Guitar" has yet to feel the Hall's gnarly wave of recognition crest over him. With his knack for reverb and distortion, not to mention his signature plucking style, his influence was especially great on hard rock and metal. Among many other accomplishments, Dale's "Misirlou" was used to striking effect in the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Guess Who
The Guess Who This past October, the Rock Hall nominated The Guess Who's fellow Canadians Steppenwolf, which was the second biggest surprise of the ballot after Bad Brains. It's difficult not to draw parallels; if they're willing to recognize the Great White North's John Kay and company, then it's not a stretch to think The Guess Who is just as worthy, with huge hits like "American Woman," "These Eyes," and "No Time." Their membership included Randy Bachman, who went on form Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Jethro Tull There are some artists with uncanny, heavy-rotation songs that feel forever imprinted on rock fans' cerebellums; Jethro Tull, eligible for 24 years now, is one of these, with "Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath," and "Bungle in the Jungle" to their credit. Not critical favorites really, so that might speak to why their conceptual, flute-driven rock/folk/prog hybrid hasn't resonated with the Hall. But that certainly hasn't been a problem for other critically-loathed acts like KISS and Journey.

Joy Division
Joy Division Dark wave post-punk legends that set a navel-gazing template for so many artists that came after them, from the Smiths (nominated twice) to Nine Inch Nails (nominated twice) to Radiohead (a strong bet for 2018) and many others. They disintegrated upon singer Ian Curtis' death in 1980, then morphed into electronic-pop masters New Order. Many will tear this suggestion apart, but let's go radical here: A joint Joy Division/New Order induction (a  la the Small Faces/Faces maneuver in 2012) could spike the chances of either of these bands getting in anytime soon. 

King Crimson - Yes fans have to be thrilled they're finally getting inducted, and Rush got in in 2013, but all concerned would still bow down to King Crimson, the consensus titans of prog-rock. Much like Kraftwerk forged a standard for electronic music, KC's Robert Fripp and a gigantic cast of instrumental wizards (Adrian Belew, Ian McDonald, Tony Levin, the late Greg Lake and many others) set the prog blueprint. Eligible for 24 years.

The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues It's always darkest before the dawn; even though the Moody Blues' Justin Hayward recently said "It's too late now" for the Rock Hall nomination, this drought is likely coming to an end, possibly as early as next year. Every time a snubbed artist says they don't care, and "it's for the fans anyway," you can almost guarantee a nomination. Eligible for 28 years.

Harry Nilsson - A deeply respected '70s singer-songwriter with some truly genius songwriting and a notorious lust for life. His achievements include "One" (covered famously by Three Dog Night), "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'." Two years ago, the late Nilsson made Rolling Stone's list of "The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time" so there might be some real hope of a nomination.

Peter, Paul and Mary
Peter, Paul and Mary Folk icons of the 1960s who interpreted many Dylan songs ("Blowin' in the Wind," "The Times They Are-A Changin'"), performed at the 1963 March on Washington, and maybe just saw their Rock Hall fortunes increase with this April's induction of socially conscious peer Joan Baez. Eligible since 1987.

Roxy Music Eligible since 1997, Roxy music emerged out of London in 1971 and went on to deeply impact glam, new wave, and anything that might be described as art-rock. In a career trajectory that took them from the cutting-edge to a suave sophistication, Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno and company created legendary music with plenty of disciples. Influence and musical excellence? No question.

Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy - Whiskey in the jar, and Lizzy in the Hall? 21 years eligible, these Irish hard rockers with a dangerous two-guitar attack and the compelling, gritty lyrics of late singer-bassist Phil Lynott would be a welcome addition to any Rock Hall ballot. It's tough to see them getting much attention before the likes of Motörhead and Judas Priest, hard rock/heavy metal-wise, but let's face it: pecking order has never been a priority of this insitution, so Thin Lizzy has to remain a valid part of the conversation.

T. Rex During their glam-tastic ten-year run, T. Rex, led by singer-guitarist Marc Bolan, created such indelible monster hits as "Bang a Gong (Get it On)" and "20th Century Boy." The band influenced many a genre (punk, new wave/new romantic, metal), not to mention the New York Dolls, the Smiths, and Oasis, to name just a few. The flamboyance and glitter ended with Bolan's death in a 1977 car accident, but the music has definitely lived on. Eligible since 1993.

Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon 23 years eligible now, Los Angeles' late bard of debauched, razor-witted songcraft would fit right into the Rock Hall ballot's singer-songwriter slot (think 2013 inductee Randy Newman). Will it take "Lawyers, Guns and Money"? Well, it might only take Paul Shaffer, who jammed with Zevon many times on the Letterman show, and is a key advocate/Rock Hall insider. Inducting this guy could also yield a terrific induction ceremony performance: Imagine what former Zevon collaborator Bruce Springsteen or even artistic descendant Father John Misty could do with that material.