Burn Down the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame!

Burn baby burn - those are the only words that can be used in reference to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. It is a place that has become as passé as a cannonball in warfare.

The most glaring absurdity (of many absurdities and contradictions), beyond even the fact that Run DMC, a RAP group got into the ROCK n' ROLL Hall of Fame, is the fact that Rush is not present within its walls - the very same Rush that has placed 18 albums on the charts in the United States since 1974, 10 of them reaching the Top 10. (Marder) - so it cannot be said that they are unsuccessful.

To further cement this rather glaring prerequisite for Rush’s place in a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, they rank third behind just The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band (Marder).

So if Rush is so successful why does the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame ignore them? It is simple really. Much like with the Oscars, or the even more ridiculous Grammys, politics comes into play in a big way. “The initial selections are made by a committee of 30 to 35 music business people,” says Tony Sclafani. So only thirty five individuals given control of, and the ability to vote for, musicians they believe belong in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Seems like it would be pretty easy for those thirty five people to form a snobbish clique and decide they knew more about ROCK & ROLL then the blue collar folks, the kind of people that make up Rush’s fandom. Besides that let's just face the music - a good deal of those people are most likely critics who are notoriously against Rush, and the collective group of them has a repeated history of denying Progressive Rock bands.

Now let’s take a step back for a second and return to the critics and why they deny Rush. My little conspiracy theory is that Rolling Stone magazine (a large influence in the Hall) Has far more control thamn they ever should. The write up on Rush in the New Rolling Stone Album Guide includes comments such as;

“...their love of tricky time signatures and busy solos is what hypnotizes fans and bores everybody else..."
"..lyricist Pert’s mystifying cosmic bent and lead singer Lee’s Donald Duck-on-acid howl inspire similar love-it-or-loathe-it debates....”

Objective? No way! The Hall simply hates Progressive Rock - and can not even acknowledge a band that has worked for 40 years with phenominal success. Sclafani points out that besides Rush, “Yes, the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, the Electric Light Orchestra, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer,” do not have places within it. Consider the case rested.

How does Rush itself react to this unsettling snub? Guitarist Alex Lifeson called the Hall selection process a joke. (Fletcher) And that is about the reaction everyone should have. Phil Marder said it best with this tid bit, “The Hall of Fame seems to go out of its way to recognize the obscure, including some who can barely sing or play their instruments, while rejecting many who demonstrate the highest proficiency in their recordings and stage performance. Rush consists of three virtuosos who have dazzled – and continue to dazzle – fans in the studio and on stage for close to 40 years.” The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is a politically aware and overly superfluous pig that has learned to walk and talk all on its own, and they certainly love to beat a dead horse when it comes to praising those they feel are within their clique. "The Rock Hall has honored over a dozen musicians twice", says Sclafani. What's worse is that the meat that comes from it doesn't even taste good anymore, not to mention the irony that ROCK & ROLL, once the most glaring symbol of rebellion has become an insiders game that punishes such rebelliousness as Rush has show towards the musical establishment over their career. It is time to throw away the old vestiges of a Rolling Stoneem>-controlled Hall and aim a bit higher. To quote Deep Purple (another fantastic group that is not and probably will never be in the Hall) "Burn the place to the ground". Besides, where we’re going we don’t need Halls!

Rock and Roll Heaven

So it is that today I am proposing new concentration of tribute for the heroes of rock n roll - Rock and Roll Heaven. It will be a place that has one major prerequisite before anyone can be allowed in - you have to be DEAD. It may sound morbid, but it is a HEAVEN and it is much more sensible to honor the dead who are still with us in spirit then to suck the perpetual teats of celebrities in with the Rolling Stone crowd. Also, just being dead is not enough to be cannonized in such a place. So the idiot junkie that offs himself at 27 will have no place here (Hendrix excluded) just because he's all of a sudden "brilliant" the day after he or she dies. There must be longevity, creativeness, musicianship, as well as relevance beyond the era that the art was created. And there is no double-dipping - an artist will enter Rock and Roll Heaven either in a band or as a solo act, but not both. So Jim Morrison will have to wait for the other three Doors to kick it and John Lennon will be in as a Beatle and only a Beatle. (This last criteria will avoid absurdities like Buffalo Springfield being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame because Steven Stills and Neil Young were members, even though the vast amount of work done by those two were outside of that band.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to propose the first members of Rock and Roll Heaven. Due to the strong criteria noted above, there would only be five:

Elvis Presley
Ray Charles
Johnny Cash
Jimi Hendrix
The Beatles

Now you may want to point out that The Beatles inclusion violates my own criteria because Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still walk amoung us, but hey, they are The Beatles and they are a special case. So, in that sense, McCartney and Starr will be the first and only exempt from the death clause. There are who are definately "knocking on heaven’s door", such as Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, but they are not there yet. And when their time does come, they will be inducted, not in some lavish, annual New York faux concert (another absudity since the Hall is located in Cleveland), but instantly and with their life's work doing all the talking. Bands will be tougher to get in than individuals (I mean, Keith Richards was supposed to be dead 40 years ago and who knows, he may go for another 40 years).

For the time being, Rock and Roll Heaven will exist in the virtual world. Perhaps someday a brick-n-mordor location can be built as a memorial in some appropriate locale such as the Mississippi Delta, where the true roots of rock sprang to life. It will not be in Cleveland, where the only thing that got its start was the Progressive Rock band Rush.


J.D. Cook is a student and author who operates the website Big Blue Bullfrog
Ric Albano is a writer, musician, and web developer who owns and operates Modern Rock Review

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