This article was originally published on May 24, 2011.
Burn, baby burn! These 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 Stone – 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!
When Rush finally got the nod for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I honestly wanted them to politely refuse. This was the very same Hall of Fame that had snubbed them for decades. The very same one that includes one hit wonders and Rap Artists next to Pink Floyd and the Beatles. Really I wouldn’t be so offended by it if it re-branded itself as the Pop Music Hall of Fame or something else but calling it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a complete misnomer. What made the nomination worse was that it wasn’t being given to Rush for their outstanding musical compositions or their decades of touring or even their loyal diehard fans. In the end the only thing that really got Rush the nomination was a sudden boost in popularity due to I Love You, Man and rising pressure from an offended mass of musician’s and legitimate music journalists who knew the Rock and Roll Hall of fame’s snobbish spurning of the Progressive Rock Legends was completely unjustified. Oh and let’s not forget the fantastic documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage which made their case for acceptance black and white. Add to that the sudden explosions and acceptance of all thinks once considered Geeky and you see why Rush is now part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Anyway the day came for the bands entry and I found myself excited just because I love seeing Rush in any capacity. Neil Peart gave a deep, intellectual speech and Geddy Lee gave an emotional and thankful speech. Then it came time for Alex Lifeson’s speech. Well he did what I never knew I always wanted. Instead of letting bygones be bygones. He indicted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a sea of Blah…literally. Lifeson gave one of the most anti-establishment, pro-Rock and Roll speeches of all time. He illustrated in hilarious fashion that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s inclusion of Rush didn’t mean a whole lot to him because quite frankly their opinions are rather worthless.
Check out the second video below to see just what I’m talking about.