Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Kids In the Hall

You know all those seminal blues artists and classic rockers who still haven't seen inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but would like to?  I'm sorry to tell you this, but it could be a long wait.
It was reported earlier this year that Jon Landau, a former rock critic who later became Bruce Springsteen's manager and is now the head of the hall's nominating committee, fired possibly up to sixteen members of the 42-member committee.  No one would give the actual number of those let go, but Landau's actions eliminated about half of the committee's Early Rock and R&B Influencers subcommittee, suggesting that the Hall is going to be looking less toward anyone who began his or her recording career before 1980 and will try to concentrate more on "contemporary" recording "artists."  That means diminished chances not only for pre-Beatles acts that haven't been inducted yet, like the Marvelettes (whose "Please Mr. Postman" the Beatles covered) and several other early R&B acts,  but also for classic-rock bands like Deep Purple and Jethro Tull and for obscure British bands like Family, along with Lindisfarne, Fairport Convention and almost every British folk-rock band that didn't have the good luck of breaking through commercially in America like Jethro Tull did.
Among the folks let go are Joe McEwen, a veteran artists and repertoire agent and a blues and R&B expert, reissue-specialty-label executive Greg Geller, and writer Arthur Levy.  Among those staying on is Seymour Stein, who earned himself a place in purgatory by signing Madonna to Sire.  Not good.
This can only mean one thing, and a lot of recording-trade insiders are saying it; Landau and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who are pretty much the Hall's overlords, want to leave the distant past behind and focus on more recent acts to appeal to younger fans who know nothing about the music's history (much like people Roger Ebert overheard leaving screenings of The Buddy Holly Story back in 1978 expressing surprise that so many of those Linda Ronstadt songs were in fact Holly covers) and to HBO, which broadcasts the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and is looking for big ratings.  (So much for subscription television being immune to ratings pressure.)  The Hall is aiming for more approval from the kids, and it looks like kids will be joining the nomination committee. One insider was quoted as saying, "There are still a lot of worthy artists from the 1950s and the 1960s that deserve to be in, but now it looks like their chances are reduced further."  The individual's identity, unsurprisingly, was not revealed.
I've always liked the idea of a institution devoted to the history and the preservation of rock and roll.  The reality, alas, has consistently proven to be very different from the idea.   

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