In honor of giving credit where credit is due: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, you got it 80% right this year and for that I salute you! In years past, I’ve been very critical of this institution for their apparent lack of acknowledgement for hard rock and metal bands as well as ignoring some of the genre’s greatest pioneers such as Ted Nugent, BOSTON, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Iron Maiden and many, many more. All the while, they insist on including rap and pop artists every year in some odd, PC driven fascination with “equality”. Even though they continued to include a rap group in this year’s inductees, I can let it slide because the other four are long overdue and deserving. Let’s meet the newest class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
1. Deep Purple
The casual rock fan knows them for the most well known riff in guitar history: “Smoke on the Water“. Their catalog is so much more impressive than that, though, and their influence on heavy metal music is as important as anyone, including Black Sabbath. They’ve influenced all of the major European metal acts from the seventies and eighties including Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and the aforementioned Sabbath. There have been many, many people that have spent time in this band over the years. The group’s sound changed over the decades with different singers and different influences creating the product. There isn’t a better example, though, of their perfected craft than on their 1970 track “Child in Time“. Listen to it here. This combination of Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan’s haunting vocals, Jon Lord’s powerful keys, and Roger Glover and Ian Paice’s bass and drums showed the entire band clicking on all cylinders and it is heavier than most metal you hear today. This induction should have happened twenty years ago.
2. Cheap Trick
Again, the casual rock fan knows them for their mega-hit “I Want You to Want Me” and their ballad “The Flame“. This group is one of the most versatile bands to ever play. They epitomize the importance of LIVE music. The group’s album “Cheap Trick at Budokan” is one of the most essential live records of all time. Decades later, they still deliver live. How many classic bands that aren’t metal are confident enough in their product to be placed as direct support to KORN at the United States’ largest rock festival? Cheap Trick did and won over a Rock on the Range crowd that largely was unfamiliar to the band. They don’t hide their confidence one bit, as their introduction tape beckons ‘The Best F***ing Rock Band You’ve Ever Seen‘. Listen to their teen anthem “Surrender” here. Most bands can be pigeonholed to a certain sound or genre. Cheap Trick has a sound all of their own and are one of the most unique bands of all time.
3. Steve Miller
You know him as “The Space Cowboy” and as a midnight toker. Perhaps you even call him “Gangster of Love” or Maurice? No matter what your moniker for Steve Miller is, his run of hits in the seventies and early eighties stack up right there with some of the biggest acts in the business. These impressive anthems that are still in constant rotation on rock radio include: “Fly Like an Eagle“; “Jungle Love“; “Rock’n Me“; “Take the Money and Run“; “Jet Airliner” and many more. There is something about his hit “The Joker” though that captures an era of music that just simply doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like that song. Listen to it here. How many modern day rock songs will still be anthems forty plus years later? That’s what I thought.
Ah, Chicago. Admittedly, not my go to group for my rock needs. However, it can’t be denied what they brought to the rock game. Throughout their long careers, they have gotten away from rock music at times and ventured into softer avenues. Needless to say, their fusion of rock music and horns opened up a whole new world to rock music. They proved with their iconic track “25 Or 6 To 4” that you can rock and include some brass instruments at the same time. The song is a blast to play on guitar and for virtually any kid that was ever in a high school marching band. Check it out here.
The one dud in this year’s class is N.W.A. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of a band like YES. A prog outfit that has done so much more for the world of rock than N.W.A. clearly has. The silver lining to this, though, is that in the rap world; N.W.A. were a pioneering act. Sure, they may stand for virtually everything that middle America is against, but they influenced all of West Coast rap in it’s mid 90’s prime. It’s members are still fairly relevant; most notably Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Their inclusion is disturbing as a group that glamorized gang life, killing cops, drugs, race baiting, sexism and pretty much everything else that is wrong with the world. The fact that those topics are relevant and acceptable again in the rap world paved the way for this pile of crap to be inducted.