Every year I look forward to the list of new inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And most years I find myself somewhat disappointed at the list. This year, however, I think I am more disappointed than I ever have been. While the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is inducting such worthy honourees as The Ronettes, R.E.M. and Patti Smith, they are also inducting Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. My objections to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are very basic. Quite simply, they are not rock and roll. They are not even close.
For those of you who have never heard of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, they are pioneers of the so called musical genre known as rap. Their single, "The Message," released in 1982, was among rap's earliest hits. Now I will admit that this makes Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five important to the history of rap, the fact remains that rap is an entirely different genre from rock and as a result the importance of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on the history of rock music is negligible. In my mind, including them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be like including Guy Lombardo or Merle Haggard. They may be important figures in their own respective genres of music, but they are not rock and roll.
What makes me angrier about this is that there are still many deserving artists who are clearly rock acts that have yet to be inducted into the Hall of the Fame. KISS had an enormous impact on Heavy Metal music and, for better or worse, the hair bands of the Eighties, but they are still not part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Judas Priest sparked the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, yet they have never been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Cheap Trick is perhaps the most famous Power Pop band around, with a history spanning over 25 years and a cult following, but they have never been inducted either. The Moody Blues have had a lasting impact on progressive rock and orchestral rock, but they still are not part of the Hall of Fame. To induct a rap group, which has had no impact on rock music, but not to induct important rock groups that have, is a slap in the face to these groups and their fans alike.
Admittedly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted individuals that I would not consider rock artists before and whose contributions to rock music were minimal at best, non-existent at worst. While I admit Miles Davis was a great talent, he was hardly a rock musician. And while I have always loved Bob Marley, I am not sure that reggae qualifies as rock and roll any more than rap. Still, I had hoped that this year perhaps the Hall of Fame would clean up their act and stick to purely rock acts. That they didn't cannot help but make me unhappy. I can't help but think that perhaps rock music needs another Hall of Fame, one whose definition of rock and roll isn't quite so broad as to include artists who obviously are not rock. As it is, next year I have to wonder if I can't look forward to Ludwig Von Beethoven and Buck Owens joining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...