Thursday, May 23, 2019

A View from the Peanut Gallery

A View from the Peanut Gallery 

The Rock Hall Induction Criteria—Does This Subjective, Arbitrary “Standard” Echo the Beginnings of Rock When Artists Were Marginalized?

Initially, I don’t believe this was the intent. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was at first a DREAM—a vision of men and women whose primary purpose was to honor not just musicians, but all of those who gave so much to build and expand the industry. By reaching milestones of both artistic and commercial success that advanced the medium, the bar was raised artistically, economically, and socially for those to come. Unfortunately, that is not their mission. 

I'm finding it difficult to arrive at a positive reason for which The Rock Hall chose to establish a more subjective and arbitrary standard for nominations and induction instead of existing and recognized criteria already being utilized by other Hall of Fames. Somehow, The Rock Hall saw fit to reinvent the wheel and established precarious guidelines void of tedious and mundane facts, milestones, and statistics.

I imagine vetted data and factual evidence of achievements would hinder one's ability to honor those who would not endure actual standards and impartial scrutiny, hindering The Rock Hall from continuing their nepotism. The inconsistent actions of these voyeurs of Rock & Roll are suspect, and unfortunately reminiscent, of the carpet baggers who arrived on the Rock scene in its infancy. Reflecting on those opportunists who viewed not only this new genre, but also the young musicians who created it as naive and vulnerable, maneuvered many into unethical contracts leaving behind broken dreams and empty pockets. Those were the days when Rock & Roll was similar to war in that it was built on the backs of the disposable. 

The reality is these individuals are still prevalent in and around music. Sadly, it appears some have found a home at The Rock Hall. They exhibit a Pavlovian dislike, and visceral reaction, to hugely successful artists that in their view are insignificant, commercial, or not eligible for reasons only they are privy to. It has been noted there are individuals at The Rock Hall who frown upon artists who didn't pen their own material; thereby ignoring the historical evidence that early Rock records were actually covers of old blues songs and standards from previous generations adapted to fit this new genre! 

The alliance between writers and artists helped build 
what is now Rock & Roll!

Even so, many great Rock & Roll artists who did not write their music rightfully avoided this scrutiny and have been inducted. The list includes Jackie Wilson, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley—“The King,” The Temptations, The Supremes, The O'Jays, The Drifters, and The Four Tops to name a few.

That being said, the subjective nature of the induction process opens the door for prejudice, favoritism and compromise, which affords all concerned the flexibility to ignore their own guidelines and predilections. 

Another unfortunate fact is that many artists who were instrumental in creating and furthering the different genres that made up Rock & Roll in its infancy are being passed over simply because of their limited ability to sell tickets to the Induction Ceremony. One year, a Doo Wop group was bumped, even though they had more votes than the act which replaced them. In 2007, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, who are ARGUABLY NOT Rock & Roll and barely fulfilled the 25-year eligibility criteria, were inducted for their ability to fill seats!

Even The Beatles had to wait seven years after 
they were eligible to be inducted!

Musicians who have given their lives to making music, having been blessed with illustrious careers, expanding the boundaries of the genre, are once again faced with those who would marginalize and cheat them! 

Rolling Stone Cover Story 

On September 14, 1972, Rolling Stone magazine’s cover stated:

More Gold Than The Stones! 
Bigger Crowds Than Creedence! 
Fatter Purses Than Elvis!

12 Gold Records in three years
83,000 people in three concerts
$125,000 in 60 minutes

If there were standards of excellence, specific achievements that must be attained to qualify for induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what would they be?

  • 55 million records sold
  • 18 Top Twenty hits
  • 21 Top Forty hits in a row
  • 7 Platinum singles
  • 12 Platinum albums 
  • 8 Number One records as shown on the Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World charts, reflecting the Top 100, Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, and R & B charts  
  • Created stadium touring 
  • Discovered and shined a light on some of the most influential writers of our time, including

Randy Newman              Paul Williams                 Daniel Moore
John Hiatt                      Leo Sayer                       Hoyt Axton
Laura Nyro                     David Loggins                Harry Nilsson 
Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Unfortunately, the aforementioned achievements are irrelevant since

Statistics are NOT relevant!

The Rock Hall elitists opt to play by their own rules and would rather perish than honor those they see as the bourgeoisie. Furthermore, they feel Gold and Platinum Awards, industry milestones, and record-breaking achievements are inappropriate guidelines for acceptance to The Rock Hall, but instead prefer conjecture, opinion, personal taste, and the artists’ influence on Rock & Roll which is totally subjective. Sadly, those with obvious credentials, but less cachet than these luminaries are comfortable with, are never even put on the ballot!  

The following is not an artistic judgment, but merely a comment on the inconsistent and ambiguous voting guidelines 
employed by The Rock Hall.

 I praise all the inductees for being honored by a business that has been known to take more than it gives.

The Velvet Underground never had a charted record on the Billboard, Cashbox, or World Record Top 100 charts.  They weren’t a successful touring act either; however, they are enshrined in The Rock Hall due to their contribution to furthering Rock & Roll. If the reality is that virtually no one bought their album or saw them live (I did!), then I’d like to know how their influence on Rock & Roll was calculated and determined?

Throughout the years, Rock and Pop became so sophisticated in its production, song writing, and artistic performances that it was literally out of reach for most aspiring musicians. We lost sight of the days when Rock wasn't tethered to one's limitations or musical expertise, writing, or vocal skills for Rock & Roll was born of rhyme, soul, young love, heartbreak, rebellion, raw passion, and all things innovative. 

The listener was tuned in and turned on by how the music made them feel as much as the vocal and musical mastery of the messenger.

Inevitably, the freedom which Rock & Roll encouraged from its beginning, coupled with overproduced records and manufactured artists, opened the door for Iggy Pop, The Ramones, and The Sex Pistols—all of whom became an intricate part of a blossoming new music. 

Often an artist’s persona is defined as much by their shortcomings as their assets for that's what makes them unique. You don't have to possess the ability to dunk to play basketball!

Warren Zevon, a roommate of mine in the 80s, said to me after hearing a Grateful Dead song on the radio, “This is music for people who hate music!”
So many points of view derived from different perspectives and levels of expertise. Ones man's Beatles is another's Velvet Underground! 

A Synchronicity of Influences

I put forward this hypothesis:

Music and musicians are all connected and influenced by the many varying genres, artists, and writers who came before us.

We have inevitably been influenced and emulated an artist we have never seen or heard. We are inspired by musicians mimicking those artists, over and over again as one artist is inspired by another and so on, etc., ad infinitum

Each new sound, new song, or new artist is composed of a cornucopia of musical influences presented in a fresh new way! We are all linked by our love and respect for music as well as the individuals that bring it to life. To give credit to a specific musician or group for their musical influence might be lacking in historical perspective for we influence each other. 

That being said, there are always leaders, the best of the best, 
who we all learn from!

It's all connected. We're all connected.

In the 1940s, girl groups were embraced by our soldiers in Europe, in the South Pacific, and at home. The Andrews Sisters, Boswell Sisters, and The Chordettes established a formula that female groups would emulate for decades to come! The 1950s and early 1960s girl groups were in heavy rotation on every AM station in the country. The Shirelles, The Chantelles, The Shangri-Las, and The Ronettes led the way for The Bangles, En Vogue, Destiny’s Child, and The Spice Girls in future generations.

The Golden Gate Quartet, a 1930s vocal group, was credited with pioneering the Jubilee Gospel sound as well as influencing Doo Wop vocal groups to come. The 1940s gave us The Mills Brothers, The Four Vagabonds, and The Ink Spots setting the stage for Doo Wop groups that helped define the 1950s and early 1960s including The Cadillacs, Five Satins, Drifters, The Passions, and Dion & The Belmonts. Jazz and Pop influenced The Skyliners, who wrote their own hits, featured one of the most unique, lead vocalists of the day—Jimmy Beaumont, and were followed by The Dells, Stylistics, Chi-Lites, Four Seasons, and Manhattan Transfer from the mid-1960s and 1970s that then inspired the phenomenon of "Boy Bands" from the 1990s into the new millennium.

The 1960s Rock grew by expanding not only musically, but became socially relevant. The musicians of this generation forged ahead creating astonishing new sounds on their instruments that advanced their music to an extraordinary level of skill and commercial success. Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton established an exciting and unique sound born in part by R & B, early Rock, Country, Rockabilly, and the great Blues artists from the past and present that included Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and B. B. King.

The Rock Hall Background

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded on April 20, 1983, by Atlantic Records President, Ahmet Ertegun. Since The Rock Hall started, Atlantic (or Atco) Records represents 17% of the artists who have been inducted into The Rock Hall.

Following Atlantic Records, we have:
  •        Columbia Records, 12%
  •        Warner Bros., 11%
  •       Capitol Records, 10%
  •       RCA, 6%

The thousands of remaining record companies make up the remainder of those inducted into The Rock Hall.

Sadly, the continuation of bias, as well as the lack of credible criteria, for nominations still thrives. This is an acceptance of mediocrity perpetuated and immortalized by those too affected to be impartial.

It comes to mind that a comparison can be drawn between The Rock Hall and The Fight Game, or boxing. The similarities being that boxing has criteria for establishing the winner, but these criteria can also be subjective. At times, when put in the hands of those who have an agenda, the outcome is questionable, unfair, and not embraced by the public as a legitimate endeavor in spite of the extraordinary talent involved.  

This is how many now view THE ROCK HALL!


  1. David Cassidy....I cant understand why he isnt in the rock n roll hall of fame. He meets all the criteria except being a clive davies puppet

  2. Hi Chuck, Such a well written and thought out article ! Your words hit the nail right on the head! Without a doubt, you & Three Dog Night should be at the top of the list for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, It infuriates me that you are not in the Hall. I do not support their actions or their ways of selection into the Hall. It is all a joke! Any way that I can help you get in let me know. Best of luck to you, you deserve the recognition for what you have accomplished. A fellow musician & fan, Mark Dixon

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  5. Ami and Chuck I have written and complained about the lack of inclusion for "Three Dog Night" over and over on several occasions. I just posted the following comment again:

    If this is your criteria why has "Three Dog Night" never been inducted. They surpassed all of the criteria you list on your page. Hands down, they were one of the biggest bands out there from 1967 and are still performing today. Sadly three of the primary artists in the band have passed. What are you waiting for, do you intend to induct all of them posthumously. This is not the first time I have requested your attention to this overlooked, amazing group of musicians and their lack of inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That being said please honor the members who are still working tirelessly for their fans and still not being recognized. Thank you Carol Stratton

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  7. Artfully written, insightful, and sadlyspot on, Chuck. If Three Dog Night doesn't measure up, they should close their doors. God bless.

  8. I'm 54 years old, an avid record collector, and have made most of my living in radio. The first album I ever purchased was Around the World with Three Dog Night. I was 8. Three Dog Night remains at the top of my list to this day. I had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Wells once, and he passed the HOF's TDN slight off as "political", but I thought "what a shame" at the time, and of course, now he's gone. Shame on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Having spent my teen years in the late 70s, early 80s, I submit this list of artists' to point out Three Dog Night need not feel alone in their quandary: Doobie Brothers (they seem to fit every criteria, including the ever worn, yet relevant "unique sound" category, yet for reasons unknown, they're not in yet), Warren Zevon, Boston, Grand Funk Railroad, Pat Benatar, Styx, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Marshall Tucker Band, Bad Company, Free, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne as a solo act, Kansas, Monkees, and the beat...and the list goes on...

    1. So true humble pie canned heat should be in too

    2. How Paul Rodgers is not in is absurd. You belong Chuck.

  9. And please do not forget amboy Dukes and Ted Nugent.

  10. Well after years and years they finally put in the Moody Blues who like TDN has had great results in the biz.
    I think I freaked when I heard they got in.

  11. After many years of voting it seems my votes are cast by the wayside. We are the ones that bought the records , bought tickets for the concerts, hung our Tiger Beat posters of our favorite groups on our bedroom walls, called our favorite djs to request our favorite songs! And now to get on line every single day to vote for our favorite artists only to have our votes and voices not heard by the RRHF. Nothing but politics of whom they want in. Smh. I’ve even tried for years to get my father in law nominated for the Broadcasters Hall of Fame since he was at WOWO Radio for over 35 years as a dj spinning all the kids favorite 45’s and doing record hops in the 50, 60, 70, and early 80’s to no avail. But to have rap and hip hop and literally unknowns that haven’t proven themselves by maybe having one song get in is a tragedy. Time to clean up the boardroom and get new people that truly appreciates music or better yet start a new museum. Just my opinion. Three Dog along with other great artists from our generation should be in there. If you’ve ever gone there and see some of the greats that are there you can appreciate their hard work and talent of being there.

  12. The Rock Hall is a joke! There are groups and individuals who have much better credentials than many of the artists inducted and deserve to be enshrined. Artists such as Tommy James and the Shondells, Bad Company, Manfred Mann, The Guess Who, Three Dog Night all get the short end of the stick. Solo artists such as Johnny Hallyday (The French Elvis)and Cliff Richard never even get mentioned. Want a long shot? How about Glenn Campbell? A member of the Champs and Beach Boys, how many records did he appear on as a studio musician? Hundreds? And how many doo-wop groups have gotten shafted because they only had one hit record? Yet were it not for them, rock and roll wouldn't have become what it did. When you start inducting rap groups - which definitely are not rock and roll - you're bypassing too many influential groups that are truly worthy of being inducted in favor of those whom Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner think should be inducted, so why not re-name the Rock Hall "Jann Wenner's Rock Hall of Fame?" As long as worthy groups/singers are ignored in favor of lesser talents (Joan Baez is a folk singer for cryin' out loud!!), I'll forget about making a trip to Cleveland and will turn up my stereo and listen to those who deserve to be enshrined.

  13. This is such an accurate assessment Chuck, and it saddens me. There are so many, many worthy groups and people who have made such additions to rock and roll as I grew up with it, and it's changes that there are too many to name, yet groups such as the Zombies (whom I do like) can get in with THREE songs? Yes, they were good songs, and I have heard that their album was successful, but come on, there were many more influential groups and individuals. Now that rap has been added, I no longer think of it as a rock and roll hall of fame, and have lost all respect for it. If anyone should be inducted it is you and the group. I would say that they are looking for someone dark and heavy with meaning, but you would still fit, and some of the ones you mentioned fit that criteria too. I think the hall is a sham for the ones who make the decisions and get paid to do the concert.

  14. So very difficult for humans to distinguish personal taste from talent, creativity, and contribution. A child of the 50's, 60's, 70's, I love everything about rock/pop...but I personally hated Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Queen, and many other iconic groups and individuals that are clearly well deserving of hall of fame induction for their contributions to rock/pop. When the criteria is less than clear it's simply a matter of the personal taste of those voting as well as political ability to garner as many votes as possible. Being a restaurant owner, much like music, our contributions are constantly reviewed according to a huge variety of individual tastes with some saying we're awful and others saying we belong in the food hall of fame (were there such a thing.) In my personal view, 3DN is like the best cut of prime rib you can find out there and some already in the hall are like a lukewarm veggie burger...but then, some people don't eat meat...

  15. "The Skyliners, who wrote their own hits, featured one of the most unique, lead vocalists of the day—Jimmy Beaumont, and were followed by The Dells..."
    NOT TRUE. The DELLS were around YEARS before The Skyliners!! They've been around since 1952 !!!

  16. 90% of Motown performers would be disqualified for the hall of fame if the requirement were writing your own songs.

    One of TDN’s great songs was “One” written by Harry Nilsson. I’m a fan of Nilsson but his performance of “One” is insipid, reminiscent of a lounge lizard ballad.

    TDN and Chuck, most notably, breathed life, energy and power into “One”. I’m sure Chuck has heard this repeatedly, but he has the quintessential rock voice. Instantly recognizable Chuck is in a very small group that includes Freddie Mercury. Chuck and Freddie both have the ability to mesmerize us with a compelling ballad and then knock our socks off belting out a high intensity rock anthem.

  17. Dear Chuck, your thoughts and concerns on this matter are excellently stated by you and I have much appreciation and love for you and your contributions to the MUSIC WORLD..Thanks for opening my eyes to the infuriating slight suffered by you and those DESERVING..I mean who didn’t know JERMIAH WAS A BULLFROG as a child or otherwise? I DID! GOD BLESS YOU for forever being a part of my always Lisa E Fury ��

  18. I live in Ohio but I will never go visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the simple reason that they are excluding three of my favorite, WELL DESERVING music groups for some kind of prejudice.
    The groups that I am referring to are The Association, The Doobie Brothers and Three Dog Night.
    Until they make some major corrections, they are nothing more than a money wasting joke!!!!

  19. Chuck, big fan of Three Dog Night, here. Used to collect your 45s back 69-73. I've been telling people for decades now (yes decades) that Three Dog Night deserves to be in the rock and roll hall of fame as much as any other artist (and, truth be told, more so than quite a few who have been inducted, but I won't be rude and mention names). 69-74 you guys owned the charts and radio and deservedly so. Your songs were/are excellent. As you point out, Elvis didn't pen his material and neither did most of Motown, and my favorite Stones recordings are their first 5 albums where they covered other artists work. What can I say. We know the truth. We have a nice open mike music jam scene here in Vegas and I have been encouraging several of my friends - all excellent singers - to start trying their hand at your work. They are warming up to it. Anyway, from a fan in Vegas, have a good day.

    BTW Chuck, where did you live in the Bronx? I lived a few years in Bedford Park, up off the Concourse. I liked it up there. Had good times there.

  20. You are absolutely right Chuck. Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Doobie Brothers and Tommy James and the Shondells should be the the next induction class. BTW, you and Tommy James have much in common, both penning books with fascinating stories.

  21. The R&RHOF should be renamed: Jan Wormers Hall of Fame.

  22. Such a slap in the face for a band that paved the way for so many. Chuck just know to your fans TDN will always be our Hall of Famer.