Well, here it is – the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place tonight! It will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for the third time. Presented by Klipsch Audio, the ceremony will be broadcast on cable channel HBO, and will also be aired on SiriusXM. From the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website:
“Artists are eligible for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first recording. The 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Performer Inductees were chosen by more than 900 voters, as well as the aggregate results of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s online fan vote. The top five artists from the fan vote comprised the Fans’ Ballot that was tallied alongside the other ballots to determine the 2017 Inductees. Four of the winners of the Fans’ Ballot (ELO, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Yes) will be inducted as performers in 2017…Klipsch Audio, a leading global speaker and headphone manufacturer, is a strategic partner and presenting sponsor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, its Induction Ceremony events and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Main Stage. Klipsch’s renowned products deliver the power, detail and emotion of the live music experience throughout the iconic museum.”
Six bands / artists are in the Performer Category, and one musician / producer won the Award for Musical Excellence. For this “Five on Friday” post, I will list the ones who have made the biggest impression on me in my life with their music. I’ll do it “Top 40” style, listing them from fifth to first – so, here we go!
The band Journey is at number five for me. They were big in the 80s, with many great hits such as “Lights,” “Send Her My Love,” “Oh Sherrie,” and, of course, the well-known smash “Don’t Stop Believin’.” From Wikipedia:
“Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest commercial success occurred between 1978 and 1987. During that period, the band released a series of hit songs, including “Don’t Stop Believin'” (1981), which in 2009 became the top-selling track in iTunes history among songs not released in the 21st century. Its parent studio album, Escape, the band’s eighth and most successful, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and yielded another of their most popular singles, “Open Arms”. Its 1983 follow-up album, Frontiers, was almost as successful in the United States, reaching No. 2 and spawning several successful singles; it broadened the band’s appeal in the United Kingdom, where it reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart. Journey enjoyed a successful reunion in the mid-1990s and later regrouped with a series of lead singers.”
The Journey song that I selected for today is “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” – I love the guitar work in it!
Nile Rodgers, fourth on my list, is the genius behind the band Chic, described as a “sonic innovator” on his official website. Rock, funk, disco, and EDM – his notable riffs have been fundamental in all of those musical genres. I think that nearly everyone is familiar with the Chic smash hit “Freak Out / Le Freak,” but the song that I selected by them features Carly Simon on lead vocals. The song, called “Why,” had an instrumental-only version on the B-side of the single. I always enjoyed listening to the song and singing along, then flipping the record over and singing with the B-side – it was excellent practice for choir!
I was elated to see the band known as Yes finally get inducted! Their induction was long-overdue, and I know that I’m not the only one who thinks so. The progressive-rock band from London was originally formed in 1968 by singer Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire, and has undergone many formations over the years. Chris passed away on 28 June 2015 – you can find my tribute post to him here. I have enjoyed their music for as long as I can remember, and some of their music videos aired on MTV were ones that I looked forward to! “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was their biggest hit of the 80s, but I’d have to say that a good majority of their musical offerings are well-worth listening to. Transcendental, multi-layered, and semi-operatic are words that I would use to describe this fantastic band. The song that I selected is one of my personal favourites: “Love Will Find a Way.”
Number two on my top five list is the Seattle grunge-rock super-group, Pearl Jam. I first saw them at a downtown Seattle club called The Vogue, and was instantly hooked on their style of music! They, along with groups such as Nirvana and Soundgarden, placed Seattle back on the musical map. The city is now known for more than rain and the Pike Place Market, I’d say! The song that I selected is “Even Flow” – I love the lyrics and the musical arrangement, and Eddie Vedder’s voice is sublime.
Finally – number one on my list of the 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees! That honour goes to the supergroup known as the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). This band formed in Birmingham in 1970. I think that I’ve heard more songs by ELO than almost any other artist or band, and that’s saying a lot! I’ve listened to hours of The Moody Blues, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac, to name just of few of the many artist that I enjoy. I think that the first song of theirs that I heard was down at a little, local burger joint called The Snack Shack. I was walking past on a fairly nice summer day and heard an awesome beat and crazy sounds drifting out of the open door. I wandered in and looked at the jukebox to see what song was playing; it was “Don’t Bring Me Down.” I had a couple of quarters on me, so I played the other two ELO selections offered on the machine: “Telephone Line” and “Twilight,” respectively, and I was hooked on them from then on. My dad had started working at the local radio station at that time, and he liked playing “Rockaria” and their rendition of “Roll Over Beethoven” quite often! I never saw the movie “Xanadu,” but absolutely loved the ELO-backed soundtrack. The ELO song that I chose is “Evil Woman,” of course – it’s one that I always crank up and rip the knob off when I hear that familiar opening of the stringed orchestra. Such a versatile band, more than deserving of their induction!
Last, but certainly not least, I’m very happy that Tupac Shakur was also finally inducted. Many will disagree with him being honoured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but I think that he deserves it as much as Joan Baez – if not more so! From Rolling Stone:
“Two decades after his death on September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur endures as one of hip-hop’s most iconic figures and its most powerful enigma. His life was a tapestry of often contradictory images: the concerned young father cradling his son in the video for “Keep Ya Head Up”; the angry rapper spitting at cameras as they swirled around his 1994 trial for sexual assault; the artist who animatedly, yet eloquently, pushed back at Ed Gordon’s questions during a memorable BET interview; and the man who seemed to predict his own demise when the “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” video, released weeks after his death, depicted him as an angel in heaven. Although he is no longer with us, the myth of 2Pac the thug angel remains. No other artist better illuminates hip-hop’s fault lines between regional pride and mainstream success, and the struggle to transcend and elevate beyond humble origins while honoring the streets that raised you. His wayward, conflicting expressions of pride, militancy and gangster-ism resonates in a world when black men and women celebrate their heritage and collectively organize against a racist America, yet are also cautious to protect themselves from each other.
Fans – particularly East Coast rap listeners who, after all these years, still harbor a grudge against him – will continue to debate whether 2Pac’s albums can measure up to Nas’ Illmatic, the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, or Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt. But no one can deny the way he transformed hip-hop into his singularly muscular, tattooed, bald-headed, bandana-clad image.”
Love him, hate him, or even if you’re completely indifferent – there is no denying Tupac’s influence and sheer genius. I wonder what music he would be putting out if he had lived to see the current social and political quagmire here in the USA? I’m betting that it would pull no punches, and would make more than a few people uncomfortable and angry. That is how it should be, in my not-so-humble opinion!