Well, the 2012 inductees have been announced, and it's now the time for everyone who pays attention to give their opinion.
My first thought was, "Crap, they leaked early again?!"
Second thought: No Spinners? Rats.
Third thought: Just what WILL it take to get Sister Rosetta Tharpe inducted as an Early Influence?
On that last point, there's an article on Future Rock Legends about why inducting Freddie King as an Early Influence is a bad idea. I highly recommend reading it. The only thing I can add to it for now, though I feel a separate entry about the subject brewing up inside my fingers waiting to be typed out, is that the Rock Hall has always been irregular about which blues players get in as a Performer, and which go in as an Early Influence, especially those blues players that were around at the dawn of rock and roll. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Ruth Brown, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters are all Performer inductees, while Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, and Willie Dixon get the Early Influence inductions. What makes Freddie King so unique is that he had no releases before 1955 and never made any Billboard chart entry until 1960, so calling him "Early" by any stretch of the imagination just doesn't hold up.
None of that really addresses Sister Rosetta Tharpe, though. Simply put, after being featured in the Museum's "Women Who Rock" exhibit, Tharpe seemed like a lock. And we were ultimately disappointed.
Also disappointing, at least for me, was no Spinners. That's more just me. I love their music, I feel they're really deserving, but like Tom Lane said on his blog, they're bound to be back. You don't "one and done" a truly phenomenal soul group.
Don Kirshner getting the Ahmet Ertegun Award... I never would have guessed it. I figured his chances were about the same as bubblegum music magnates Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. Very pleasantly surprised.
It's worth noting that all three of the Musical Excellence Award recipients were primarily studio engineers, which strikes me as fascinating since we were unsure just WHAT was going to be done with this category. When it was announced last year, the Foundation said it opened the door for new possibilities that weren't there before. Honestly, I'm not seeing it so far. Why couldn't these three have been Non-Performer inductees as well as Kirshner? Is the mixing board enough like a musical instrument that these engineers are best placed in the category that used to be called Side-Man? Well, if nothing else, it seems more than likely that "Musical Excellence" is not just a more politically correct version of saying "Side-Man". And all three deserve it, especially Tom Dowd, but congratulations to Glyn Johns and Cosimo Matassa as well.
And now for the Performers who did make the grade. One thing that I feel absolutely must be pointed out is that this is the first time since 2006 that the repeat nominees constitute the majority of the inductees, four to two (three if you count King), which is two-thirds of the Performer inductees AND two-thirds of the repeat nominees getting in; the first-time nominees make up one-third of the Performer inductees and one-third of the first-time nominees are getting inducted. Also, with Guns N' Roses, Donovan, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Small Faces/the Faces, and even the Beastie Boys and the spirit of Laura Nyro in the room too, we're sure to have one hell of an all-star jam at the end of the ceremonies (maybe one of Nyro's songs? Doubt it), if egos and old wounds don't interfere. Onto the class.
Guns N' Roses...everybody and their Aunt Ruthie called that one correctly. And I'm proud that I'm one of the very few who correctly predicted Laura Nyro as well. Unfortunately, that's the extent of my correct guesses. Still I can't be too sad. I love the Beastie Boys and Donovan, so I'm glad they're in. In a past entry, I wrote how I loathe the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but in the entry before that one, I also admitted that they were probably the most objectively deserving act on the ballot. It's like when a referee or umpire makes the possibly tough and probably unpopular, but ultimately right call that ends up hurting your team (Suh, you don't kick another player, dangit). They deserve to be in. These three are also loads off my mind in terms of wrenching my predictions in the past. Both of the Beastie Boys' previous nominations and the lone previous nominations of both Donovan and the Red Hot Chili Peppers saw me place them as pretty strong locks. Now the year I don't pick them, all three make it. But as I said in my recap on the Chili Peppers, I have no idea how they missed out in 2010 either. I won't question why now and not then, just glad that it's over for those three, all deserving members.
Which brings us to The Small Faces/The Faces. I have to phrase it gingerly, to make sure I'm not misunderstood. Their joint nomination has been wildly unpopular, especially with member of both incarnations Ian McLagan. And with them getting inducted like this, it's bound to spur further joint nominations, an idea to which many of us Monitors are not particularly receptive. Add to that the fact that they were the last band to be leaked out. Early reports only mentioned the other five, and that was all we expected, since that's all they've inducted for the past six years, and voters only got to vote for up to five. The fact that The Small Faces/The Faces were excluded initially by the leaks leads me to believe that they finished sixth in the voting and would normally have been left out. Naturally I don't know for fact. I can only speculate. Maybe the votes ran so close and they decided not to shaft the close contender. Maybe there was tie for fifth, and rather than cast a tie-breaker, Jann S. Wenner decided to allow six Performer inductees this time.
Whatever the circumstances, however the votes totaled, we have six Performer inductees. To which I say, good. Ultimately, one of the chief complaints about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, after the usual who's not in complaints, is that they simply don't induct enough acts each year. Maybe we can get them to push this number back up to seven, or higher.
Just induct them in the right categories.