Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vocally adrenalizing the Hall

First off, sorry about the Glee reference.  I’m not even sure I’m gonna continue watching next season, since their Continuity Department’s office is clearly the one with the crescent moon on the door.  Second, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame isn’t the only Hall Of Fame that I’ve kept track of.  It’s the only one that I do anymore, but until its closing up shop after their 2007 induction announcements, I kept tabs on the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame.  As the name indicates, it was all about the groups that, even if it wasn’t their prime asset, made excellent use of vocal harmonies as part of their music.  Unlike the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, there was no separation of categories like Early Influence and Performers, though they did make a point to induct a set number of inductees from decade-eras; and no arrangers or producers were ever inducted, so no Non-Performers, or Sidemen either. 

As with every Hall Of Fame, there are some no-brainers that were inducted within the first year or two: the Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers, the Revelers, and so on.  And there were some that can be considered real dome-scratchers, and I’ll let you decide for yourselves who those are.  But what is interesting is the amount of crossover between the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  And also some of the inductees that are in the Vocal Hall that people are angry at the Rock Hall for snubbing for so long. 

As happens every year of late, when the nominees are announced, people are upset at the choices and someone invariably says something to the effect of “Are they just running out of ideas for worthy acts now?”  Well, all you have to do is look at the list of the 35 past nominees not in yet, as well as the more comprehensive list on the Future Rock Legends website of those who’ve been brought up at NomCom discussions of yore, and you see that the well is anything but dry.  Still, when compared with the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame, you get a pretty good-sized list of those artists that would make the list of crossover acts bigger and still pretty respectable, at the very least decent.  Looking at the ten years of Vocal Group Hall Of Fame inductions, we can see:

Class of 1998:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: the Beach Boys; Crosby, Stills, And Nash (the Rock Hall didn’t induct Neil Young in this effort, but the Vocal Hall did); the Drifters (the Vocal Hall separated the two eras and had two inductions in different years), the Orioles, the Platters, and the Supremes

-Maybe should also include: the Ravens have been considered one of the biggest omissions in the Early Influence category for sometime now, and to a lesser degree, the efforts of the Mills Brothers have garnered some discussion for the same category.  Both of these would make good-to-excellent Early Influence inductions.

Class of 1999:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: Hank Ballard And The Midnighters, the Coasters, the Four Seasons, the Four Tops, the Ink Spots, the Jackson Five, Little Anthony And The Imperials, the Moonglows, and the Temptations

-Maybe should also include: Peter, Paul, And Mary are one of those artists that most would agree don’t neatly fit into the category “rock’n’roll” or even “folk rock”, but most would agree that there’s probably also a well-deserved spot for them in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, so let’s add them to the list.  And don’t forget this past ballot’s miss-outs, the Spinners.  I was ecstatic about their nomination, and I’m fairly convinced that they’re gonna get in the next time they’re on the ballot, whenever that may be.

Class of 2000:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: the Drifters (the Ben E. King era, simultaneously inducted with the Clyde McPhatter era in 1988), the Flamingos, Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers, The Mamas And The Papas, and the Soul Stirrers.

-Maybe should also include: While Dion is in, the Belmonts are not.  I personally think Dion is absolutely deserving as a solo artist, as “Runaround Sue”, in my opinion, is constructed upon the quintessential rock’n’roll melody.  While there might be another special committee next year to bypass normal procedures to induct the Belmonts, I hope they don’t.  I think Dion should get a second induction with his former group.  This would be optimal, in my opinion.  Aside from them, I’d also recommend the Dixie Hummingbirds.  I don’t necessarily want to see every pre-rock gospel group get in as an Early Influence, but take one listen to “Bedside Of A Neighbor” and you’ll see that this one would make a prime Early Influence candidate.  Similar to Peter, Paul, And Mary; the Kingston Trio are another fairly non-rock folk group that many still believe has earned a spot in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Lastly, while not the most glaring omission, inducting Three Dog Night for their diverse line of good time rock’n’roll would not be the worst decision the Rock Hall could make.

Class of 2001:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: the BeeGees, the Eagles, Gladys Knight And The Pips, and the Miracles

-Maybe should also include: like the Class of 1998, the best choices are two potential candidates for the Early Influence category.  The Four Freshmen have been cited as an important influence by the likes of Brian Wilson, Bob Gaudio, and Levi Stubbs.  If the Ink Spots could get inducted in the Rock Hall as an Early Influence because vocal R&B groups of the ‘50s patterned their singing styles after the Ink Spots, there’s no reason to exclude the Four Freshmen.  With the special committee inductions that occurred this year, the most glaring, still uncorrected case of front man fever is now the Weavers.  The four of them all wrote together, were all stigmatized by McCarthyism, and helped give birth to the folk revival that helped spur folk-rock music in the ‘60s.  They should also probably be inducted in due course.

Class of 2002:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: ABBA, and the Shirelles

-Maybe should also include: the Chantels have been nominated twice and might get in eventually.  The Clovers should be inducted as a Performer, but after Wanda Jackson and Freddie King, it’s more likely they’ll get in as an Early Influence.  While never having been nominated, both the Five Keys and the Harptones are on the list of those who’ve been seriously considered, and could appear some year when you least expect them.  Lastly, with the psychedelic anthem of “Age Of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In”. as well as a steady string of R&B/Pop crossover hits, it seems almost inevitable that the Fifth Dimension are going to make the cut one of these years.

Class of 2003:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: Earth, Wind, And Fire; the Impressions, the Isley Brothers, and Martha And The Vandellas

-Maybe should also include: The Commodores are one of the last Motown groups that ring of “classic Motown” and could be inducted, though it doesn’t seem like it’ll be anytime soon.  Danny And The Juniors is one I’d personally like to see, though I know there aren’t too many who agree with me.  Like the Commodores, the Five Satins have also been seriously considered in the past, and while I wouldn't ever vote for them, there are worse representatives for ‘70s and ‘80s R&B-dance music than the Whispers, so don’t write them off completely either.

Class of 2004:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: the Beatles, the Dells, the Everly Brothers, the O’Jays, and the Ronettes

-Maybe should also include: for classic rock fans, we have the Doobie Brothers, though the Michael MacDonald era is out of favor with them.  Meanwhile, I think the Jordanaires would make excellent inductees for the Sideman category, or Award For Musical Excellence if you will.  Meanwhile, the Miracles’ induction may finally make a few powers-that-be do a double take and say, “Wait, we haven’t gotten the Marvelettes in either?”  A truly important group right there.  The Stylistics would make a decent soul candidate down the line, eventually.  However, the stage in this year is most of all a cornucopia of doo-wop prospects.  For starters, the powerhouse group the Diamonds would make great representatives, as would my pet cause of the Tokens. If there’s a true one-hit wonder that still deserves Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction, it’s the Penguins, though I personally wouldn’t include them.  And it’d be a shame to never find some way to induct the incredibly talented Johnny Maestro, so I’d choose the Crests as the best avenue of finally honoring this man as well.

Class of 2005:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: Fleetwood Mac, the Rascals, and the Righteous Brothers

-Maybe should also include: let’s start with the girl groups.  The Crystals seem like an inevitability at this point, but may take a couple years while all the comments cutting them down to elevate Darlene Love’s case slowly fade from collective memory.  The Chiffons are also a decent-to-prime candidate.  Don’t forget the Pointer Sisters, either, who would well represent ‘70s and ‘80s dance music, once they finally induct Donna Summer.  Outside edge would be the Angels, who I personally wouldn’t induct, but may pop up anyway.  Beyond girl groups, we also have the Neville Brothers who recently joined the list of the seriously considered and is a favorite candidate of fellow Rock Hall Monitor Tom Lane.  My weak spot for  ‘70s soul wants to see the Chi-Lites get in eventually; and doo-wop has another great candidate in the form of the Del-Vikings, and another decent but possibly outside candidate of the Spaniels, who helped bring Vee-Jay records to its brief, but revered place in music history.

Class of 2006:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: the Byrds, the Hollies, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Queen, and Simon And Garfunkel

-Maybe should also include: the Dominoes have been nominated once before, and will probably get crammed into the Early Influence category, which wouldn’t be as bad a decision as putting Freddie King there, and would also make Clyde McPhatter and possibly Jackie Wilson the first candidates to get inducted in two different categories.  The Shangri-Las are another girl group that many would like to see in and have also been seriously considered by the NomCom as well.  Of course, the elephants in this room are that of Americana epitome band Journey, and even moreso the prog pioneers and much-longer snubbed group the Moody Blues.  Even some of the powers-that-be have admitted that the Moody Blues should probably be in, but just don’t like them enough to ever vote for them. Still, this is probably the biggest act that the Vocal Hall has over the Rock Hall at this point.

Class of 2007:
-Already also in the Rock Hall: Sam And Dave, and Sly And The Family Stone

-Maybe should also include: Kool And The Gang are an R&B outfit that aren’t a widely popular choice, but they’re not widely unpopular either.  They’d be a decent-to-respectable group to include.  With the recent death of Davy Jones, you can bet the Monkees are more than ever a group that folks want to see gets inducted.  And if “unquestionable musical excellence” is truly the ultimate measuring stick for a candidate’s merits for the Rock Hall, then on the heels of the Spinners should be Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes, who gave us some of the most amazing and flawless Philly soul.  While presently perceived as a tremendous long shot, that musical excellence criterion may also be used to justify the possible induction of the Traveling Wilburys, down the line…maybe at the end of the line (sorry).

So there we go.  Most of you probably don’t agree with most of what I said, but I’ll bet most of you have a few from my suggestions that you agree with as well.  As always, I look forward to your comments.  If you want to check it out further for yourself, the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame’s website is still up at   Click on the “Inductees” link and put together a supplement if you think I ignored anybody important.  The nominees for the classes of 2008 and 2009 that never happened included a lot of good possibilities as well.


  1. James Brown & The Famous Flames should be in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame too.Why ? 1) They're deserving.2)They just got inducted into the Rock Hall, and 3) They are a VOCAL GROUP...NOT A "BAND".It's high time these men got their due, 'cause JB stiffed them out of fame, notoriety, and MONEY.

  2. By the way, Philip, Detroit has been trying to get the Vocal Group hall of Fame for a few years now.Maybe now they'll succeed. It's a much higher-profile city than Sharon, and with the Motown Museum there, maybe it'll work.!!!

  3. I don't see how they can induct james brown + famous flames if the hall isn't around any more...

  4. Cause Detroit's trying to get it moved there.

  5. Casey Kasem had a TV show about the Top 40. He listed the highest-charting vocal-harmony groups, and the highest-charting harmony duos. The only one in the top three of both lists was Simon & Garfunkel. Beating them in duos was Hall & Oates. Beating them in harmony groups overall were Mamas & Papas (#1 I think) and I think the Beach Boys (but I wouldn't swear to it).