On October 30 last I posted a story about having received my ballot papers for the 2015 inductees into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, mentioning that the nominees were The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Green Day, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, NWA, Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed, The Smiths, The Spinners, Sting, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers.
I was permitted to choose five from this list and I opted for The Smiths, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kraftwerk, leaving my fifth nomination open so that readers of Just Backdated could add their four penneth. In the event, Chic got the nod. I learned this week that the 2005 inductees will be Ringo Starr and The 5 Royals, neither of whom were on the ballot sheet but have presumably been chosen for historical reasons, together with the PB Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bill Withers.
So only two of my five nominees got the key of the door, with The Smiths, Kraftwerk and Chic left out in the rain. All this points to the usual American bias looming its head once again, but it might be that the shadowy folk that run this particular casino opted to avoid the likely complications that would arise if Morrissey and his old gang and the German electro-pioneers were selected. It’s no secret that relations within The Smiths are far from cordial and Morrissey, of course, could probably be relied upon to somehow upset the apple cart even if all was sweet and light in Smithdom. Meanwhile, Ralf Hütter has alienated the other three members of the classic Kraftwerk quartet by sustaining the lucrative franchise for his benefit alone so would probably not welcome the arrival of Florian, Karl and Wolfgang alongside him. Since the R'n'RHoF rules dictate that the original members of a group get inducted and are therefore likely to appear together on stage, any unpleasantness can be avoided simply by excluding these two acts.
I don’t begrudge The Paul Butterfield Blues Band whose guitarist Mike Bloomfield, a key contributor to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, deserves all the accolades that come his way. I don’t begrudge Joan Jett either, as she has toiled away honourably at the R&R rock face for years. Bill Withers is probably a sentimental choice but I’m a bit surprised by Green Day’s nomination. More to the point, as an article in this month’s Classic Rock magazine points out, many acts that have achieved enormous success worldwide – commercially far more than all those elected this year barring Ringo – have been ignored yet again. These include Iron Maiden, Yes, Def Leppard, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention (including, scandalously, Richard Thompson), Roxy Music and Deep Purple – all UK acts of course.
I’ve never been a fan of Maiden or Leppard but I once had a soft spot for Yes and Tull and, of course, wrote a book about Purple, while Roxy continue to thrill, as does Thompson – but that’s not the point. There is an obvious bias in favour of US acts and against HM, prog rock, glam and punk, especially if it came from the UK.
There’s not much I can do about this but I won’t stop voting, and I won’t stop complaining.