It’s That Time Of The Year Again…Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nominations

Class of 2020 encompasses nine first-time nominees, including Pat Benator, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and The Doobie Brothers

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has unveiled the class of 2020 nominees. Inevitably, this will respark the annual debate whether artists who fall outside the rock genre like Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. or Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan should have been nominated in the first place, or why certain rock bands or artists who have been eligible for many years once again did not make the class. But despite all the Rock Hall’s imperfections, the music nerd in me still gets excited. Following are the artists I dig the most among the nominations.

If you glanced at the subhead of this post, you already know where I’m going with this. Ladies first: Pat Benatar. Having been eligible since 2004, Benatar is one of the great female rock vocalists in my book. According to her bio published on the Rock Hall’s website, Benator is a classically trained mezzo-soprano who quit her job in 1971 to pursue a career in singing. In 1979, she met guitarist Neil Giraldo, and the two formed a long-lasting duo, established their own entertainment company, and are still performing to this day. Here’s Heartbreaker from Benatar’s debut album In The Heat Of The Night, which was released in August 1979. Co-written by Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade, the tune was her breakthrough single, climbing to no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The clip, which is from Benator’s 35th anniversary tour that took place in 2015, also throws in Ring Of Fire by Johnny Cash – fun to watch!

T. Rex, initially called Tyrannosaurus Rex, were formed as a psychedelic folk rock group by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan in 1967. In 1970, the band changed their name to T. Rex and began their transition toward glam rock, which first was on full display on their sixth studio album Electric Warrior from September 1971. The band went on to record six more albums until Bolan’s untimely death in a car accident in September 1997, just two weeks prior to his 30th birthday. T. Rex had many members over the years. From the line-up that existed at the time of Bolan’s death, it appears only Herbie Flowers (bass) and Tony Newman (drums) are still alive. Here’s what’s perhaps the band’s best known song, Get It On. Written by Bolan, it appeared on the Electric Warriors album. T. Rex have been eligible for the Rock Hall since 1993.

Next up: Thin Lizzy, a great band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1969, who has been eligible for a nomination since 1996. In particular, I dig them for their twin lead guitar harmonies. Until the band’s breakup in September 1983, Thin Lizzy released 12 studio albums. In January 1986, co-founding member, bassist, lead vocalist and principal songwriter Phil Lynott, who had been the group’s de facto leader, passed away from pneumonia and heart failure caused by sepsis. In March 1996, guitarist John Sykes, who had been part of Thin Lizzy’s final line-up, decided to revive the band. While he is no longer part of it, the group remains active to this day. Essentially, they are performing as their own tribute and except for a few live albums have not released any new records. In addition to their great guitar sound, one of the cool things about Thin Lizzy was the band’s interracial aspect – Lynott’s father was from British Guiana. His mom was from Dublin. The Boys Are Back In Town from Jailbreak, Thin Lizzy’s sixth studio album that appeared in March 1976, is a great example of the aforementioned twin lead guitars. On this song, they were played by Brian Robertson and Brian Downey.

As more frequent visitors of the blog know, I’m a fan of The Dobbie Brothers, so I was particularly pleased to see their nomination. The band had been eligible since 1996. What always attracted me to the Dobbies, which were founded in San Jose in 1970, was the combination of rock and their amazing three-part harmony singing. Two of the original vocalists, Tom Johnston (guitars, vocals, harmonica) and Patrick Simmons (guitar, vocals), remain part of the band’s current line-up. John McFee (guitars, pedal steel, violin, harmonica, vocals) has been a part of the group since 1979. I’ve seen the Dobbies twice over the past 20 years, most recently last year, and they still sound phenomenal. While I generally prefer the band’s early phase, here’s a great rocker from their 10th studio album Cycles released in May 1989: The Doctor, a tune co-written by Johnston, Charlie Midnight and Eddie Schwartz. The clip was captured during a concert in April 2017.

The induction ceremony will be held at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on May 2, 2020. It will be preceded by induction week with celebratory events and the opening of the 2020 inductee exhibit. Music fans can vote once a day from now on through January 10, 2020 and pick up to five nominees per ballot. The top five artists will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2020 inductees.

Sources: Wikipedia; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website; YouTube

13 thoughts on “It’s That Time Of The Year Again…Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nominations”

  1. Ah, yes. The Hall. Always fun, always fraught with drama. Firstly, I can’t believe J. Geils dropped off the list. Does that mean they’re gone forever? Either way, unconscionable. As to whom I will vote for, before I reveal my votes I will say that my methodology in the Hall is to vote NOT necessarily for my favorites per se (although some), but to vote exactly as if I were a voting member, trying to balance bands I like versus bands that maybe I didn’t like but who were influential in some way. It so happens this year that I like all the bands that I think should be in there. (And maybe that’s because I’m still being heavily swayed by who I want rather than objectively who belongs. Oh, well. )

    –Todd Rundgren – He was my first no-brainer choice. Didn’t even have to think about it.
    –Rufus/Chaka Kahn – They were a white rock band with a great black, female singer.
    –Doobie Brothers – Just saw ’em live. Well overdue.
    –Pat Benatar – Saw her live a few years back. Deserving
    –T. Rex. = the most influential glam band

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a pretty decent class. I always associated Rufus more with funk and R&B, not rock, but don’t know them very well. But based on their music I’ve heard, I wouldn’t have any problem seeing them being inducted. Their songs had great groove, and Chaka Kahn is one beast of a vocalist. So was Whitney Houston, btw, and if they would make it the Music Hall of Fame, she should definitely be in.

      I also would be happy if they inducted Todd Rundgren, no question!

      As for the J. Geils Band, do five prior nominations mean they are out? I agree that would be crazy!

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      1. Suggest getting out of your head any idea of whether or not a nominated band is ‘rock’ or not. That ship sailed a long time ago. A short list of great performers who are in the Hall and who are NOT rockers would include Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, Staple Singers, Miles Davis. Leonard Cohen.

        I’ve long since maintained it should be renamed (and why not?) The Hall of Popular Music. And then people could be inducted into certain categories (rock, funk, etc.) and then we’d end that particular nonsense.

        I don’t know about Geils. I don’t have any inside info on how that place works. But it may well be dead.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know we’ve had this discussioin before. I like your idea to rename the Hall. While this would open the floodgates, at least there would be no more debate whether a band or solo artist is rock or not.

        Plus, you’re right the ship has sailed, and I’m really glad all the great”non-rock” artists you mention are in the Hall.

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      3. Yes, the lines between country/rock/blues/soul all get so blurry anyway. Looking at the non-rockers you’ve listed, they still have a lot of elements of rock and were very influential to a lot of rock music that came after.

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  2. Kraftwerk should have been in years ago – they’re massively influential and have a strong back-catalogue. After that, I’d take Todd Rundgren, who has produced a lot of classic album productions as well as his own solo career. I’m not very excited about anyone else, but would probably take Thin Lizzy, T. Rex, and The Notorious B.I.G.

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    1. Perhaps you think as a German I should root for Kraftwerk. While they undoubtedly are highly influential, electronic music isn’t my cup of tea. I guess I’m old fashioned and instead prefer music played with real instruments. That being said, I wouldn’t mind if they ended up being inducted.

      Todd Rundgren definitely would be a worthy inductee as well.

      As for the Notorious B.I.G., I’m not familiar with his music. In general, I’m not much into hip hop and rap.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think objectively, there’s arguably the most important and influential electronic band of all time (Kraftwerk) pitted against a bunch of rock and roll leftovers. I think it’s like a scenario where Coil and Flying Lotus were in the rock and roll hall of fame, but The Beatles weren’t in yet.

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      2. Generally I think the whole thing’s a mess. If it was me, I’d start over and limit it to ~50 acts who are:
        a) clearly rock and roll, or at least rock
        b) are influential, high-selling, and critically acclaimed

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