Power Ballot: A closer look at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s Class of 2014


[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or all the griping artists, industry types, and critics who haven’t passed through the Rolling Stone magazine masthead have done over the years, it’s pretty hard to argue with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which was announced late last night.

Nirvana, Kiss, Hall & Oates, Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel, and Linda Ronstadt all got the nod for induction, which will take place April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tickets for the general public go on sale next month, and the event will be broadcast in abbreviated form on HBO in May.

Taking a closer look at who made it in, Nirvana was a no-brainer for a first-year nominated/automatic induction, as the mainstream press and 600 individuals who vote via secret ballot have gushed over them ever since the second or third single from Nevermind was released. The Seattle trio dropped “Love Buzz” in 1988, putting them in the pole position for eligibility, which comes 25 years following an initial release by an artist.


Obviously, with the death of frontman Kurt Cobain, there won’t be a reunion performance. But Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters lead man Dave Grohl, his Foo-mate and late Nirvana entry Pat Smear, along with bassist Krist Novoselic, have been more than chummy and clearly amenable to getting onstage together in recent years. The wildcard of course is Courtney Love, who will likely do her best to make the evening focused on how she is somehow getting screwed over throughout the proceedings.

“For once… I’m speechless,” began Grohl in a statement which then continued on, proving that the proverbial cat did not have too a firm grip on his tongue. Willing to guest with pretty much anyone under the sun since the dissolution of Nirvana, Grohl would probably show up in Paducah, Kentucky if a diner was naming an omelet after him, so he’ll definitely be at the RRHOF ceremony.

There hasn’t been an act whose fans have bitched more about their lack of inclusion in the Rock Hall than Kiss, who’ve been eligible since 2000 but weren’t even nominated until a decade later. At one point the Kiss Army marched in Cleveland, the physical home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to protest the lack of respect their beloved grease-painted heroes were getting. Even though Kiss is now in, it must leave a somewhat bitter taste that Nirvana, who covered “Do You Love Me?” for a compilation in 1989, is getting inducted at the same time.


Word on the street is that only founding members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley are listed as inductees. That’s a bit of a slap in the face to replacement drummers Eric Carr and Eric Singer, along with guitarist Bruce Kulick and *maybe* Vinnie Vincent, but what are you gonna do — have the entire Polyphonic Spree up there making acceptance speeches? Simmons and Stanley have been steadfast that they won’t ever play again with Ace and Peter, so it will be interesting to see what happens between now and April 10. It’s all going down in their hometown, and wouldn’t be surprising if tensions softened over nostalgia. And for those wondering if makeup will be on or off? Come on — like Simmons is going to pass up the chance at being the center of attention in any way he can.

Daryl Hall and John Oates were initially to soul music what Eminem has been to hip-hop; on the surface it’s like, “Are these guys serious?” But the talent is there, crossing any real or imagined boundary of race. “Private Eyes,” Sara Smile” and “She’s Gone” aren’t even cheesy anymore — those tracks have come full circle and are considered classics. And much like Kiss and their makeup, there’s a good degree of hand-wringing among fans of the duo as to whether Oates is going to bring his long retired mustache to NYC next spring.

Let’s hope so.

You know you’ve been waiting for a while to get nominated for the Rock Hall when you technically don’t even exist anymore. Such is the case with Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam in 1978; concurrently taking a bow from music. Eligible for more than 20 years, Stevens — errr, Islam, has been covered by a wide-range of artists from Elliott Smith to Chris Cornell to Ugly Kid Joe to Mr. Big and resumed his musical career in the 90s.


Peter Gabriel, who has long been a Robert Plant-like stick in the mud when it comes to a proper Genesis reunion (i.e. keeping Phil Collins away from the fucking microphone), didn’t make the 2010 ceremony when his prog-rock bandmates were inducted because he was busy “rehearsing.” This time around, according to a new interview with Rolling Stone, he’s going to show up. And while sentimentalists might be hoping for “In Your Eyes” or “Solsbury Hill,” Vanyaland is pulling for Pete to pull out some “Shock the Monkey,” or at least “Games Without Frontiers” because, let’s face it, we all want to see Willi happy again.

It’s never a good look when the Rock Hall just misses inducting someone before they die (see: Donna Summer or Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five), and one gets the feeling this train of thought applies to Linda Ronstadt’s first nomination — having been eligible for 19 years — she seems to have been fast-tracked since telling AARP magazine late this summer that her Parkinson’s disease is so debilitating that she, “can’t sing a note.” The 67 year-old has had an amusing career trajectory that went from folksy singer to sexpot to rocker chick to country artist to hypocritical middle-aged demurest to polarizing political activist, all of which ended with a retirement announcement in 2011. But hey, she won a shitload of Grammys, collaborated with a bunch of more talented artists and has been around long enough to join the club.

And what of some of the others nominated this year but who didn’t get the green light? Chic not getting in despite Nile Rodgers’ high-profile work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is a bit of a surprise; instead they creep into Susan Lucci territory with eight noms and still no love. N.W.A and LL Cool J getting passed over might stem from the fact that the nominating committee is sick of hearing that rap and hip-hop have no place in the Hall and require a break. Yes has been eligible for 20 years and just got their first nomination, but no one in Brooklyn feels like sitting through a 30 minute live version of “Starship Trooper.”

Finally, for fans of Deep Purple, who have gone consecutive years with a goose egg, relax; when there are eight lineups and something like 214 ex-bandmembers to sift through, it just takes a bit of time.