Rating the Rock Hall Inductors

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced the artists who will be inducting this year’s crop of new Hall of Famers at the ceremonies March 12 in New York City. The induction speeches are often inspirational and funny; Springsteen’s spiel for U2 might have been the best ever, and induction regular Bono always does a good, over-the-top, dramatic job.

This year the induction speakers are a mix of promising and befuddling. Below are the artists doing the honors along with whom I think should be handling the tasks. For the first time, this year’s awards program will be aired live (VH1 Classic at 8:30 p.m.). An edited, two-hour “highlights” edition airs on VH1 proper March 17 at 9 p.m. AOL is also streaming the broadcast live; you can get the stream on the day-of right here (there’s a preview up now).

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Kid Creole, Cowboy, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, Raheim) are the first of the Rap/Hip Hop genre to go into the Hall — surely to the chagrin of some, though Hip Hop has produced some of the most “Rock & Roll” albums of the past 20 years. Giving their induction speech is modern Hip Hop legend Jay-Z. Not bad, but Chuck D of Public Enemy would have been better. Chuck’s already elegantly expounded at great lengths about the group’s Rock Hall honor.

R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe) fill this year’s U2 slot (still relevant band that even the kids are familiar with). Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is ushering them into the Hall; again, not a bad choice (Vedder’s loose, passionate speech for The Ramones in 2002 was excellent). But what about Michael Stipe’s best buddy, Patti Smith? We know she’ll be there (see below). Even Bono would be a good choice: He’s probably their closest “peer” who understands all that they’ve been through, as U2 and R.E.M. came up through the same “College Rock” channels.

The Ronettes (Estelle Bennett, Ronnie Spector, Nedra Talley) were probably the best Girl Group outside of the Supremes, thanks to Phil Spector’s production and Ronnie Spector’s amazing vocals. Someone not known for his vocals, Keith Richards, is putting them into the Hall. Keef speaking in front of a crowd of people with an unlimited supply of alcohol close at hand? It don’t get better than that. Seriously, Richards probably has a wise perspective on the group’s place in history, but someone more directly influenced (perhaps Beyonce?) or perhaps even a peer (Diana Ross could probably match Richards’ wackiness factor) would be cool to see.

Patti Smith (though, kinda oddly, not the whole Patti Smith Group) is being inducted by former Rage Against the Machine singer/screamer/rapper Zach De La Rocha. Zach is a soulful fella who will no doubt give a good speech on Smith’s influence as a lyricist. But his bombastic Hip Hop approach is a different animal from Patti’s artsy poetics. I’d love to hear what Nick Cave (another poet/rocker of the highest order) or former Geraldine Fibbers’ frontwoman Carla Bozulich (a bit obscure but very influenced by Patti, right down to those deep-soul moans) have to say about the Punk Poetess. Or Patti’s pal Michael Stipe (see above) — judging by this photo, he really, really likes her!

Van Halen (Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth) has pretty much stolen everyone’s thunder this year. Besides the ongoing soap opera of internal band fragilities, the band recently announced a reunion tour that would bring Roth back into the fold. Then, in typical Eddie fashion, it was announced about a week later that the tour wasn’t happening (at least for now). There’s also the uncertainty surrounding members’ attendance — no one seems sure Eddie will even show up. Velvet Revolver, the corporate supergroup featuring ex-Guns N’ Roses members like Slash and Duff (plus beleagured singer Scott Weiland), have the honor of inducting VH. I despise Velvet Revolver, but their appearance here makes sense: Van Halen perfected overblown Hard Rock/Arena Rock debauchery (and sometimes douchebaggery), something the VR guys know more than a little about. My alternative choice? How about Valerie Bertenelli? Eddie’s former wife surely has some insight into the band that us mere mortals would never know otherwise.

UPDATE: According to Yahoo! Music, Velvet Revolver will now “sit in” for VH and perform their music at the ceremony. This article also suggests Slash and Weiland will be speaking “on Van Halen’s behalf.” Uh, over Roth’s dead, spandex-clad body they will!

— Mike Breen

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2 Comments on “Rating the Rock Hall Inductors”

  1. McKracken Says:

    “Douchebaggery.” What a great word. That perfectly sums up Van Halen.

  2. Mr. Trey Says:

    I think Ryne Sandberg should get to induct Patti Smith because neither should be in their respective HOF’s. Patti Smith was an obscure New York singer .


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