A Modest Proposal for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

My pal Rich Manning has some serious concerns about who is–and isn’t–being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After looking at this year’s list of honorees (George Harrison, ZZ Top, Prince, Jackson Browne, and Bob Seger), your humble host joins him in weeping for the future.

I hate to bring up the obvious, but shouldn’t there be a “freak factor” limit for inductees? For example, even if Michael Jackson were the undisputed hands-down greatest musician of all time, should he be inducted if he’s convicted of molesting 50 children?

What would happen to the list of eligible artists if some common sense were injected into the process of selecting inductees? Let’s take a look.

In Prince’s case, he would fall victim to the “your name must be pronounceable without using a complex series of clicks and whistles” requirement. Any artist whose name cannot be uttered without mastering the conjugation of verbs in Esperanto should not be in the Hall of Fame until they’ve bought the world a Coke–and a set of Hooked on Phonics tapes.

Both Prince and Jackson would be eliminated from consideration by virtue of the “cannot have tried to change your skin color from black to white” rule.

And can I get an “amen” on some limit to plastic surgery? The artist being inducted to the Hall of Fame should at least bear a slight resemblance to the person who recorded the music. If you’ve intentionally turned yourself into the Elephant Man or obliterated any clues as to your gender, you’re out. See ya, Jacko.

Of course, this sort of genuine-draft-cold-filtering process could get ugly. The Hall of Fame shouldn’t be burdened with such politically explosive decisions. Therefore, prudence dictates that they let me make the call. If I hate the artist in question, they’re out (see ya Jacko, redux). If I like them, they might have a chance (again sayeth the Lord: see ya, Jacko).

“It’s gold, Jerry. Gold!

Seger, Browne, and certainly George Harrison are ok. But ZZ Top? Please. If it was my call, they’d be out on their banjo strumming butts. They belong in the Confederate Moonshine Drinkers Hall of Fame, not the Rock Hall. Anyone who hasn’t shaved since Nixon was in China doesn’t need to be in the Hall of Fame. What they need is to undergo a “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” makeover by the Fab 5.

Perhaps the real problem is that the Hall of Fame is like Movieland Wax Museum, only less relevant. And it doesn’t even have an integrated Starbucks coffee shop like Movieland. Let’s face it, wax gets a lot more interesting when you add coffee to the mix. If only it was that easy to fix the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…

  8 comments for “A Modest Proposal for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

  1. Jon
    November 26, 2003 at 8:45 am

    I’ve got no love for Jacko, but, man, you’re oozing so much hate for him, people might start thinking you spent one too many nights at the Neverland Ranch when you were a kid. 🙂

    With odes to women’s body parts like “Tush” and “Legs” and odes to things about the penis like “Pearl Necklace” and “Woke Up With Wood”, ZZ Top totally deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Or at least the “Most Songs About Body Parts/Bodily Functions Hall of Fame”.

  2. November 26, 2003 at 12:42 pm

    Jacko creeps me out. Ever seen a photo of him when he hasn’t shaved for a few days. Holy cow.

    ZZ Top is fine. I’m just trying to help them see the error of their Norelco-less ways. 🙂

  3. November 26, 2003 at 5:01 pm

    yes and yes and yes.

    the thing that scares me the most is that, what is it, like 25 years of rocking and rolling and then you’re IN the hall of fame? so, even if you’re not relevant at ALL anymore… like zz top, for example. not knockin’ the music, but they haven’t maintained any level of relevancy.

    which brings me to the fear: artists (pah!) like britney and xtina could be still in the news or making a comeback or something in twenty or so years… and what about new edition and new kids on the block? weigh in, please. i’m curious if acts like this will end up in the r’n’r hall of fame as well. scared, but curious.

  4. November 26, 2003 at 6:30 pm

    Hey, that’s a good point Monique. Eventually we could see the likes of Britney Spears right along side the Beatles in the Hall of Fame. Ouch.

    They have to be voted in, so I’m sure not all the lowball acts would gain admission. But there are so many unqualified artists who have achieved major sales success. New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, Spice Girls… it’s only a matter of time until one of them makes the cut.

    At that point, the Hall of Fame would have to pull a “League of Nations” and immolate itself to appease the gods.

  5. Rich
    November 29, 2003 at 9:25 pm

    I don’t think even the Hall would be silly enough to vote in a Britney or a boy band. After all, they haven’t yet. If any manufactured act like those two would have been elected to the Hall, it would have been The Monkees. And nobody talks about them being in the Hall or deserving of the Hall or anything like that. The minute they would be inducted, of course, all bets are off.

  6. November 29, 2003 at 11:17 pm

    The Hall couldn’t vote in boy bands or Britney–they haven’t been in the business long enough to be eligible. Yet.

    The Monkees! Wow, totally forgot about them. I’d say they’re the music equivalent of Mentos.

    “The Freshmaker That Monkeys Around”


  7. GJ
    May 26, 2004 at 6:20 pm

    I know The Who are already in the Hall, but you really need to make a 2 CD best-of when you add together all of Townshend’s best solo material. Look at this list: Empty Glass (Rough Boys, Let My Love Open the Door, I am an Animal, A Little is Enough, And I Moved, Gonna Get ‘Ya, Jules and Jim), Chinese Eyes (Slit Skirts, Face Dances, Stardom in Acton, The Sea Refuses no River, North Country Girl), White City (Brilliant Blues, Crashing by Design, Hiding Out, White City Fighting, Give Blood), Rough Mix (My Baby Gives It Away, Keep Me Turning, Heart to Hang Onto, Misunderstood), Iron Man (A Friend is a Friend, A Fool Says, Dig), Psychoderelict (Now and Then, Must Outlive the Dinosaur, English Boy, Predictable), Who’s First (Pure and Easy, Sheraton Gibson) plus songs from his 3 Scoop albums. Sign the petition to induct him as a solo act at:

  8. Johnny Lang
    August 15, 2004 at 12:34 pm

    I understand your concerns about the watering down of the Rock and Roll hall of Fame… but how can you include Prince with the likes of Boy Bands, Michael Jackson, and Brottany Spears? Prince has been making albums for the past 20 some odd years straight. He dropped out of the main stream for a few years only because he was seaking alternative ways to distribute his music. Prince is not making a comeback… he has always been here. Try researching reviews of the following tours, The Beautiful Experience, Jam of the Year, The Hit and Run tour, One Night Alone Tour… to name a few. The current tour “Musicology” is just a tast of what Prince is capable of and has been doing. His impact on the Music industry is just being realized!

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