Yesterday the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held their annual induction ceremonies. This year ABBA, Genesis, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, and The Stooges were the honorees and, once again, disagreements have arisen over who is deserving of membership. As always, the only real eligibility requirements are that you can not be inducted until twenty-five years after you made your first record and (here is where the controversy begins) you must make a significant contribution to the art form.
There are artists in the hall who most definitely are not rock musicians but their influence on the music has been significant. That explains why Cliff was inducted. The Stooges were only marginally popular with the masses but were critical favorites. The opposite is true of ABBA. They were hated by the music snobs but were hugely popular worldwide. Genesis were lucky enough to receive both widespread popularity and artistic acceptance. My favorite among this year's rookies are The Hollies who, like Genesis, were both popular and critically acclaimed.
Many of us, me included, often curse Jann Wenner and his minions because of the musicians the museum chooses to honor. Yet I'd like to suggest that the people running the often maligned institution mostly get it right, especially when you consider the meaning of the term rock 'n roll. The All Music Guide believes that rock music had a clear definition only during its formative years. I agree. There have been so many colors broadening the genre's palette since "Rock Around The Clock" that its boundaries have become clouded and controversial. Doo wop, the teen idol era, the British Invasion, Southern Rock, Heavy Metal, most singer-songwriters, and more are all considered rock 'n roll. I believe its all-encompassing nature is a big reason why so many of us have problems with who is chosen for entry year after year. I don't believe the arguments will subside anytime soon.