Classic Rock Corner

Laugh or Cry: Reviewing the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees Poster art by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

This past weekend, the 2019 Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductees were announced. Congratulations to The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music, and The Zombies. Condolences to Todd Rundgren (who had the third best fan vote), Rage Against the Machine, Chaka Khan, and a handful more who did not make the cut.

And our deepest sympathies to those who have been snubbed year after deserving year such as: Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Smiths, Jethro Tull, Duran Duran, Kool and the Gang, INXS, and Eurythmics to name a few.

Unsettling? Definitely. Since opening its doors in 1995, the Hall of Fame has received its fare share of criticism. Mostly that the nomination process is managed by a handful of individuals, none of which are actual musicians. Their selections and processes are a mystery and it seems they intend to keep it that way. Michael Nesmith, member of The Monkees, expressed an understandable sentiment at being excluded stating, "I can see the Hall of Fame is a private enterprise. It seems to operate as a business...The inductees appear to be chosen at the owner's pleasure. This seems proper to me."

The often candid and outspoken, Joe Walsh, who was inducted with The Eagles in 1998, held his nose when asked about the Hall of Fame's methods. "The corporate sponsors get to pick...There's a lot of people, I don't know why they're in there and there's a lot of people, I don't know why they're not."

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the criticisms expressed, the induction is an honor. Artists are only eligible 25 years after the release of their first record and it is an acknowledgment of the "influence and significance of the artists' contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock n roll," according to the Hall of Fame's website. Let's honor this year's inductees one by one and remember the ways these artists influenced and shaped our lives with their albums, singles, and shows.

Stevie Nicks

The first woman to be inducted in to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame twice. In 1998 with iconic band, Fleetwood Mac and now in 2019 as a solo artist. Nicks tweets, "For now I will just say, I have been in a band since 1968. To be recognized for my solo work makes me take a deep breath and smile. It's a glorious feeling."

Her first solo album, 1981's Bella Donna, reached multiplatinum status and included chart topping hits such as: "Edge of Seventeen," "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," with Tom Petty, and "Leather and Lace," with Don Henley. More hits ensued throughout the '80s and her wild-hearted, witchy woman style has influenced every corner of pop culture from the club, to the catwalk, to an entire season of American Horror Story.

With a reputation for being easy to collaborate with, vocally supportive of U.S. troops, always supportive of the LGBTQ community, the eight-time, Grammy-nominated Nicks has earned her spot in the Hall of Fame with more than 50 years of music-making magic.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson has been nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame three times and has been eligible for over a decade. Why her induction has taken so long turns the stomachs of fans and industry insiders alike. Questlove of The Roots was quoted as saying that her exclusion was, "highly criminal," and that her 1986 album, Control, was responsible for creating New Jack Swing — a term coined by music producer, Teddy Riley, describing music that combines elements of hip hop and rap with dance music and R&B. The sound is particularly evident in the song, "Nasty."

The album has been certified five-old platinum and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. It changed music in the '80s and its follow up Rhythm Nation 1814, secured Jackson's status as not only a great R&B singer, but also as an impressive rock singer. The single, Black Cat," earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocalist and she has been nominated in categories spanning every genre from Pop, Rock, Dance, Rap, and R&B. Eight albums have followed 1986's Control, and the youngest sister of the revered and scrutinized Jackson family has secured her place among the most influential women of rock and pop.

Def Leppard

Having been eligible for the Hall of Fame for 14 years, many fans feel that Def Lep's induction also has been long overdue. With the most fan votes this year, topping over half a million, it is clear that the band from across the pond deserves their spot.

Addressing the critics, singer Joe Elliot states, "I can understand why people say, well they sold a ton of records, but it's just commercial fluff...But our body of work is not's got songs that have remained hits for 30 years...Sometimes just watching 25,000-46,000 fans at our concert, singing the chorus of 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' so loudly that they actually drown out the band, that to me, is making a cultural impact."

By tons of records, he actually means more than 100 million worldwide, with two albums, Pyromania and Hysteria having reached RIAA diamond certification; that means each sold more than ten million. This ranks them as one of only five rock bands to have two original albums selling over ten million copies each in the United States alongside The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd.

During more than three decades as a band, they have lost a guitar player, Steve Clark to an overdose, and drummer Rick Allen's arm to a car accident. Allen, the one-armed drummer, went on to pound on a custom made kit and see the band through their most commercially successful years. They have influenced heavy metal guitar players from Pantera's Dimebag Darrell to Slayer's Jeff Hanneman and even sang a duet of "Hysteria" with Taylor Swift.

You can still catch the arena rockers live as they tour regularly and always include Houston in their rounds, often closing the show with their hard hitting, super catchy, "Rock of Ages."

Roxy Music

Bryan Ferry formed English rock band, Roxy Music, in 1970 and they released their self titled first album in 1972, making them eligible for Hall of Fame induction for 22 years. Their intriguing album art, glamorous albeit zany fashions, and extraordinary sound that combined '70s glam rock with synthesizers and saxophones, were a prelude to the New Wave that was to come in the next decade. Their unique, funky beats have influenced everyone from Nile Rodgers, to The Talking Heads, and Duran Duran. Listen closely and you can hear elements of all the aforementioned artists' styles on 1975's, "Love is the Drug," from the album Siren.

The collaborative imaginations of founding members Brian Ferry, Andy Mackay, and Brian Eno were influenced by the prestigious UK art schools they each attended in the '60s. It was a time when traditionalism was out and avant garde pop art was in. Roxy Music had invented an entire aesthetic for themselves with thoughtfully constructed album art, stage presence, music videos, promotional posters, and fashion. Their final studio album 1982's, Avalon, reached No. 1 in the UK, but peaked at only No. 53 in the United States. However, its popularity endured and it eventually received RIAA platinum status, having sold over a million copies in this country.

The Cure

Nominated twice and eligible since 2004, the band from West Sussex, fronted by ghoulish singer Robert Smith, have sold more than 27 million records worldwide, released 13 albums, and had more than 30 singles. Credited with having established "the goth" movement, an honor that frontman Smith finds cringeworthy, they have amassed a huge cult following.

heir dark moody image is often in contrast to their diverse musical talents and ability to conjure pop hits. Smith has stated, "We're not categorizable. I suppose we were post punk when we came out, but in total it's impossible...I just play Cure music." Their eighth studio album, Disintegration, would be their greatest commercial success and contained two of their biggest hits, "Lovesong" and "Pictures of You."

Having toured extensively from the late '70s til now, The Cure are set to play 20 festivals this summe. With a new album in the works, The Cure are busier than ever. Robert Smith spoke with Sirius XM and said, "We're going in about six weeks time to finish up what will be our first album in more than a decade. It's very exciting times for us all around."

This is the first nomination for the band from Abingdon and comes just in time as their first album, Pablo Honey celebrates 25 years. Although not as critically well received as their follow up albums, it did contain their biggest commercial hit, "Creep." It was the first introduction that mainstream radio listeners had to singer Thom Yorke's self deprecating inner workings and strange, controlled, howling wail.

Radiohead created an interesting artful sound that was missing from modern radio and developed an admiring fan base and praise from critics along the way. All of their albums have been popular with fans and critics alike, but 2000's Kid A, was named best album of the decade by Rolling Stone.

While Kid A used an almost entirely electronic sound, their sixth studio album, 2003's Hail to the Thief, brought back the guitars and rock. Their response to the War on Terror and the current political climate, the album was nominated for a Grammy and sold 300,000 copies the first week it was released. Always experimental, Radiohead released their seventh album, In Rainbows, as a download in which fans could set the price. They worked on the album for more than two years and it paid off with two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

Band members have sold more than 30 million records worldwide and in 2009 Rolling Stone readers listed them as the second best artist of the 2000s. Never ones to bask in their own glory, it is rumored that they might not attend the 2019 induction ceremony.

"I don't care. Maybe it's a cultural thing that I really don't understand. It's quite a self-regarding profession anyway. And anything that heightens that just makes me feel even more uncomfortable," said guitarist Johnny Greenwood. We understand, but hope they change their minds.

The Zombies
British Invasion group, The Zombies have been eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame for 30 years and have been nominated four times. Although the recognition is long overdue, the band expresses excitement and appreciation, not bitterness.

"It's wonderful news. First of all, to think that 330,000 people voted for us in the fan vote and then on top of it, to have members vote for us as well...Peer group acceptance is such a wonderful thing for any artist. It really is just incredible news," exclaims singer Colin Blunstone.

Formed in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England in 1961, The Zombies were barely more than boys when they started. They each sang in different grammar school choirs honing the skills that would create their signature atmospheric harmonies. Their first hit, "She's Not There," was released in 1964 and went on to sell more than 1  million copies achieving RIAA Gold status. A U.S. tour ensued to promote the 1965 self titled album with television appearances before packs of screaming teenage girls. The Zombies were in the charts.

However, by the time they released their second studio album, Odessey and Oracle in 1968, they had struggled to achieve another hit single as big as, "She's Not There." Morale in the band was low as well as funds. A frustrating time in the studio ensued and several singles were released before sleeper hit, "Time of the Season," emerged. Not initially popular, it later landed at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is not only The Zombies' most famous, but it is a pop culture standard that is often used to depict the climate of the entire decade of the '60s.

The Zombies call and response phrasing, trippy keyboards and organs, and unique songwriting gave them a signature sound that stood out among their peers 50 years ago. Though they only had two studio albums, The Zombies have earned their reputation as innovative artists and it's about time they claimed their place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
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