I remember sitting down in a Japanese restaurant in the Philippines after being away for a decade and a half. Somebody offered me a “California Roll” and I was in the shock of my life when I discovered that a California Roll in Manila had a certain ingredient I abhor that was not present in the other California rolls I have eaten that were in the same time zone as California including California. If you don’t believe me this is an actual menu from a Japanese restaurant in California and they have the actual composition of a California Roll. Typical Filipino arrogance. They take Japanese cuisine named after a state in the US and they feel their version is the superior version. Why even call it Japanese food then? Wouldn’t Flapanese food be more appropriate if you are going to bastardize the California Roll?
On the same note, let’s discuss the man who should have been president in 2016 if the noisy yellows had their way. Mr. Noynoy Aquino 2.0 himself : Mar Roxas. He was in the public eye a long time. He served under Erap and GMA and he felt it was time to succeed them before giving way to necropolitics in 2009 . It wasn’t until the 2016 election campaign that many of us realized that Mar had his own “California Roll”. I was not the only one who believed Mar Roxas graduated with an MBA. That is because Mar and his spin doctors took advantage of the association of the name Wharton with the graduate business school and left out the inconvenient fact that he only attended their undergraduate program. Cheer up Mar. Somebody else ran for president in 2016 also playing the Wharton misconception card. Unlike you though, he won.
Let me make the transition from a famous university in Philadelphia , Penn used by politicians to get elected in 2016 to a building in Cleveland, Ohio that has a certain genre of music in its name yet like the aforementioned politicians and Flapanese food, there are certain intentional misconceptions . For a more scientific discussion on how different cultures misunderstand words I highly recommend reading a bit about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.
Silly me. When I hear California Roll , I expect sushi with avocado not mango. When I hear Wharton graduate I expect someone to have an MBA from the University of Penn. When I hear the Rock and Roll of Fame, I expect the place to be filled with people who provided rock and roll music. Not hip-hop , not lame pop, nothing involving a turntable or overt sampling from people more talented. Cleveland was chosen to be the host city of the RNR Hall of Fame for a host of reasons including alleged ballot stuffing by a Cleveland businessman . Sounds like behavior that would foreshadow pinoy online voting .
There is a debate about what is the first rock and roll song. Since there is no real consensus , I grew up believing that the first such song was Bill Haley and the Comets Rock Around The Clock. Who those of us of a certain vintage heard as the opening theme of the early seasons of Happy Days. Yes the one with the mysterious Cunningham brother.
When the Hall opened in 1986 the initial tenants were : Elvis Presley, James Brown, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Great start for the Hall. That is what Rock and Roll is all about. Those were the pioneers. Fun fact , the mother of the Everly Brothers is still alive as I write this.
“You can’t beat two guitars, bass, and drums,”
How do we define rock and roll? The Lou Reed quote is a great starting point but to treat it sacrosanct means to ignore the contributions of Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Elton John, Danny Federici, Billy Joel , Donald Fagen among others. Rock and Roll isn’t just a configuration of instruments but it is the soul of the musicians behind those instruments coming out in the collective sound. Pop music as the name suggests is popular but often the musicians on the records are often like Noynoy Aquino’s career as a politician pre 2009. Even the biggest fans did not know or could care less they were there. They are simply wallpaper.
Let’s take an example of the Lou Reed template. Doug Fieger , Bruce Gary, Burton Avarre and Prescott Niles are collectively known as The Knack (not in the R&RHOF) . Their biggest hit is still heard currently, 41 years after it was the song of year. I knew in 1979 that the video of My Sharona was not a live performance but synched to the actual studio recording but it is a good example of “soul”.
Check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords.
But it’s strictly rhythm; he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing.
We start with a simple 6 second drum intro by Bruce. The bass of Prescott comes in at (0:07) and Doug and Burton join in at (0:12) . We hear the vocals at (0:21) . At (1:22) you get a chance to hear the bass of Prescott again but this time with the full band present. The band goes on for a while before Doug adds another verse at (1:57) . The weird part is we have not gotten to the real solo yet. That comes at (2;40). This video early in my life made me realize the difference between rhythm guitar and lead guitar. In this video Doug is playing a Fender Stratocaster. Watch rock and roll long enough and you will instantly spot it. At (2:46 ) Burton begins his solo in what looks like a Gibson. At (3:27) , it is the beginning of the end or what is commonly known as the “outro”.
I dissected that video and song in detail because it was one way to differentiate rock and roll from mere pop. I am not saying pop can’t be that detailed but I believe someone who is confined to pop will not be aware of the details or even curious about them. A pop fan will only care what Whitney does or what Celine does. Anybody who cared to listen to enough Billy Idol was very aware of the contributions of Steve Stevens. There is a certain teamwork that is not only present in rock and roll but also appreciated by rock and roll fans. Once the band ceases to being background for a singer and is appreciated on its own merits, that’s when music appreciation really begins.
I spent some time explaining what rock and roll is because I find it so moronic what the Rock And Roll Hall Fame sometimes presents as “rock and roll”. Their own mission statement reads:
THE ROCK HALL’S MISSION TO ENGAGE, TEACH AND INSPIRE THROUGH THE POWER OF ROCK & ROLL IS IMPORTANT. LEARN ABOUT OUR HISTORY, BUILDING, ECONOMIC IMPACT AND MORE.
Their name and their institution both mention rock and roll. The problem is that it sets up the expectation that if you are good at/ and or contributed to rock and roll then you should be here. People like Dr. J, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson helped bring the entire NBA out of the drug filled 1970s and into an era of prosperity. Those three are definitely hall of famers as basketball players. Their play on the court helped lift the entire league.
The NFL Hall of Fame is actually in the same state as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . A place that is full of people who epitomized what the NFL is all about. If an alien came down and wanted to know what is so special about the NFL , then you can show him/ her: Dick Butkus , Ray Nitschke , Dan Hampton, Lawrence Taylor , Jack Lambert , Deacon Jones and you will clearly understand the NFL is different from any other sport.
Now what if the NFL Hall of Fame every once in a while allowed in an athlete like Johnny Weir. Johnny Weir was very good at his sport. He never played in the NFL nor does he represent what the NFL is about . But he is American and his fans who are not NFL fans will come to the NFL Hall of Fame and it will be worth it. Would you consider the NFL Hall of a fame a sham and a disgrace?? That is exactly what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has devolved to. A Hall of Shame, A Hall of Sham, A Hall of Fake.
I am old enough to remember when Sugarhill Gang, Run DMC, Beastie Boys and M.C. Hammer first hit mainstream radio. While I agree that they started some sort of genre , anything musically memorable about those hits were previously played by Chic, Aerosmith , Led Zeppelin and Rick James. People like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards were obsessed with the bluesmen of the American South but that obsession inspired them to play well. So what exactly do rappers bring to the table?? Check out the Run DMC song. Aerosmith is there singing and playing while they argue. What is so musical about that? Here is the punch in the gut though: Run DMC has been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2009. Deep Purple ( first record in 1968) did not get in till 2016. Almost anyone has heard the riff of Smoke on the Water and that came out in 1972.
Here is a short of list of artists from my music collection that I believe personify rock and roll and yet were not inducted to the RNR Hall of Fame. I will also include a song or two so you can immediately judge for yourself what I believe rock and roll to be about.
- George Thorogood- One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer
- Hoodoo Gurus – Out That Door
- Marillion – Waterhole
- Jeff Healey – See The Light
- The Alan Parsons Project – Let Me Go Home
- Emerson Lake and Palmer – Peter Gunn
- The Romantics- What I Like About You
- Joe Jackson- I’m The Man
- The Hooters- All You Zombies
- The Georgia Satellites – Keep Your Hands To Yourself
- Supertramp – Bloody Well Right
- Harlequin- I Did It For Love.
- David Lee Roth – Knucklebones
- Tragically Hip – Locked In The Trunk Of A Car
- Styx- Suite Madame Blue
- Extreme – Get The Funk Out
- J. Geils Band – Looking For A Love
Now that I told you what rock and roll is , let me tell you what rock and roll isn’t. Artists like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Run DMC, Public Enemy, N.W.A. Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Depeche Mode, Notorious B.I.G. are all in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Those artists are the Johnny Weirs in the NFL Hall of Fame. One way to tell is the audience these people have in their concerts were very different from the people who go and watch AC/DC , ZZ Top, Kiss and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. You can make the argument that hip-hop is even rarely about the live concert experience since their music is rarely about the actual band members since there is no real “band” on stage.
A quick look at the Top 100 touring acts of 2017 show that the number of acts who first became popular over thirty years ago doing concerts easily outnumbers the number of hip hop acts that went on the road. Among the 100 , the few hip hop I see are Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Jay- Z. Among the grandparents who are doing shows I will highlight the year of their first album #1 U2 – 1980 . #2 Guns N Roses – 1987 #5 Metallica – 1982. #7 Paul McCartney -1963. #9 The Rolling Stones – 1964. #15 Billy Joel – 1971. #21. Sting 1978 #23. Elton John – 1969 . Look at the whole list yourself and draw conclusions what genres of music are well received as concerts. There seems to be a direct correlation with concert success and the presence of a band people can relate to. I took a quick look at the video provided for Drake. I did not see any instruments but all this dancing. Based on the lack of musicality at that show I think the Hall of Fame will find a way to get him inducted by 2022.
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Eric Burdon and the Animals ( RNR Hall of Fame class of 1994)
Merriam -Webster defines a misnomer as a wrong name or inappropriate designation.
I don’t want this to come across as rant that puts down the taste of music of people who disagree me. I only have two goals so please don’ let me be misunderstood: 1) define a genre of music that I love 2) correct misnomers as I have done in this website in the past.
I often bring up my extremely yellow business professor because of his insight on life and business. He once said something to the effect of that you can’t keep your strategy secret because it will come out in what you do. The RNRHOF has a strategy that is not simply about great rock and roll. Some of the inductees do not even imagined themselves as rock and rollers and yet they are labeled as “the elite”. The more we break down who is in the Hall and more importantly who isn’t , we might determine what their real intentions are.
One of my motivations for writing this list is all the whining I keep reading online “Why is insert favorite musician here not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame???!!!???”. This is 2020 and there are some people who still believe in Truth in Advertising. They see the name Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they believe it is really about rock and roll. They feel so slighted and offended that their favorite is not in the Hall. Just because they love a certain band they feel entitled to the Hall of Fame. They don’t bother to dissect who else is in there besides some essential rock and rollers. They still believe enshrinement in the Hall to be an honor. I really don’t care if you don’t believe me how useless this institution is. Music industry insider Bob Lefsetz believes the same thing. He claims the Hall’s voters ” have lost all credibility, putting money over art, debasing the rock ethos and history to the point of irrelevance.”
Lefsetz brings up Pat Benatar as the epitome of what is wrong with the RNRHOF. She is not in it and she had so many hits that epitomize rock and roll. She even married ace guitarist Neil Geraldo. Go ahead and read Lefsetz’s other beefs with the Hall since I have a few of my own. Michael Jackson was inducted to the Hall in 2001 and the presenters were NSYNC. There is no way the presenters could be considered rock and roll. Wacko Jacko did give me reason to contemplate his presence as a solo artist. Since The Jackson 5 were part of that 60s-early 70s Motown sound I can’t argue too much the relevance of anybody from that time and place in the history of rock and roll. Elvis Presely was in the charter class of the Hall ( 1986) for very good reason. The next generation of rock and rollers like Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin all consider him an influence. Elvis is known as ” The King of Rock and Roll”.
I guess not too many people make the connection that for a brief moment in time Elvis was Michael Jackson’s father in law. MJ’s nickname is “King of Pop”. There you have it, the perception of being distanced from rock and roll. People in the Hall of Fame should embrace and exude rock and roll, not distance themselves from it. Kind of reminds me of a certain American Citizen named Grace Llamanzares who switched horses midstream and wanted to be known by the surname of her “King” father for better name recall in her bid to be president. There you have it. Elvis, Michael Jackson and FPJ. The Three Kings. Only one of them is all about rock and roll though.
I already gave my thoughts why hip hop artists are not rock and roll in any way, shape or form. Let me tell you of another group that does not fit the definition of rock and roll even if you see musicians on stage. I have seen Donald Trump favorite Bette Midler in concert as well as Lionel Richie. I do not consider them to be rock and roll and one giveaway on stage is the presence of dedicated dancers. Rock and roll is all about producing music. David Lee Roth once said ” give them a lot of band, light and sound”. Having been to a ton of shows that is usually enough if the music and the performers are good enough. People like Madonna and the aforementioned Drake who fill the stage with dancers do so for a very good reason. They are catering to fans of show business and not fans of musicians. That gap helps differentiate rock and roll from pop and hip hop.
I did not say I was not a fan of dancing on stage . I just find that the presence of people on stage whose sole function is to dance is a signal from the producers that the music produced on stage is not enough. Dancing on stage in a mostly unchoreographed fashion while maintaining eye contact with your fellow musicians all in the effort of producing music is the essence of a rock and roll show. Witness rock and roll pioneers The Shadows still playing and enjoying themselves into the 21st century . I always found simple joy in watching guitar wizard Pete Townsend’s prancing while he played . I doubt there was any choreography but I can tell you speaking from experience that movements on stage seem to be your body’s reaction to the sounds generated.
Again, part of my motivation writing this is to calm down the crybabies who are so butthurt that their favorites are not in the Hall when the more you look at it , the more you see that the Hall is not searching for excellence in rock and roll. One way of proving this is the blatant redundancies . People who are in more than once. Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and Phil Collins were all parts of the biggest bands in rock and roll history. All three are in the Hall TWICE. Once with their original bands and the second time as a solo artist. Only Phil Collins has multiple albums worth listening to. Nicks’ Bella Donna is one of those classic must have albums but is that the measuring stick for the Hall? One great album ? I can only name one other song of hers that was not on that album and it was nothing great. At least Stevie had an album worth owning. Anybody out there own a Ringo Starr solo album? I know a considerable amount of music but I only name 3 solo Ringo songs. That is Hall worthy???
Two artists that have nothing to do with rock & roll but are in the R&RHOF are Tupac Shakur (2018) and Whitney Houston (2020) . Since they are useless as rock and rollers, I want to compare them to another useless entity. The Liberal Party of the Philippines. Like Noynoy Aquino and Leni Robredo , the duo of Tupac and Whitney are in a place they don’t belong not only because they are not qualified but also because their brand recognition was enhanced by the Grim Reaper. Necropolitics rears its ugly head.
Weird question but if Elvis , The Rolling Stones , The Beatles, Buddy Holly and Led Zeppelin do not belong in the Hip Hop Hall of Fame then why are RUN DMC , Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G. , N.W.A. and Tupac in the RNRHOF?? The former list are bands who helped define what rock and roll is. The latter list are people who have no regard for rock and roll whatsoever but their fanbase will be “new money” for the RNRHOF. What I mean by that is their hip hop fans could care less who Sam Cooke, Gene Vincent, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Carl Perkins are so they would never be caught dead in the Hall if they only had real rock and roll music in there. New money means more money.
In 2018, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden criticized the Hall of Fame by calling it “an utter and complete load of bollocks … run by a bunch of sanctimonious bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock ‘n’ roll if it hit them in the face.” Dickinson has also expressed an overall distaste for the Hall of Fame entity, arguing that “if you put [music] in a museum, then it’s dead.” Iron Maiden had been eligible for induction since 2004. I wonder if the Hall holds it against Bruce that he wrote fiction.
My next point can be considered anecdotal evidence. Somebody in a FB group that I belong actually went to the RNRHOF and he inquired about the absence of Jethro Tull. The staff member on duty admitted that priority was given to American acts. Based on the testimony of a Jethro Tull fan, it is more important to be American than to actually contribute to rock and roll to get into the RA&RHOF.
You and I can have different tastes in music and that is life. Two days before the COVID lockdown, I had some Jabba The Hut lookalike at work livid at me for not liking Justin Bieber. Maybe that was a sign that COVID was a bad thing and coming to change all our lives. . The R&RHOF is not a place ” where rock & roll dreams come through”. All I care about is if you say something is a California Roll then it better be the same as what is actually in California. All I care about is if you are a public official for over 20 years you say you were educated in Wharton then you better have an MBA from Wharton , University of Pennsylvania. All I care about is if you put on makeup, high heels and women’s clothing and you approach a drunk US marine that your real name is not Jeffrey Laude. All I care about is if you have a building called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame then the occupants be people who produced rock and roll.
In conclusion. I told you what a misnomer is and how it applies to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I explained what rock and roll is and what it isn’t. I enumerated the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of their selection process. There is only thing left to be said about the people behind the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and the crap they have been exhibiting in their halls that has nothing to do with rock & roll. There was an album by Frank Zappa (HOF 1995) and the Mothers of Invention titled We Are Only It For The Money
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