Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Music Note" # 5: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame...Really?

As many music fans should know, the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is coming up on April 4th. This year's inductees include Run-DMC, Metallica, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Wanda Jackson, Jeff Beck and Bobby Womack.

Still, there is one thing that I do not understand about the famous hall of fame -- its NAME! If one simply looks at the list of people who have been inducted over the years, one will see that it is not only the genre of Rock music that is in the hall of fame. Then, why is it called Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Starting from the first ceremony in 1986, here is a list of perofmers who are not Rock music artists:

James Brown

Ray Charles

Sam Cooke

Aretha Franklin

Clyde Mcphatter

Jackie Wilson

Marvin Gaye

Smokey Robinson

The Coasters

Louis Jordan

The Drifters

The Supremes

The Temptations

Stevie Wonder

The Four Tops

The Platters

The Impressions

Wilson Pickett

Sam and Dave

The Isley Brothers

Etta James

Ruth Brown

Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers

Sly and the Family Stone

Bob Marley

Al Green

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Little Willie John

The Shirelles


The Bee Gees

The Jackson Five

Lloyd Price

Curtis Mayfield

Billie Hiliday

Nat "King" Cole

Earth, Wind and Fire

Isaac Hayes

The Dells

Percy Sledge

The O'Jays

Miles Davis

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five


and this year...

Little Anthony and the Imperials


Bobby Womack

All of the artists mentioned above make up almost half the list! I can understand including Blues, Rockabilly and transitory (between rock and another genre) artists in the hall because they had a major influence in Rock music, but RnB, Doo-wop, Soul, Pop and Hip-hop artists do not exactly fit into that group. Although many of these genres and artists incorporate rock elements into their own and vice-versa, they are still not RocknRoll specifically. It would have been more appropriate to have called it, the Music Hall of Fame and have sub-categories for each genre under it or have separate halls of fame (which I know would be difficult since there are so many fusion styles). This will allow for a broader range and mix of music styles to be included.

Whose smart idea was it to call it the RocknRoll Hall of Fame if they knew the hall would induct other musical genres into it. I feel it some sort of dominant view that the music industry is trying to portray by using the term RocknRoll. Since RocknRoll is considered the most mainstream and commercial (the market is mostly white artists and white listeners), it is also considered the most influential. However, if it was not for other styles of music like the Blues, Jazz, Hillbilly (Country music) and Tin Pan Alley music, you would not have RocknRoll (which at least the hall recognizes as "early influences"). So, I, along with thousands of other people, are requesting a name change!

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