I’m writing this post as a distraction from all of the heavy sh*^ going on in the world right now. If you agree/disagree or want to make an argument for another band or artist that should be in the Hall of Fame, then make your case. Please talk about politics somewhere else.
I was never a really big fan of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The idea seemed to run so counter to the idea of rebellion, which used to be at the core of rock and roll. But, the powers that be certainly didn’t contact me when they put the hall together.
However, the hall is missing some very key people and bands. So, here is my list of those that should be in the hall but aren’t.
- Before introducing my first three picks, I need to provide some history. I was born in 1967; the 1970s were my musical formative years. I still remember my first stereo and very first album — yes album — being Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Pendulum. This was a very different era. While bands put out studio albums pretty regularly, it was really live shows where they thrived. And the acts that were really memorable would improvise some of their set and give everything they had for the audience. Sometimes you’d see a complete disaster because the vibe just wasn’t right. But other times, you’d see magic.
And that sets up my first three picks.
If you were a European blues-rock guitarist coming of age in Europe during the early 1970s, he was one of your top influences. If you were a US guitarist coming of age during the same time, you probably knew about him. And if you were touring the states with him as your opener, you were terrified, because he’d blow you off the stage. Rory was a legendary live performer. He was pure energy and reckless abandon. And, dear God, could he play. His beat to death Strat was usually run through a Fender or Vox amp. The fact the guitar didn’t eventually fall apart is a testament to Leo Fender’s brilliance. I think he used a boost circuit as well, but that’s it.
Check out any of his live albums to get a small flavor of what he could do.
J. Geils was the other band out of Boston. While Aerosmith wanted to emulate the Yardbirds, the J. Geils Band was pure blues and rock and roll, which explains why they were referred to as the American Rolling Stones. Peter Wolf was one of the world’s truly great front men while the rhythm section was tight as a gnat’s butt. They had a few studio hits. But they were awesome live. From the opening number of the last beat, they rocked hard. Check out both of their live albums to get an idea for what they were capable of — and what you missed. When J. played live, it was a party, plain and simple.
OK — this one might seem a little out there, so let me explain. In the late 1960s, rock players started to incorporate classical music concepts into their playing and writing. Yes and ELP worked with extended forms. Deep Purple was a harder blues-based version that had Jon Lord rocking his Hammond Organ with Bach-like runs and Ritchie Blackmore incorporating some classical violin ideas. This movement would hit full-force in the early 1980s with Randy Rhoads of Ozzy and Yngvie Malsteen.
Standing between these periods is UFO, or more specifically, UFO with Michael Schenker on guitar. He was the brother of Rudolf Schenker and helped for the Scorpions. Micheal went on to join UFO and played on several classic albums. However, it was Strangers in the Night, a live concert from Chicago, that is a true gem. It also bridges the early classical influences from the early 1970s with the neo-classical shredders in the 1980s. Micheal Schenker is one of the most melodic guitarists in rock, building lines as a composer would. If you don’t believe me, read any interview with players that emerged after him (for example: Kirk Hammett of Metallica); they all cite his influence.
I need to get a bit technical with this one. First of all, sometime in the mid-1980s, a guitarist somewhere lowered the low E on his guitar to “D,” creating the first drop-D tuning. This allowed rock guys to simply fret the lower three strings to create riffs. The best example of this is Kim Thayal from Soundgarden, but a host of other grunge players used this technique. Second, the 1980s saw the proliferation of multi-gain stage amplifiers. Short version: this method used several different pre-amps to create different types of distortions. The end result was a very different kind of distortion — far more sonically defined and clear across all frequencies.
And that’s where King’s X comes in. This trio from Texas combined amazingly cool grunge-riffs — that were far more sophisticated than the standard grunge fair -- with an incredibly tight rhythm section and three-part vocal harmonies to create some of the coolest metal you’ll ever hear. And they’ve been doing it for about 30 years now. Consistently. Check out Gretchen Goes to Nebraska. It supposedly tells an entire story that I’ve never figured out. But the album is awesome.
What has Los Lobos been doing? Just issuing one great American rock and roll record after another for their entire career. This little old band from LA combines roots rock, blues, R&B, with traditional Mexican tunes in some of the most honest songs of all time. David Hidalgo is a criminally under-rated player and singer; Cesar Rojas carries the spirit of Howlin’ Wolf; the rest of the band provides strong support.
And, after the huge hit of La Bamba, the band did a 180 and issued an album of traditional Mexican tunes. If there is ever an example of someone flipping the finger to the taste of the public in true rebel fashion, that’s it. For that alone, they should be in the Hall.
OK — I’ve distracted myself long enough.