The Great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Swindle!


I've got a new col up at The Daily Beast, about the latest inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here's the start:

If you've got anything going on in your life—Christmas shopping, binge-watchingGeraldo at Large, a slight burning sensation during urination—you probably missed this week's announcement about the latest crop of inductees into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No one blames you, America. The pyramid-shaped museum has been inducting—entombing might be a better word—honorees since 1986, and its annual press release stirs about as much excitement these days as a deep track from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery.

This year's honorees feature the usual oldies-show cavalcade of the clinically dead (Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein) and the career dead (Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Linda Ronstadt, whose Parkinson's disease has forced her retirement); guys who used to wear flower pots on their heads (Peter Gabriel) and guys who used to dress up in makeup and platform boots (Kiss); a hippie-peacenik-turned-radical-Islamist (Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam and publicly supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie); and Hall & Oates.

I've got two main objections about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one more ideological and one more philosophical. And lest anyone think these the natterings of a rock-hating jazzbo or classical music snob, let me state for the long-playing record that I am second only to Joan Jett in my unconditional love of rock and roll. In fact, I suspect that I contracted a yet-to-be identified strain of hepatitis from obsessively reading the 1977 Kiss Marvel comic that was actually printed in the band's own blood.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. The Mass state legislature is currently debating what the state's official rock song should be. I'm so glad I'm paying their salaries for this.

    1. Nothing. Left. To cut.

    2. Would you rather they vote on something "productive"?

      1. Like repealing the state's liquor or gun laws? Yes.

    3. Wait, there is a debate about this?

      I mean it is far from the greatest song ever but how can Massachusetts official rock song NOT be jGiles Dirty Water?

      Shipping up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphys would get an honorable mention.

      1. J. Giles Band did a cover of Dirty Water?

  2. Damn, Nick!! You should be getting paid for this. That's some fine writing.

    1. Why? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame makes a lot more sense than the Baseball Hall of Fame. And Cleveland needs SOMETHING.

  3. From the article:

    When Jean-Paul Sartre was offered the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 (the year the Beatles invaded America), he refused it, saying that he rejected official honors and that he didn't want to be "institutionalized," lest his writings lose some of their power.

    Reminds me of Richard Feynman:

    1. Feynman is my hero.

    2. Did you happen to see that movie about Feynman's involvement in Challenger investigation? I thought it was incredibly dull, and it could have been so good.

      1. I think Bryon Brown (Cocktail, F/X) would have made a good Feynman.

        1. How good is he at physics? Can he renormalize?

  4. Judging from the comments at DB (coincidence?) I'd say you struck a nerve.

    Oh yeah, I like Brain Salad Surgery. So there.

    1. why would anyone care what this fascist thinks?

      That was my favorite.

    2. Pretty sure Nick could strike a nerve with those retards by reproducing the Gettysburg Address in its entirety. They aren't mad about what Nick says so much as they are about his being allowed to live on the same planet.

      mutt999 12 minutes ago

      as a libertarian, you're the usual stunted adolescent who takes that morally repulsive nonsense seriously.

      1. Retards like that are nothing BUT nerves. All they do is reflexively react with whatever type of outrage they're programmed with.

      2. Caranus14

        @copperkris @oubiseth Libertarian is the opposite of fascist? says who?

        Some of my brain cells just committed seppuku.

        1. C-14 doesn't think in terms of essentials. His mind committed ritual suicide long ago.

    3. Oh yeah, I like Brain Salad Surgery. So there.

      Me too.

      And we need more prog in the HoF, for it to be legit. Although I agree with Nick on its lack of necessity to exist at all.

      1. Oh yeah, I like Brain Salad Surgery. So there.

        Yeah, it's a great album. As Jesse Walker never tires of reminding us, America in 1970s remains the zenith of human civilization, unlikely ever to be surpassed.

        1. As a 1979 high school graduate, I have to agree. It was a time when getting caught with weed meant a confiscation of the goods and a wag of the finger from the local deputy.

          On the other hand, disco.

            1. Holy shit, how many of us are there, here?

              1. 1978 here. Is that close enough?

                1. Spiltter!

                  Actually, it's good. A girl I had a H-U-G-E crush on in high school, who had an equally huge rack, was a 78'er.

  5. This year's honorees feature the usual oldies-show cavalcade of the clinically dead (Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein) and the career dead (Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Linda Ronstadt, whose Parkinson's disease has forced her retirement); guys who used to wear flower pots on their heads (Peter Gabriel) and guys who used to dress up in makeup and platform boots (Kiss); a hippie-peacenik-turned-radical-Islamist (Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam and publicly supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie); and Hall & Oates.

    Sheesh, Nick, what have you got against Hall and Oates?

    1. I'm thinking he doesn't have anything against Hall & Oates, since they were the only ones without a comment.

      1. They got the later "homeless" comment.

        1. Ahh, I should've read through. Gillespie, you sandbaggin' son of a b*tch.

        2. I was going to mention that, too.

          Which is especially odd since H&O songs are a stable of light classic rock/oldies pop stations; they should both be rolling in royalties.

          Plus neither of them ever stopped working and recording, even if they're not a duo anymore.

          (A quick search of worthless "celebrity net worth" websites I won't bother to link to suggests they're notionally each worth about $30M or so.

          I would not assume those are accurate numbers, but they're not implausible, and much more likely than "homeless".)

    2. All he had to say was "Hall and Oates in the Hall of Fame? I can't go for that. No can do."

  6. KISS sucks my ass.

    I grew up with that as a mantra and it's more relevant now than ever.

    1. They are absolutely horrible. They were just insane clown posse for the 1970s. They literally never did a decent song. I say this as someone who has always appreciated 70s hard rock. Kiss was the worst.

      I would rather listen to the Bay City Rollers or the most idiotic punk.

      1. One of the greatest panels from Bloom County.

        1. Heh, "Bananamanager".

        2. I still have a copy of Billy and the Boingers' "U Stink But I

          1. Deathtongue rules!

      2. The Rush documentary talked about them touring with KISS.

        I think it was Lifeson who said, "Whatever you think about their music, KISS always put on a great show." or something like that. Basically, they learned a lot about performing from opening for KISS.

        1. But Rush is the total opposite of Kiss. I have seen them live. They have almost no showmanship. Rush is totally about the fact that all three of them can really play. If they learned about showmanship from Kiss, what did they do before, play off stage?

        2. I'll take Cooper's vaudeville over a KISS performance.

        3. I knew there had to be a Rush reference somewhere in this thread, surprised it took this long.

        4. The sad thing is the same cannot be said for Rush.

          For a long time they were my favorite band and of the 6 times I've seen them in concert 2 of them you could tell they were just mailing it in

      3. They literally never did a decent song. I say this as someone who has always appreciated 70s hard rock. Kiss was the worst.

        Which really isn't relevant to their inclusion. KISS isn't being inducted for being ground-breakers in musicianship, they (like Nirvana) are being inducted for the impact they had on the music industry.

        Every mega-tour that's been conducted from the late 70s-onward, every time a band sells merchandise with their name on it, every time an act does a concert with massive pyro, electronics, etc., is following the template that KISS established.

        KISS is also one of the most grassroots, capitalist bands in music history. They became huge in no small part by playing shows in towns that most acts typically spurned. They saw a hole in the fanbase market and exploited it with gusto.

      4. Personally, I think ICP is more musically interesting.

        I can think of *two* ICP songs that are actually fun to listen to, and zero KISS songs.

        They're idiots, but they're idiots who can make a catchy tune.

        (I was never a big fan of 70s hard rock as such, but I doubly never understood the appeal of KISS.)

  7. Luckily the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just a private institution and anyone can start their own list and put their own bands on it. Or even better if you don't like the old band start a list of the New Rock and Rollers.

  8. Has T'Pau been inducted yet?

  9. Maybe this is the one saving grace of hipsters. Since they don't like music other people have heard of, they're not inclined to promote taxpayer supported museums to memorialize their favorite bands.

    1. Wait until they get old.

    2. Fuck "foodies" too.

      Anyone who says "I am a bit of a foodie" should be kicked in the groin.

      Yes, I eat food too. No, I do not like strawberries and nuts in my salad. Just because you do does not give you magical food tasting abilities.

      1. Foodies are annoying. I like food too. I love good restaurants. And my wife is a very good cook. But you know what? Who the fuck cares. What I eat is not my identity.

        1. I went through a "foodie" phase in undergrad. Holy shit was I annoying.

          1. I went to a "foodie" wedding. The food was mostly awful.

            The worst was raisins in the mashed potatoes. WHY DO MASHED POTATOES NEED FUCKING RAISINS!?

            *CPA reaches for bottle under desk*

            1. Yeah, unless you get pre-made mashed potatoes and raisins in your Chopped basket there is no reason to mix the two.

            2. Here is what "foodies" don't get. The best food is the food your grandmother fixed. I don't care what the type of food, the best of it is always the down home stuff that someone's grandmother made. The more rustic and authentic it is, the better it usually is.

              Foodies inevitably take the beautiful simplicity of that and fuck it up by over producing it. Yeah, what the fuck are raisins doing in mashed potatoes? They are there because some dipshit foodie thinks food has to be complex and cutting edge to be good.

              1. The best food is the food your grandmother fixed. I don't care what the type of food, the best of it is always the down home stuff that someone's grandmother made. The more rustic and authentic it is, the better it usually is.

                Some understand this, which why restaurants can get away with charging 20-40 a plate for some braised short ribs.

                1. I have had braised short ribs that were worth $20.

                  $40 is pretty damned steep.

              2. The best food is the food your grandmother fixed. I don't care what the type of food, the best of it is always the down home stuff that someone's grandmother made. The more rustic and authentic it is, the better it usually is.

                This. Thanksgiving is by far the best holiday because my grandmother is still alive and cooking (eh? sorry). It might quickly plummet to the worst when she is no longer around.

              3. The more rustic and authentic it is the better it usually is

                Some of the best food you'll ever eat is at any random trattoria in any random village in Italy. Pasta, sauce, bread, wine. Frankly, I think it is physically impossible to get a bad meal outside the major cities in Italy.

                1. Absolutely true. The restaurants in the rustic parts of Italy are the best in the world. A favorite memory is stumbling into a farmhouse restaurant in Piedmont that had actually been serving the same menu for over 200 years. Best meal I've ever had.

              4. foodies are just hipsters who eat out a lot. People who know food are not necessarily elitist and complicated about it. I read once about a nyc food critic who had leftover lasagna served at her wedding reception because it was her favorite food.

              5. You've obviously never tasted my grandmothers cooking.

                I'm not sure she understood that there were more cooking methods than boiling

            3. *it's super effective!*

            4. The worst was raisins in the mashed potatoes. WHY DO MASHED POTATOES NEED FUCKING RAISINS!?

              Argh! Ick. Something.

              OK, evidently I don't understand foodiism. I thought the point was to make small changes to make some dish even better, like using self-rising flour in tollhouse cookies. (Really, try it. It's a small difference, but damn they're good.)

              After hearing about raisins in mashed potatoes... Evidently not.

      2. There was a great bit on last night's Robot Chicken Christmas special where Santa wakes up some kid to ask if the cookies he left out contain any gluten.

        1. I happened to catch that. The elves and the work place hazards video was the top moment for me.

          1. Reindeer will EAT you!

      3. You people like food? You are the worst sort of monsters.

    3. Someday Brooklyn will be home to the Indie-Lesbian-AcousticTechnoProg Hall of Fame.

  10. There needs to be a Nirvana, KISS, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oats supergroup.

    1. You've never heard of the Foo Fighters?

      1. Heh. Many moons ago, when the Foo Fighters just started and were in Chicago to do a show, I just happened to be in the same area, doing some record shopping at Wax Trax, etc. I had several people come up to me and ask if I had any "extra tickets". I had no idea why I was being picked out while my friends weren't.

        Turns out I had - at the time - a resemblance to one of the band members.

  11. How is Kurt Cobain getting in on his own? He never did any work outside of Nirvana. I hate to piss in the millennials Cheerios but Nivanah is the most overrated band maybe ever. They were not that good. Bleech is a decent record and Nevermind has a couple of decent songs. But In Utero is a terrible record. I defy anyone to tell me they have actually listen to In Utero on a regular basis anytime during the last 15 years.

    The best Nivannah record was Unplugged in New York and most of the songs on that were covers. They just were not that good. They were not horrible. But they weren't Led Zeppelin either.

    1. Im pretty sure Nirvana is getting in, not Cobain on his own.


      How about some fucking consistency?

      You clearly know how to spell it, so fucking spell it the same each time.

      1. does inconsistancy get on your Nervana?

      2. I come for the philosophy but stay for the typos.

      3. NYRVYNNYH.

        That will be my black metal Nirvana cover band's name.

    2. Incesticide is pretty good.

      1. True. It is not that they are bad. It is that they just are not that great. I really don't get why people hold them up on this pedestal other than Cobain died and that makes him great or something.

        1. They were the inspiration for a huge slew of bands.

          That is reason enough.

          1. I don't think that is true. The were inspiration for record companies to sign a huge number of bands that already existed. How many later bands sounded like them? Not that many.

        2. There were several sympathy suicides after Cobain offed himself. Unfortunately, only several.

          1. MUH NAH IH UHFUH!

        3. It's because at the time they were unique and revolutionary. They kicked the hair bands off of their pedestal.

          1. I don't think they were either. I don't hear anything in those records that I hadn't already heard in stuff the Pixies and Jane's addiction were doing in the years before or MC5 or King Crimson were not doing long before that.

            I really don't see them as being that revolutionary. It only sounded revolutionary because it sounded so different than what was being played on the radio in 1991. But that just made it reactionary not revolutionary.

            1. True. Been Caught Stealing sounded more fresh to me in 1990 than Smells Like Teen Spirit. Nirvana was decent, but over played. The vocal technique and heavy rifting of both Alice in Chains and Sound Garden, the lyrical and sonic craft of the Smashing Pumpkins were all more remarkable at the time of the Grunge invasion. I didn't really think of them as the forefront of the movement at the time.

            2. I dunno, I never heard anything in the Pixies that didn't make me want to turn the music off.

              Jane's Addiction was ... damn near more overrated in "the cool kids'" subgroup than Nirvana, as I recall.

              (And I'm in a great place to recall that, since I was just getting out of high school when Nevermind came out and Nirvana Got Big.)

              I also don't see the comparison to King Crimson (!) at all...?

          2. They kicked the hair bands off of their pedestal.

            And rock hasn't been any fun since then.

            So, yeah, thanks Nirvana.

        4. I didn't know Kurt personally. But we did have the same drug dealer.

          1. I have met people who knew him. I hear he was a very nice soft spoken guy with the worst most evil shrew imaginable for a wife.

    3. Incesticide is the best Nirvana album. I still listen to Nirvana fairly frequently, probably because it reminds me of some pretty good times.

      1. Incesticide and Unplugged are their best albums. It's a bunch of covers of punk and New Wave bands, but they're melodic as hell.

        1. In Utero is their best album. Bleach is second.

          1. I give In Utero credit for being so odd. After Heart Shaped Box, Scentless Apprentice, and All Apologies, the album is mostly noise rock.

            Probably the first noise rock album to chart at #1 in the Top 200.

            But Bleach is unlistenable. And Nevermind is the Back in Black of grunge albums. I've already heard the entire album on the radio a gazillion times, and I don't want to hear it again.

            1. Perhaps Nirvana's best skill was to make Meat Puppets songs not just tolerable, but good.

              The main reason Unplugged is so good, in my estimation, is the Meat Puppets covers.

              Kurt had a good voice, but most of his songs don't do as much for me as those covers.

    4. To my punk rock jaded ears, Nirvana (and ilk) was the near death of alternative (New Romance, New Wave, punk, etc). Suddenly the sound got heavier and heavier with no synth and even less melody. It was more retro-70s butt rock than anything else. Many groups - for example, The Ocean Blue or The Walkabouts, ended up only getting minor college play or no recognition at all.

      I was in college when Nirvana hit - hated them from day one, and I heard them - via the Sub Pop 100 compilation - before the majority of people had. Of course back then - Big Black was one of my faves along with the Young Gods - how times have changed.

      1. ^^THIS^^

        I was in college too and I hated them as well. To me they never had any pop sensibility about them. I hate them for the same reason I have always hated the Sex Pistols. There is more to music than spitting on people and screaming.

        1. You don't listen to the Sex Pistols for the music. You listen to the Sex Pistols for the spitting on people and screaming.

      2. You might like Incesticide.

        1. or Unplugged

      3. Big Black and Naked Raygun at the No Bar & Grill in Muncie, IN in Spring 1986. Fucking glorious.


        Nirvana's version of "My Best Friend's Girlfriend."


          ...and "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam."

          1. I admit that unplugged in New York is a very good record. But it is mostly covers. Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam is not a Cobaine song.

            So yeah, if you want to give Cobain an acoustic guitar and make him play some other and better writer's music, it works out pretty well.

      5. I was 11 in '91 and liked Nirvana, but The Jesus Lizard changed my life.

      6. "To my punk rock jaded ears, Nirvana (and ilk) was the near death of alternative (New Romance, New Wave, punk, etc). Suddenly the sound got heavier and heavier with no synth and even less melody."

        While I can see part of where you're coming from, that sure seems like an odd critique from a punk perspective.

        I listened to more than my share of 80s punk, and I don't recall a whole lot of snyths, and I do recall a lot of heaviness.

        (But then I also couldn't stand New Wave, for the most part, having entirely burned out on it from hearing it - and New Wave Flavored Pop - endlessly on the radio.)

    5. You lying fuck. In Utero is fierce and gorgeous.

      Clearly the syphilis you have contracted from serial whale-fucking have addled what's left of your brain.

      1. Clearly you are a philistine who has no appreciate for music. You like noise, have fun.

        In Utero is a terrible record with ridiculous lyrics and not a single interesting riff or melody on the record.

        It just sucks.

        1. I liked it at the time, but I wouldn't want to listen to it today.

    6. The best Nirvana album is anything by Foo Fighters.

  12. I read the comments...may God have mercy on my soul.

    Assuming I still have one.

  13. Ugh, Joan Jett...

    Every time I go to a piano bar, I make sure to bring plenty of $1s so I can pay one dollar above the inevitable 'I Love Rock n' Roll' request and stop it dead in its tracks. The pianists usually get a total kick out of it and I do revel a little in the booing I get for it, but honestly, I truly can't fucking stand that song.

    1. So how may dimes are you putting in the juke box?

      1. +1 record machine

    2. You keep fighting the good ight. I fucking hate that song, too.

    3. Joan Jett actually has some very good and playable songs, esp from the eariler part of her career, but yeah, ILR&R is like a fucking rash that won't go away.

      The same is true of AC/DC. A few really decent songs, Whole LOtta Rosie being one of the best, but most of their popular songs are like a pack of matches propping up a wobbly table leg.

  14. ZZZZZZZZZZZ. who cares?

    I will say this - the RRHoF is entirely boring except for the Les Paul exhibit.

  15. What's the most Rock&Roll;(tm) thing you can imagine? That's right, going to a fucking museum.

    Also, Kiss sucks.

    1. If Rock is to survive, we have to get two dozen of our most bad ass vocalist, starting with Zakk Wylde, to march in around that goddamned building for three days and then turn toward it and scream until those walls crumble.

      Zakk at his funniest talking about sobriety and getting old:

      1. And here I thought Zakk was a guitarist, not a vocalist.

        1. You would think that, but Zakk is a piano man who just happened to branch out for the sake of not starving for his craft.

        2. And the criteria was BAD ASS because walls gotta crumble. Hard to imagine that happening without Wylde's presence.

      2. Rock is dead. It's old people's music and everyone knows it.

        Fun interview, though. "Fisting your prostate while you enjoy your Led Zepplin records."

        1. True about old people's music, but, still, the alternative, I've seen that new Obamacare ad, brrrr.

          1. Fucking auto-tune is the worst thing on the planet.

            1. I mean, the youth. If the choices are self fisting to Led Zep because I've gotten too old to party or drinking hot chocolate in plaid pajamas because the education system did a number on my head, my ass will be gaping.

      3. Not enough pinch harmonics in that interview.

  16. This is the most rock&roll; thing I've seen all week. Adorable.

      1. I approve. I've been on a big Agalloch kick lately, and this goes well with that.

  17. You know what's just as annoying as people who overanalyze their food? People who overanalyze their music.

    The music I like? I just like it. I hear a song, and I say "that's cool" or "that sucks". Bam.

  18. Nobunny is the most rock & roll thing I am listening to right now.

  19. Goddammit, Nick, I didn't donate money to Reason so I could read you dissing ELP. And especially Brain Salad Surgery.


    --but I gave you Life!


    --to do what was right!


    1. Actually, I think this.must be how a lot of off-air conversations between Welch and the Jacket go.

    2. ELP - welcoming our new computer overlords since 1973.

    3. Every time I hear that song (which is reasonably often, as it's on my Giant Playlist), it just makes me think how quaint it was that people in the 70s could think computers were "perfect".

      Dealing with them personally is all it took to destroy that fallacy.

  20. I'm a prog-rocker and I hate ELP. But that doesn't mean I'll stand by silently while some punk rocker criticizes them, any more than I'd let somebody else make fun of my dad.

    I mean, it does mean I'll stand by silently, but I'm not happy about it.

  21. it also doesn't need anything like an official hall of fame (even one that might provide shelter and a working bathroom for the presumably now-homeless Hall & Oates).

    Obviously you've never seen Live from Daryl's House. That guy has a huge House. Daryl Hall, that is.

  22. guys who used to wear flower pots on their heads (Peter Gabriel)

    When did Peter Gabriel wear a flower pot on his head? Dress up like a flower, yes. Wearing a flower pot, not that I remember. That's Devo.

    1. Do not mock Energy Dome.

  23. I always liked Steely Dan's take on the hall, including some mock attempts to bribe their way in by donating some old tape recorders.

    1. That was... Dannishly bizarre.

  24. The conspiracy on this side of the pond to marginalize Thin Lizzy and their influence on the hard rock and metal genres continues unabated.

    Not that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should mean dick to anyone..

    1. If you like Thin Lizzy, you might enjoy Ted Leo + The Pharmacists. I saw them at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor a few years ago with The Duke Spirit, decent show.

      1. I read years ago they were a mix of the cars and thin lizzy, two of my favorite bands and exactly what I was going for in my own music when I putzed around with that, so I had to hear it. I was totally disappointed. Didnt really hear it at all. But to be fair it was also only 3 or 4 songs and I could've missed out on a better era. I will recheck them out. Thanks.

  25. Turn on, Tune in, Drop out Gillespie.

  26. If rock and roll is doing its job, it should be an enemy of the state,

    How many Rock and Rollers have come out against Obamacare, Welfare, Che?

    Also Rock and Roll can't help but be establishment once the people who listen to it become the adults! Listening to your parents music is not rebellious!

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