Metallica, The Rock Hall of Fame & Redemption

by Rick Rockwell

Can the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ever redeem itself after admitting one of its worst group of inductees in 2008?

If the Rock Hall manages to induct Metallica in 2009, perhaps that questionable institution will have crawled back part of the way from some of its horrendous choices of the past.

Metallica is eligible for induction to the hall this year for the first time. Artists are eligible for the hall 25 years after the release of their first recording. Metallica should be a first ballot shoo-in to the hall. They are one of the biggest bands in the world, and critics of the hall have lamented how selection is often these days based upon record and ticket sales and not merit. However, Metallica is also one of the best heavy metal bands ever and certainly can be credited with inventing thrash metal and all of its sub-sub-genres.

So far, the hall has only inducted one heavy metal band: Black Sabbath. So a band of Metallica’s stature is overdue.

Of course, this is the same Hall of Shame that inducted Madonna, the Ventures, and the Dave Clark Five, among other questionable inductees last year. This blog’s various commentaries on those nominees proved controversial enough to spark arguments in not one, but two different posts in the past year. To summarize:

  1. How is it Madonna qualifies as a rock performer?
  2. If you let Madonna in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t that allow anyone to be admitted?
  3. Is the hall to merely celebrate fame or is a choice based upon merit in contributions to rock music?
  4. If you admit a bubblegum band like the Dave Clark Five, why not the Monkees?
  5. Aren’t the Ventures too forgettable to be considered let alone inducted?
  6. Why is John Mellencamp, a second-rate Bob Seger/Bruce Springsteen clone, in the hall?
More pointed questions are possible, and so the complaints are evident.

Controversy over selections to the hall isn’t new. Actually, a vote counting controversy in 2007 kept the Dave Clark Five from induction that year. Some felt the band's induction in 2008 was a bit of a make-good for that flap. And of course, any institution where Rolling Stones’ Jann Wenner gets to make the key choices is automatically suspect.

Some of those gripes can be set aside, however, this year, if the hall does the right thing and inducts Metallica.

And the hall’s selectors can go further. Jeff Beck is also on the nomination list. Beck is in the hall as a member of the Yardbirds, but his exclusion as a solo artist is one of the snubs that doesn’t seem to make sense.

The Stooges, Detroit’s primal garage band that launched the career of Iggy Pop (real name: James Osterberg, Jr.) and proved inspirational for both the punk movement and alternative bands should also be admitted. The Stooges are also on the list of nominees with Beck and Metallica. Electing the trifecta would go even further toward erasing the bad memories of 2008.

There are other worthy acts the hall is considering this year, but those three would be at the top of this critic’s ballot, if this critic had a ballot.

And if the hall doesn’t wake up and admit some real rock acts this year instead of the lame pop idols deemed appropriate in the past? Well, there’s always the rejoinder the Sex Pistols used when learning the hall had invited them to be inducted: they called the place a “piss stain” and refused to show for the induction ceremonies. For now, that seems appropriate.

(The promotional photo of Metallica playing live in 2006 in Park City, Utah is from Warner Brothers Records. Metallica continues its world tour with two nights at Los Angeles' Forum; the second performance is tonight, Dec. 18. To see a video of Metallica's live premeire of "Cyanide" at this year's OzzFest in Dallas, please check below.)

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Turk said...

Amen. The Rock Hall was made for Metallica, one of the biggest, most influential bands in history. They represent all that is rock.

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