People in Northeast Ohio love to debate when Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee time rolls around. Everyone has their favorite artists who have been slighted and maligned time and again come voting time. With the induction ceremonies returning to Cleveland in 2012, excitement could get remarkably high, especially as it relates to the ceremony itself. The possibility for an extraordinary live show at Cleveland Public Auditorium - perhaps even a revered event like The Concert for the Hall of Fame - exists.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum President and CEO Terry Stewart is never one to predict such things, although he and his staff are working diligently on making the events surrounding the 2012 Inductions every bit as exciting as last year’s to-do at Public Hall. Regarding who'll be honored, Stewart won't speculate. “There are no slam-dunks,” Stewart told Ohio Authority about the potential Class of 2012. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years and you can never bet on a particular act getting in because of the voting process. At this point, it’s undeterminable. I wouldn’t even venture a guess at this point.”
With respect to Stewart, that won’t stop intrepid crystal ball readers like me to attempt just that.
Submitted for your approval (and cross-referenced mightily through the Rock Hall website and the fan blog/discussion forum Future Rock Legends) here are some of the possibilities for the Class of 2012”that might be rocking (or rapping) in a historic venue near you.
First Time Inductees
N.W.A., the Pixies, Jane’s Addiction and Public Enemy are among that year’s first-time eligibles. N.W.A. basically invented gangsta rap and Public Enemy perfected socio-political rap. Both groups remain viable and influential, with a test for echo appearing in a lot of rock music long after their first records. If Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC are in, these groups are likely to get in early. (Also, Anthrax just reformed, so the rock-rap summit “Bring Tha Noize” can happen, too).
As for the Pixies and Jane’s Addiction, both acts were hugely influential on the breakout of alternative rock in the 1990s. Jane’s leader Perry Farrell also re-imagined the touring festival concept, introducing mainstream America to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Primus and Smashing Pumpkins. We’re not sure if Kurt Cobain and Nirvana (see also “the most influential band of the 90s”) happens if not for Black Francis and Co. Cobain even said as much in print. Play that chaos theory out: does Warren, Ohio native Dave Grohl end up drumming for Nirvana if Cobain doesn’t hear Surfer Rosa?
On the flip side, do Nickelback or Stone Temple Pilots have a career if not for the Pixies? Only a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon knows for sure.
Still in Play
They haven’t been eligible for that long, but the likes of Tom Waits, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Replacements and the Beastie Boys are all possibilities.
All are alive and kicking, and all have been a peak of influence in their respective genres, although we believe that it would take an act of God to get the Replacements back together on stage for the night. Still, if anyone can perform said divinities, it’s the Rock Hall.
Speaking of divinities, if Guns N’ Roses are still on the board after 2011, expect a full-blown reunion like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac before them.
This is where it gets interesting. In some instances, these bands have been eligible for more that ten years and always inspire a rallying cry from their respective fan bases.
Would a lion’s share of us even be alive to read (or write?) this if it wasn’t for Neil Diamond? (OK, maybe that’s just me.)
Still, Alice Cooper owes some of his macabre to Cleveland’s “Screamin’” Jay Hawkins, but he has been an influence on bands for four decades. Everyone from Kiss to Slipknot owes a debt to Cooper, who proved that rock concerts could (and should, at the edge of sanity) stand as events and spectacles. Then there’s Kiss, who invented music marketing long before Hall of Fame inductee Madonna did.
Does orchestral rock, dreampop or the bands-with-orchestras phenomenon happen without The Moody Blues? Do air guitar-and-drumming, or marathon Dungeons & Dragons weekends happen without Yes, King Crimson, Todd Rundgren, Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel and the ultimate canuck trio, Rush? (OK, maybe it’s just me on that last one, too… but, c’mon! It’s Rush!)
Consider that in April of 2012, you might see any combination of these acts live and on-stage at a public induction ceremony, right in the very heart and soul of downtown Cleveland and beamed around the world for everyone to see. Stewart looks to build upon the success of 2009, offering that the days and events leading to and including the induction ceremony “seemed to work pretty good” for everyone involved.
“Regardless of who is inducted, we’ll be looking to base 2012 on that experience,” Stewart says. “Probably some seven, eight days of activities and some free stuff for residents leading up to the inductions.” Just like that show at the ol’ stadium that happened 15 years ago this weekend? It’s possible. I just hope someone brings the lasers, greasepaint and flashpots that night. Seriously.
For now Stewart is concentrating on the Rock Hall Ball celebrating the Rock Hall’s esteemed 15th Anniversary on Cleveland’s lakefront this Friday, September 3, and a speaking engagement at the City Club of Cleveland beforehand. Details for both events can be found online. Check out Fresh Start for details.
“We’re expecting a great night,” Stewart says. “And we’re happy to be celebrating 15 years of success - beyond which was predicted.”