Diversity and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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I write this as we come off the official announcements of the 2017 Rock & Roll HOF inductees.  Journey made it, as did Pearl Jam.  Excellent!  I approve.  With very limited slots, though (only 5 to 7 make it through each year) I was dismayed to see Jane’s Addiction not make the cut.  Then… supremely puzzled to see that Tupac did.  Odd.  This is under the name of ‘diversity’, but is ironically anything but that.  ‘Diversity’ doesn’t get in foreign language groups, or foreign music.  To the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Jann Wenner “Diversity” is limited to black artists, because they (wisely) want to be more inclusive of black culture… since it spawned rock and roll.

So, I am ok with that.  Ok, no I am not.  If I were, why would I be writing? If we are going to bounce Jane’s Addiction for a non rock, black only, act… why not go back to the pioneers?  How about Son House or Leadbelly?

See, if we are going to play the diversity card, and talk about how much black music and culture inspired rock and roll… let’s give those old guys credit, first.  I am talking about the actual people who inspired and invented rock and roll.  They don’t, because no 18 year old black kid (or white kid… or any kid for that matter) can relate to a 95 year old guy and some super terrible lofi recordings from 60 years ago).  They (the Rock Hall of Fame nominating committee Jan Wenner) want to be relevant to today’s youth and culture.  It is a smart and business savvy move… but that is all it is.

How can I best explain my frustration?  Better question; how can I best describe my frustration without coming across as racist?  As always, it is analogy time!

Imagine there was a rap hall of fame.  Imagine that they had the same rules as the R&R HOF… like they can only let in 5 groups a year.  Imagine, then, that NWA and Tupac were not in yet.  Imagine they were on this year’s ballot, but instead James Taylor and Neil Diamond made the cut.  How would that go over?   Go tell the black community that, although NWA are great, the Rap Hall of Fame needs diversity.  Not pertinent diversity, like Eminem, but Jimmy Buffet.

tangent alarm – 💣

Why not induct Toby Keith (who i just assume is racist, I honestly don’t know.  Between being stuck in his misogynist bars, and the great story of Kristofferson dressing him down proper… we can only assume he is also racist).  ok, I have to finish this little Toby Keith tangent.  I have been to his bars, against my will.  He has women dancing in cages in his bar.  Fucking cages!  That isn’t sexy, that is sickening.  Don’t tell me ‘they are there of their free will, they can do what they want.  They probably make good money’!  It is still wrong.  What if he dressed young black folks as slaves with manacles and such and put them in cages around the bar?  That isn’t sexy, it is fucked up.

Now do you see how dumb it is to tell me that Tupac bumps Jane’s Addiction (or… anyone)?

Can I also say I am disappointed that Bad Brains didn’t make it.  Again, you want diversity, right?  Name a black rock band.  Other than Living Color.  You can’t, racist!  If Jann wants to try and embrace and include black culture… then Bad Brains solves almost all of that.  In fact, musically… they define diversity.  They play speed metal reggae, which is also super spiritual.  Maybe that isn’t rock and roll enough?  Well, the lead singer has a history of drug abuse and arrests.  Still not rock and roll enough?  HR, the bands’ amazing and mercurial singer, also got arrested for braining an audience member with the bass of a mic stand.  Those fuckers are pure steel, and the good ones weigh a hefty 15 pounds.***

** what does the photo up top have to do with this?  It is the cover of the Clash’s ‘London Calling’.  This has nothing to do with the Clash, though, it’s just  probably the best rock photo ever taken.  That photo was not staged, and the photog was lucky  to catch it.  Remember, this is before digital photos and before ‘burst’ photography.  Basically, the photog was shooting the bass player when he happened to capture an epic meltdown.  Probably didn’t even know what she had until a few days later when he developed the film.  that photo just embodies rock and roll on every level.

*** Note how I didn’t say ‘allegedly’ braining an audience member?  That is what is fun about blogging.  I  don’t have to be careful or legal.  Well, I should… but you notice cower behind a pseudonym and stock photoallegedly.

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