I know everyone in the whole music world has gone on and on about this during the past week, but I have to admit there are several interesting things that have caught my eye with the Hall of Fame inductions over the weekend. First off, I think it’s great that a lot of backing groups were inducted (The Miracles, The Comets, The Crickets, etc.) It’s absolutely time for them to get their moment. For me those chosen this year were deserving and it was a good mix.
However, over all I kind of roll my eyes at this kind of thing – not because it’s not important (because it is) but because of who’s still been turned down and that genre seems to not play a part anymore. Artists like ABBA and Madonna absolutely should get recognition – as should rappers and various other styles of artists…but it confuses me that they’re inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame because they are accomplished and important…but they are not rock. So either we need to rename the institution ‘The Popular Music that Is Not Country Hall of Fame’ or make some more institutions because the main thing I’ve seen fans complain on message boards this week is that acts near and dear to their hearts and history are being ignored for non-rock acts. And let’s face it: rock n’ roll is diverse as it is. You’ve got your classic rock, blues rock, hard rock, Brit rock, British invasion/Mersey sound, Motown, eighties rock/metal, some other branches of metal, folk rock, southern rock…I mean seriously there’s a ton of branches as it is. And while of course a lot of fans are irked because groups/artists they particularly like have been ignored, even I have to admit that some of the choices have been bizarre. Blondie is in but not Heart? No Rush? No KISS?? Say what you want about the groups, but they are iconic and have made defining contributions. I feel like the more this sort of thing goes on the more people are just going to stop caring about the music, which is a shame.
And of course there’s Guns n Roses. Yeah I know everyone has weighed in on this but I have to admit that it fascinates me. On the one hand Axl has every right to make the decisions he does. He owns the GNR name and can do what he wants. Do I think that business deal was fair? No. Do I think he should still be touring under the name with a revolving group of musicians to preserve his own sense of comfort and importance? No. Here’s the thing: some bands can get away with touring together forever and it works (Think Rolling Stones). Some groups have changed so much that no matter how much people may WANT to see them get back together, it has to be admitted that it wouldn’t be the same (Led Zeppelin for this one. Yeah I know everyone wants this and I am a major Zep fan but it just wouldn’t be the same. Everyone has grown into their own person and are happy doing their own thing so why try to re-birth history?). And some groups are bound and determined to keep their brand name and tour even if they have to keep replacing people – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on who you ask. I know Journey fans who like the new line-up and those that hate it. And personally I would never pay money to see Queen now that Freddie Mercury’s gone; I can’t fathom doing that in the name of nostalgia when I can listen to my CDS of the real thing.
So what category does GNR fall into? I really don’t know. I think seeing the original lineup play together again could be amazing, but let’s be super-honest and fair: it’s not going to happen. When there are people that at odds with each other or that different in personality it doesn’t matter if they shared key experiences or if they founded an iconic band together. If there’s a divide then it’s not going to come back. And for all we know it just wouldn’t be the same, anyway. Everyone has moved on and worked to do their own thing. Do I think the monopoly of the name is ridiculous? Of course. It shocked me reading through message boards that there’s a substantial group of people who think that the new line-up should have been the ones inducted – never mind that they’re pretty much there to back up Axl. I’m sure they’re awesome in their own rights (DJ Ashba is the only name of the new group I recognize and he is insanely good), but they didn’t form the band. And for better or worse when you’re dealing with a band there’s more than one personality and side to a story times ten. Unfortunately as fans and music lovers people just have to let this go at some point. Enjoy the music that was made and get on with your lives like the band members themselves are doing. Yeah it’s a stupid situation that leaves a lot of people disappointed, but we’re not involved in it. We still have all the old songs and videos to look back on and rock out to.
I personally think Axl’s going to regret his decision to not attend at some point, but it’s his call. It’s a shame to miss something so important. You know, even if it’s a political move by the committee or something to play to people’s interests he’s still getting in the hall of freakin’ fame. So many people would love to have that honor so why turn it down? There are plenty of people who could have thumbed their nose at the induction. I love the fact that performers like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop showed up for theirs – their have been so many attempts to belittle their contributions through the years so hell yes they should show up and claim it when it’s offered! It’s so ironic and hilarious – they’ve reached the point where their influence is undeniable even though they may make the powers that be uncomfortable.
Axl is obviously of the mind that he’s sculpting the path he wants to walk and that’s cool. He’s not the first to try to turn it down and won’t be the last. All the best to him. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that those that are being inducted also have made huge contributions to popular music history and deserve their own recognition. It isn’t Axl and the Roses, after all. It’s GNR. I’m not going to deny that he has done some killer vocals in his time and he has had good instincts; I haven’t heard his newer stuff so I can’t weigh in on Chinese Democracy. But it’s also pretty obvious that Slash, Duff, Izzy, and Steven have made their own sizeable impact. Good musicians are good musicians and a brand can’t take away from that.