Each year, the old bastards at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
invite some other old bastards to join the club. Usually, they're either obvious (this year, Tom Waits
, who really should have been in about 15 years ago) or questionable (Alice Cooper
is cool, but he has maybe 10 truly great songs in his career).
We want to lobby for 10 classic artists who are on the outside looking in and absolutely, positively should be in any legit hall of fame.
Unless you were there and remember (and you might not anyway if you were around in the early 1970s), you might not realize Deep Purple were part of the Holy Trinity of British Hard Rock alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Excellent instrumentalists and live performers, the band went through lineup changes that eventually derailed their momentum, but they deserve to be with their contemporaries.
It's shocking a band this popular and influential have not been recognized. Basildon's finest transitioned from bouncy synth-pop to dramatic, leather-clad snyth-rock over the course of the '80s and early '90s, becoming one of the biggest bands in the world for a few years. Without them, many of the most interesting bands of the past 20 years would not exist, and Goth nights the world over would not have some of their catchiest tunes to mope-dance to.
The bright, shiny counterpoint to Depeche Mode's dark sensuality, Duran Duran defined the New Romantic period of the early to mid-'80s. The group's output varied wildly from brilliant (Rio and Duran Duran, a.k.a. "The Wedding Album") to crappy (the Thank You covers album), but they influenced every stylish rocker since and have survived for three decades. That is more than enough.
Okay, so it's more about the live show and cultish fan base than consistently great musical output. However, KISS were an actual, functioning hard rock band at one time, and they wrote some classic singles in their heyday. They were and are immensely popular, and they injected some much-needed panache into an otherwise deadly serious and boring era of mainstream rock. They still sell out everywhere they decide to play, and people are starting to rediscover the musical side of their history.
Without this group, the previous two and pretty much every artist who has ever touched a keyboard would be wiped from the map or stuck in a garage somewhere, at best. The least evil Germans ever combined robotic beats, synths and influences from classical through noise and psychedelia into one futuristic whole. And where would hip-hop be without sampling these guys?
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Yes, they will almost certainly get in soon, but it's a surprise they weren't first-ballot inductees. They've survived members' departures and a death, crippling addictions, and 30 years of incredible changes in the music world. The Chili Peppers have sold tens of millions of albums, inspired countless other artists and probably grossed you out once or twice. In other words, they've done exactly what a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band should do.
Love 'em or hate 'em, these three Canadians have sold about 4 trillion albums, and they have influenced bands as disparate as Smashing Pumpkins, Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta. Spectacular instrumentalists, they learned to combine epic concepts, Ayn Rand-influenced lyrics and pop songwriting into a prog-rock sound that resonated with dorks and jocks alike. Geddy Lee also proved that insane bass chops and a wailing voice can overcome looks that could charitably described as "radio-ready."
You didn't think we would forget about Messrs. Morrissey, Marr, Rourke and Joyce, did you? This is SoCal, after all. The most influential English indie bands of the '80s re-defined what a rock band could look like (pale, fey and often on the verge of fainting) and sound like ('60s pop, rockabilly and post-punk fronted by a crooning bookworm). They also happened to be some of the greatest songwriters of any era. They should make it on the basis of The Queen Is Dead alone, and they had perhaps the most consistently excellent five years of any band in rock history after the Velvet Underground.
Godfathers of glam led by rock's great elf savant, Marc Bolan. Pretty much one-hit wonders in the U.S., T. Rex's career lasted longer in their native England, but young bubblegummers were listening all over the world. This period and movement were among the headiest in rock history, leading to revolutions in music and image. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" still makes driving, dancing in front of the mirror or doing anything cool even cooler.
The last band on the list also had fewer hits in America than at home in the U.K., but they were doozies (Glee-approved "She's Not There," "Tell Her No" and the stone-cold classic "Time of the Season"). The group were pioneers whose sophisticated, jazzy sound would influence '70s yacht rockers, '80s smoothies and '90s Pop Underground fanatics alike. Rod Argent would go heavy, and Colin Blunstone would go soft and weird, but neither bettered their Zombies material.