News and Notes For This Day: Monday, November 6, 2023

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Edition: Part

Ceremonies were held this past week to honour this year’s inductees into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Those so honoured included Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, George Michael, MIssy Elliott, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners, DJ Kool Herc, Link Wray, Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, Bernmie Taupin and Don Cornelius. 

While the event was held in New York City, the actual Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum sits on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It opened in 1995. The rationale behind having the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the city of Cleveland dates back to the very beginning of the Rock n’ Roll era. Cleveland, Ohio was home for DJ Alan Freed. It was Freed who is credited with organizing the very first rock concert, as well as coining the phrase rock n’ roll. Cleveland’s geographic location is in the middle of northern trade routes that extend westward to Chicago and Detroit, eastward to Boston and New York City and southward toward Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Atlantic City, making it a central traveling route for bands and artists seeking to introduce rock music to the country back in the 1950s. It should also be noted that one of the deciding factors in Cleveland’s favour was the fact that backers of the museum raised millions of dollars of cash necessary to guarantee building loans would be honoured. I have never been to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum myself but it isdefinitely a bucket list destination. If you have been there, I would be interested in your thoughts. Please let me know in the comment box below.

The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a museum that is intended to document and honour all aspects of the history of rock n’ roll. As such, those people who are honoured with induction into the Hall represent all facets of the genre. This means that if you go to visit the museum you will find exhibits honouring individual artists and bands, as well as songwriters, producers, promoters and so on. The 2023 list of inductees is a prime example of the varied and inclusive types of people who end up in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In this series of three posts, it is my intention to briefly list all of them. For each inductee I will link to any previous posts that I have written as a way of explaining who they are and how they came to merit a place in the class of 2023. If I have never covered them then I will write a brief note of introduction. If there is a video clip of that person accepting their honour then I will link to that as well. I will list who inducted them and finally, I will state if they were even there to accept their honour or not. 

One of the defining characteristics of those who became involved in rock music was that they possessed an anti-establishment streak. Initially, rock n’ roll was deemed to be the Devil’s music because of the sexual suggestiveness of the lyrics and the way the music made people feel and want to move. Rock n’ Roll was supposed to be primal and dangerous. Because of this mindset, there have been many musicians and bands who have been accepted for induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame who have refused to attend the ceremony because they feel that this institution is more concerned with the commercial aspects of rock music, as opposed to the creative elements true rockers possess. The list of those who have snubbed the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is legendary and includes such stars as David Bowie, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Axl Rose, Grace Slick, Roger Waters, Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne as well as the most notorious no-shows of the all, The Sex Pistols who, in a letter read aloud during the ceremony, called The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame “a piss stain”. This year’s induction ceremony also featured several notable no-shows whose absence became as newsworthy as their actual induction. So, without further delay, may I present the 2023 inductees into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame!!!!

1- Name: Kate Bush

    Criteria for Induction:  You can read all about Kate Bush and her illustrious career by clicking here, here and here to read previous posts that I have written about her.

    Did She Attend: No.

    Who Inducted Her: Big Boi, rapper. Former member of Outkast.  

    Notes: Kate Bush has been my favourite singer for close to forty years now. I have voted for her induction as long as the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame has allowed for public voting. Kate Bush has been a true original right from the very beginning of her career and is the antithesis of a corporate rock performer. I am thrilled she was recognized with induction into the Hall of Fame but not surprised in the least that she did not attend the ceremony.  

     Induction Ceremony Profile: The video link is here.

2- Name: Sheryl Crow.

    Criteria for Induction: Here is a post I previously wrote about Sheryl Crow’s life and career. You can read it by clicking here.

    Did She Attend: Yes.

    Who Inducted Her: Actress/Activist Laura Dern

    Notes: Sheryl Crow passed the generational baton during her performance when she teamed up with current Pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo. 


Induction Ceremony Profile: The link to the video is here.

3- Name: George Michael.

Criteria for Induction: Here is a post that I previously wrote about George Michael’s life and career. You can read it by clicking here

Did He Attend: No. Unfortunately, this was a posthumous award.

Who Inducted Him: Andrew Ridgeley, his former partner in the band Wham!

Notes: One of the best singers of his generation, George Michael was also a person of substance. He took several career-threatening stands: one was against the way he was being marketed based on his looks rather than his music and, as well, by being so open about his sexual orientation at a time when it was not always safe to do so. During the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Michael’s rendition of “Somebody To Love” was hailed as one of the two best moments, along with David Bowie and Annie Lennox’s dynamic rendition of “Pressure”.

Induction Ceremony Profile: The link to the video is here.

4-Name: Missy Elliott.

    Criteria for Induction: Missy Elliott is one of the most successful and influential female Hip Hop singers of all time. She is known as the Queen of Rap. She has won four Grammy Awards and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide during her career. She is the best selling female rapper in history and the first female rapper to be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. 

    Did She Attend: Yes.

   Who Inducted Her: Queen Latifah.

   Notes: When you attend a rock concert you expect to hear the musical act build to a grand finale that includes their best/most popular hits. Well, at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, each inductee is honoured by performing themselves or else, by having others pay tribute. At the 2023 ceremony the organizers saved what they considered to be the best for last and that was Missy Elliott. “Get Ur Freak On!” had them dancing in the aisles for sure.

   Induction Ceremony Profile: The link for the video is here

***This concludes Part of my look at the 2023 Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Tune in tomorrow for Part when we will take a closer look at Rage Against the Machine, Willie Nelson, The Spinners, Chaka Khan and DJ Kool Herc. See you then. 

The link to the official website for The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #162: Freedom-90 by George Michael (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song and going until I reach Song . When you see the song title listed as something like: Song (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #162: Freedom 90 by George Michael.

George Michael possessed one of the best singing voices in modern music throughout the whole of his career. I feel that way. Many fans and music critics, alike, all feel that way. But, most importantly of all, George Michael, himself, felt that way. Maybe not that his voice was better than that of his peers but, he had a certain confidence in his singing abilities. It was his voice that he was most proud of and, in the course of his early career, it was one of the least promoted aspects of who he was as a performer. “Freedom 90” is a song all about George Michael declaring that he was no longer willing to go along with how he was being promoted within the music industry; that he didn’t want to be a sex symbol or a “pretty face” but, instead, he wanted to be known simply for his voice.

George Michael first gained fame, along with his friend, Andrew Ridgely, as a duo who went by the stage name of “Wham”. Wham had many hits during the 1980s, including, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go!”, “Careless Whisper”, “Last Christmas”, “Everything She Wants”, “I’m Your Man” and many more. Both young men were model-handsome and were marketed as teen Pop idols. Eventually, Michael left Wham and started a very successful solo career that, by the time of his death, had seen him sell over 100 million albums worldwide. His first solo album was called, “Faith”, which spawned the hits, “I Want Your Sex”, “Faith”, Father Figure”, “One More Try” and “Kissing A Fool”. Many of the music videos for these songs featured George Michael’s face and his butt, while placing him in positions as being a very sexy, heterosexual male. Not surprisingly, many young women all around the world viewed him as being very dreamy and had his posters adorning their bedroom walls.

*In fact, I can clearly remember this being an on-going theme on the TV show, “Full House”, where the teenage daughter, D.J., had George Michael’s poster above her bed and pointed to him as being her “dream boyfriend”. In the video for “Freedom 90”, Michael burns the leather jacket shown in this poster, destroys his guitar and throws away his glasses…all to show that he would no longer play along with the image being created for him by others.

Well, as mentioned above, George Michael viewed himself, first and foremost, as a serious singer. He grew tired of the superficiality of being known more for how he looked rather than the quality of his music. He demanded to be taken more seriously as a performer. He voiced this, loudly and clearly, in the video for the song, “Freedom 90” from his second album called, “Listen Without Prejudice”. The song, itself, and the video that was made to support it, took great pains to thoroughly and completely torch his career up until that point. There is much talk about not judging him on his appearance……”sometimes, the clothes do not make the man”. But, it was the video that really brought this point home.

Up until that moment, George Michael had been the focal point of every video of his. In the video for “Freedom 90”, he turned this premise on its’ ear. For the video, he hired some of the biggest names in the world of fashion modelling at the time (Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, among others) to lip-sync the song on screen. George Michael does not physically appear in the video at all. The lack of his physical presence caused viewers to have to focus on his voice. The visuals all went to people who are paid to be judged on their appearance. In the end, George Michael made the point that he was a singer, first, and not a model. From that point on, he was treated with much more respect, as befitted one of the greatest vocal talents of his generation. What helped George Michael’s point to be more palatable with fans and critics was that he spoke his truth behind a truly great song! “Freedom 90” is an awesome song, from start to finish, and has become one of his most popular songs of all-time, as much for the quality of the music, as for the personal and professional points being scored.

As most of you know, in 1990, George Michael’s personal and professional transition did not end with the song, “Freedom 90”. As humans, one of the most common aspects to the pattern of change is that, for most people, change takes time to fully transition through. In George Michael’s case, he went from an unknown young man, to a teen Pop star in Wham. Then, a few years later, he went from teen Pop star in Wham, to teen Pop star as a solo artist. Then, a few year after that, he transitioned from teen Pop star, to a more serious and respected singer who was judged mostly on his voice. Then, seven years after “Freedom 90” came out, George Michael completed his public metamorphoses by coming out as being Gay. This was still a risky step to take, even as recently as 1997 but, by then, most people had suspected as much and, in the end, very few people really cared about that aspect of his life. All that mattered was that he was still a good singer which was all George Michael ever wanted to be viewed as, anyway.

So, without further delay, here is a super video for a terrific song…”Freedom 90″ by George Michael. Enjoy!

The link to the video for the song, “Freedom-90” by George Michael, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Somebody To Love”, as covered by George Michael, can be found here.

The link to the official website for George Michael, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

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