News and Notes For This Day: Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Edition: Part

In yesterday’s post *(which you can read here) we talked a bit about how the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame came to be located in Cleveland, we touched on the fact that many musicians refuse to attend their own induction ceremony and we focused on the first four inductees: Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, George Michael and Missy Elliott. Today we are moving on through our Class of 2023 inductees and will talk about Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners and arguably the most influential person in this year’s class, DJ Kool Herc. Time to get this party started. Here are the inductees!

1-Name: Willie Nelson.

Mr. Wilie Nelson.

Criteria for Induction: I have written previously about the life and career of Willie Nelson. You can read those posts here and here. He is a legend for a reason.

Did He Attend: Yes. 

Who Inducted Him: Willie Nelson was inducted by Dave Matthews.

Notes: Of all of the inductees in the Class of 2023, Willie Nelson is the most surprising name to me because I had assumed that he had been inducted years ago! Willie has been a legend in the world of music for decades now as a solo artist, as a member of The Highwaymen and as a collaborator with almost anyone who has ever played a musical instrument or sang a note of a song. To prove my point, Willie collaborated with many others during the concert portion of the induction ceremonies. In the photo off to the side, he is playing with Dave Matthews and Sheryl Crow, among others.

Induction Video Profile: You can find the link to that video here.   

2- Name: Rage Against the Machine.

Rage Against the Machine members Zack de la Rocha, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford and Tom Morello.
Zack de la Rocha, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford and Tom Morello.

    Criteria for Induction: I have written previously about the impact that Rage Against the Machine has had as a band and their members have had as members of other notable bands. You can read those posts here and here. They are loud in more ways than just one.

   Did They Attend: Yes and No.  Guitarist Tom Morello attended but singer Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk did not. In his outstanding acceptance speech, Morello made note of the differences of opinion in the band regarding the validity of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as an institution. Singer de la Rocha opted to march in one of the many pro-Palestine demonstrations happening around the world.

Who Inducted Them: As befits a band as stridently political as Rage Against the Machine, they were inducted by one of the original hardcore rap artists Ice-T.

Notes: While I will post the official Hall of Fame profile video below, I am going to post the link to Tom Morello’s speech here. For those who like a good speech, this one is a rousing call to arms by Morello regarding the political state of the world and the environment. It is the strong, passionately articulated kind of speech that has been lacking from those on the side of democracy and justice. Morello says something that I have always maintained and that is in times of trouble, Art and music will help light the path forward but that it is up to all of us to act of our own accord and fight for a better world. It is the hype speech the world has been waiting for.

Induction Video Profile: The link to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame profile video can be found here.

3- Name: The Spinners.

   Criteria for Induction: The Spinners have been in existence since the 1950s and continue to perform in 2023. However, the history of The Spinners is a lot like that of The Drifters *(who I profiled in a very interesting post…at least to me…that you can read here). There were The Spinners, The Original Spinners, The Motown Spinners, The UK Spinners and so on down the line. The group that is touring in 2023 that bills itself as The Spinners contains not a single original member of the band that enjoyed their biggest hits in the 1970s. The Spinners had their greatest success in the 1970s with hits such as “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”, “I’ll Be Around” “One Kind (of Love Affair)” and one of my own personal favourite songs from the 70s, “The Rubberband Man”. They had multiple gold records and eight singles. The members of The Spinners who were recognized during the induction ceremony included Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson, Bobbie Smith, Philippe Wynne and John Edwards.

Did They Attend: Yes and No. At age 85, Henry Fambrough was the only living member of The Spinners in attendance. He spoke words of gratitude for the honour via video message. He also spoke of regret at his fellow Spinners not being there to enjoy their moment with him.

Who Inducted Them: The 1980s boy band version of The Spinners, New Edition inducted them and then performed a silky smooth three song tribute set.

Notes: The Spinners originated in Detroit. The Motor City should be declared a national historic site simply based on the enormous musical impact the city has had on the culture of the U.S. Needless to say, The Spinners worked with everyone back in the day including Aretha Franklin, everyone at Motown and were one of the bands most associated with the TV show Soul Train hosted by Don Cornelius (who we will talk about in greater detail in tomorrow’s post).

Induction Video Profile: The link to this video can be found here.    

4- Name: DJ Kool Herc.

    Criteria for Induction: Simply put, DJ Kool Herc is one of the Holy Trinity of people responsible for the birth of Hip Hop as a musical genre. I have included mentions of him in posts about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, as well as Afrika Bambaataa that you can read here and here. The whole Hip Hop ideal of rapping rhymes over beats mixed on turntables, scratched to make new sounds from existing sounds, started with DJ Kool Herc. If you trace the timeline of Hip Hop back to its origins, you will find yourself at a house party or a block party hosted by DJ Kool Herc where he would be transforming the funk from James Brown records and exhorting B’ Boys and B’ Girls to dance to his syncopated beats. DJ Kool Herc’s induction is a grand acknowledgement of his role in shaping the world of Hip Hop.

    Did He Attend: Yes.

    Who Inducted Him: Every Hip Hop artist who ever had even one moment in the spotlight should have been clamouring to induct DJ Kool Herc. In the end, the honour went to rapper LL Cool J.

    Notes: DJ Kool Herc is not a young man any longer. At almost 80 years of age, he required assistance to climb the stairs that led to the stage. Once there, he cried tears of joy and humility. He spoke words that were barely audible at times but the love and respect with which he was held was clearly evident in how the audience responded. In times such as these when so much division and cruelty mark our modern discourse, the love accorded him and the patience provided by the audience as he struggled to give his speech speaks volumes about the good that remains in our world. Love trumps hate. This can be seen so well at this moment. You can watch DJ Kool Herc accept his induction award here.

   Induction Video Profile: The link to the video about the life, career and cultural impact of DJ Kool Herc can be seen here.   

That’s it for today’s post. Tomorrow I will wrap up my look at this year’s Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony by profiling Chaka Khan, Bernie Taupin, Link Wray, Al Kooper and Don Cornelius. 

I will conclude with remarks about two things I learned from your comments yesterday. Firstly, I have been told by someone who has been there and who noted that a visit to the museum was on my bucket list that the Rock Hall, as it is known, is a huge place. She recommended that if I plan on visiting it, I should give myself at least two days to do so. I have made note of that and am grateful for the advice. Thanks JKH!  

Secondly, the whole process of nominating potential inductees to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and then voting on who gets in has been a source of controversy and confusion for many years. Many influential music industry types sit as members of the nominations committee. In the past, people like Phil Spector used his influence to ensure that his ex-wife Ronnie Spector was never given her due *(which she eventually got when he was imprisoned for murder. Her story can be read in a previous post that you can find here). The latest controversy to plague the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame came from the man responsible for heading Rolling Stone Magazine for many years, Jann Warner. In a book he released in time for the holiday shopping season, Warner wrote disparaging comments about female musicians, as well as musicians of colour. Needless to say, Warner was removed from his position at the Rock Hall but his comments surely cast a pall over this year’s proceedings. Thanks to my WordPress pal RD for pointing out that the music may be great but The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame remains a flawed organization. Hopefully, as RD stated, a new and better version of itself will emerge going forward. 

Thank you to everyone who reads my words and responds with stories, comments and ideas of your own. I appreciate your feedback and support. Your interest in my blog and in the content I cover is the fuel that powers my creative endeavours. Thanks again. See you all tomorrow.

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

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