And the nominees are…
Each year, Jann Wenner and his merry cast of cronies unravel a new list of nominees for induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Each year, music fans get themselves into a tizzy regarding who might get in, who wasn’t nominated, who’s in already, and hey, what the hell does “rock and roll” mean anyway? This year will be no different. For the first time, the grunge era rears its head, and a few long-ignored artists appear to finally be on the verge of getting their due propers.

Fans get the chance to have their say: go over to rollingstone.com and vote for who you’d like to see inducted. Your cumulative votes will be included as one total vote during the induction process.

Anywhere between 4-6 of these artists will be enshrined in Cleveland come next spring

Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Butterfield was an iconic blues/rock harmonica player. Can’t say I know much about him or his band otherwise.

Chic: Perennially nominated disco icons. Core unit (Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers, Tony Thompson) played on, wrote or produced hundreds of the most influential records of the ’70s and ’80s. Rodgers is the only surviving core member, and has undergone something of a career resurgence, thanks to an excellent autobiography and his recent work with Adam Lambert and Daft Punk. Three of the most influential instrumentalists of the past 35 years.

Deep Purple: “Smoke On The Water” contains one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in history. They’re an iconic British hard rock band, although I’d be hard-pressed to name a song of theirs other than “Smoke On The Water.”

Peter Gabriel: Already in the HOF as a member of Genesis, Gabriel’s solo work has been as amorphous as his image, encompassing everything from classical to funk. His first handful of solo albums are absolute classics. Along with Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran and a few others, he is one of the most iconic video artists ever.

Hall & Oates: Pop/soul duo that is finally getting some long-deserved respect. Daryl Hall is one of the greatest soul vocalists of all-time, and for a solid decade, H2O was a veritable hit machine.

KISS: Any white male that grew up in the ’70s has a gigantic boner for KISS (and a few dudes of other ethnicities do, as well.) Highly theatrical hard rock band that has proven quite durable over the years. Spark a humongous outcry each year they are not inducted. Jann Wenner might be keeping them out just because of the attention the HOF gets every time KISS gets skipped over. Subject of one of the all-time best Family Guy episodes. Gene Simmons is easily in the Top Ten on my Musicians I’d Like To Push Off A Cliff list.

LL Cool J: Hip-hop’s first multi-platinum solo star, the first artist to enjoy pop icon cred and street cred simultaneously, and rap music’s first sex symbol. Sure, he’s now a TV star and he’s made a solid decade’s worth of poop records, but for every LL, there’s 10 rock “icons” who do the same and sell out arenas. Why should we single him out? One of two people on this list I’ve actually looked in the eye (Peter Criss is the other.)

N.W.A.: Invented “gangsta rap.” OK, Ice-T invented “gangsta rap.” N.W.A. not only pioneered it, but they commercialized it. After splitting up at the height of their success, at least two members (Ice Cube and Dr. Dre) went on to bigger success as solo artists. Musically speaking, they’re pretty shaky. But in terms of iconography, they’re top five on this list.

Nirvana: A) Signaled a paradigm shift in the music industry when their Nevermind hit #1 on the album charts at the end of 1991. B) Lead singer/songwriter Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994, guaranteeing that he would be looked at as an untarnished icon (as opposed to, say, Billy Corgan or Scott Weiland. Nirvana never had the chance to start making shitty records.)

The Meters: New Orleans funk giants. Includes a handful of Neville Brothers (but not Aaron.)

Linda Ronstadt: Lite-rock song stylist-turned musical chameleon. Scored hits with pop, light country, songs conducted by Nelson Riddle and even Mexican ranchera music. Parkinson’s has robbed her of her singing voice. Staunch left-winger, and contender for Hottest Chick In The Game during the ’70s.

The Replacements: I have had “Alex Chilton” on pretty much continuous repeat for the past several days. Man, I would’ve loved to have seen these guys live in their heyday. Incredibly messy, but incredibly tuneful Minneapolis rock band led by Paul Westerberg.

Cat Stevens: Sensitive singer-songwriter who brought us “Peace Train,” “Wild World,” “Father And Son,” and the unexpectedly funky “Was Dog A Doughnut?” Converted to Islam in the late Seventies, has turned up on a terrorist watch list or two. Returned to recording earlier this century with a few well-received albums.

Link Wray: According to Wikipedia, he “invented the power chord.” That’s somethin’.

Yes: With more current/former members than Parliament/Funkadelic, these prog-rock giants were huge throughout the Seventies into the early Nineties. Were primarily known as an album-oriented band before scoring an out-of-left-field #1 with the danceable “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.”

The Zombies: British band that scored a handful of hits (most notably “Time Of The Season” and “She’s Not There” in the Sixties.

Who’ll get in? Good question. Nirvana’s as much of a no-brainer as we’re gonna get from here on in, and Linda Ronstadt’s recent acknowledgement of her health troubles might open the door for induction, as well. From there, things get a little sketchy. This could be KISS’s year, but I wasn’t entirely kidding about Wenner now barring their induction out of spite. Chic’s chances are more solid than ever thanks to Rodgers’ recent ubiquity (and the fact that he recently beat cancer.)

The Meters might get in by virtue of the fact that similar “B+” level soul acts (War, Bobby Womack) are in, as could Yes, now that the HOF has officially opened its doors to prog rock. Less likely: either LL (whose last decade of output has hurt his chances) or NWA (Cube and Dre might get in as solo artists first.) Link Wray and Paul Butterfield might be a bit too on the obscure side, so…

It’s essentially anyone’s guess. I guess we’ll see in a couple of months?

Who should get in? Who keeps getting ignored? Leave us a comment!

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