Induction into rock hall to be simulcast tonight

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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KISS reunites at a news conference in New York, April 16, 1996 to announce a tour of original band members. From left to right are: Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley. The band started in 1974. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Tonight, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will add nine names to its hallowed halls.

Your 2014 inductees/inductors in the performer category are Peter Gabriel (Coldplay’s Chris Martin), Daryl Hall & John Oates (the Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson), Cat Stevens (to be determined), Kiss (Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello), Nirvana (REM’s Michel Stipe) and Linda Ronstadt (Glenn Frey).

Inductees in other categories are the E Street Band receiving the Award for Musical Excellence (aka the sideman award), Rolling Stones manager/producer/label executive extraordinaire Andrew Loog Oldham and Beatles manager the late Brian Epstein, who — in a bit of classic rock synergy — are both receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement.

It’s a solid list of inductees. I see no shockers or outrage-inducing artists. The fact that Nirvana is being welcomed in its first year of eligibility while Kiss — eligible since 1999, nominated in 2010 and an influence on bands that influenced Nirvana, had to wait 15 years — is indeed a joke and often the opening salvo in nearly every detractor’s anti-rock hall argument.

Additionally, it seems in the past several years that the ceremonies and the hoopla surrounding them and the inductees are becoming increasingly contentious and more artists seem to feel less honored.

Last month, the 70-year-old Oldham announced during a talk at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership that he was not coming to accept his award, saying in part, “I think those people basically hijacked the name ‘rock ’n’ roll.’

“I won’t be there. I’ll tell you why. … It’s a television show. Twenty years ago it was an incredible party in the Waldorf-Astoria where everybody could behave exactly as they could 20 years ago. And then it became a business. I think it’s healthier to stay home,” Oldham concluded.

Last Friday, Oldham tweeted: “Like Brian Epstein I was not consulted as regards this matter & like dear Brian I will not be going.” Brian Epstein died in 1967.

Ouch!

The Sex Pistols backed out of the 2006 ceremony entirely and in the band’s place John “Johnny Rotten/King Herod” Lydon offered a typically snide and withering letter questioning the entire enterprise. Then in 2012, Axl Rose refused to show up for the Guns N’ Roses induction arguing that his current version of GNR was just as important and deserving as the group of guys officially being inducted, which recorded the band’s classic albums.

Hmmm, quick poll, which album would you prefer to have with you when stranded on a desert island, Appetite for Destruction or Chinese Democracy?

Yeah, me, too. I’d be doing my Axl-snake dance to Mr. Brownstone not Shackler’s Revenge.

For the 2014 ceremony, we’ll have the Kiss Kerfuffle. The rock hall requested that the original four don the makeup and play nice for a few songs. But Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons contend that longtime current members Tommy Thayer (who re-taught Frehley his solos for the 2002 reunion tour) and Eric Singer should be inducted.

Oh, and they don’t like the Rock Hall Foundation, have no interest in reuniting with former bandmates/inductees Peter Criss and Frehley (“They don’t deserve to wear the makeup,” Simmons said recently) and haven’t been shy about their opinions.

“All the credible bands can kiss my [expletive], with all due respect,” Simmons told Rolling Stone, whose founder Jann Wenner is one of the Rock Hall Foundation’s driving forces. “The original forefathers who are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame … couldn’t spell the word ‘credibility’ and never thought about it. … The most important thing is that it’s validation for fans who were picked on for liking Kiss as opposed to, I don’t know, Air Supply.”

Stanley, appearing on CBS This Morning on Monday to promote his memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed, broke down the band’s stance even simpler.

“This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stuff is fluff, it’s a farce. It’s like an Addams Family Bar Mitzvah. … That’s not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is walking the streets,” Stanley said.

Stanley then echoed fans of Kiss, Rush, Moody Blues and other bands that clearly have been ignored with malice of forethought by the voting body.

“We are the bitter pill they had to swallow, because they don’t like us and the only reason they are inducting us is because they began to look foolish at some point by not having us in,” Stanley said.

Yeah, that point was around 2000.

Anyway, that all adds up to a ceremony in which Kiss will be inducted with no Kiss songs being performed, but at least the Simmons/Stanley acceptance speeches should be a tension-raising hoot.

The ceremony will be in New York at Barclay’s Center (the 2015 ceremony will be in Cleveland) and the broadcast of the evening will appear on HBO at 9 p.m. May 31.

There will be performances by all of the inductees save Ronstadt and Kiss. Ronstadt, who has Parkinson’s disease, will not attend, but will have several peers and a couple of acolytes pay tribute to her; Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow.

The lineup that will perform for/as Nirvana is being held a tightly guarded secret, though bassist Krist Novocelic seemingly let some of the grungy cat out of the flannel bag when he recently tweeted that he’s been practicing.

But if you simply can’t wait until the official broadcast, head on up to the rock hall at 7 tonight for the simulcast.

I’ve been to a few of those over the years and in my experience it’s the fans that make the evening fun. Since Kiss is finally being inducted, I’ll assume the members of the Kiss Army will be out in force with attitudes as bad as Stanley and Simmons, as they mix, mingle and down Yuenglings (the evening’s official sponsor) alongside Hall & Oates lovers, folks still hanging out on Cat Steven’s Peace Train and Gen-Xers reliving their Nirvana-fueled, navel-gazing salad days.

It should be an interesting night.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.


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