Posts Tagged ‘New York Dolls’

This is a short post after a two-month absence from the blog. Not to keep making excuses, but I’m watching a child full time while attempting to buy a house in the most lopsided seller’s market in a generation. I’ve been keeping close tabs on all the #RockHall2021 developments, however, between excellent podcast work from the Watchers and the Who Cares folk, Nick’s ongoing Rock Hall Reconsidered Project, and all the other manifold newsbites.

I’ll cut to the chase: here’s who I think, after a few months of watching reactions to this fascinating and precedent-shattering ballot, will get in.

Tina Turner: She is the biggest name with the biggest legacy on the ballot. While double-inductees sometimes face questions of “does so-and-so need to be in there twice?” with Tina it’s justified. Her 80s comeback was a triumph of human persistence and artistic rebirth. Yet, her near-certainty creates a problem: Turner is pretty much retired and I will be gobsmacked if she comes to Cleveland in a pandemic to take part. She may be involved, but it’s fair to say a performance–at least by the grand dame herself–is probably out of the question.

Carole King: I’m a little concerned that, among those who released their ballot choices, King isn’t always one of the five check-marks. Yet these disclosures have largely come from critics–and critics known for their edginess or too-cool-for-school attitude. I’m confident that the musicians who comprise this ballot will make a beeline for King–who is also maybe my biggest personal snub at this point. And King will show up.

Jay-Z: Honestly, this is less of a sure thing than I thought it was two months ago. L.L. Cool J is a serious contender on any ballot he appears on, and may draw votes away from Jay-Z, especially if voters can countenance one rap/hip-hop vote but not two. It’s also true that Jay-Z’s reaction to his nomination hasn’t been the most enthusiastic, and he’s giving off very Howard Stern “do I have to fly to Cleveland for this?” energy. Even still, he’s arguably the most successful rapper of all time, and if you are a millennial, 4 or 5 of his songs are an indelible part of your generational experience.

The Go-Gos: With a first-rate documentary making a case for their significance, the timing is right for The Go-Gos. New wave acts have done well in the Rock Hall lately, and there’s no denying their historicity. Eddie Trunk notwithstanding, if you want to vote for artists who wrote their own stuff and played their own instruments, The Go-Gos clear that hurdle.

Foo Fighters: A group whose nomination exists largely to raise Mary’s blood pressure, The Foo Fighters are still more likely than not to get inducted, I think. If Green Day can get in on their first try seven years ago, Foo Fighters should be able to do so as well. And like Green Day (and unlike Radiohead), the Foo Fighters show up to stuff. Complain all you like on their merits–I may or may not argue with you–but they fit the profile of first-year-eligible inductees.

That’s five. But with only three of them likely to be there, I doubt very much Greg Harris will stop there.

If there’s six, sign me up for Devo. They’re probably my least favorite artist on the ballot, and given all the other ersatz artists operating at the same time, I’m not quite getting the urgency. But in spite of my feelings, they were bold, had a unique visual aesthetic, and can thread the needle between “countercultural innovator” and “Classic rock”. Plus, their own Ohio roots gives HBO the potential for some terrific “going home” moments.

If there’s seven, I’m going to buck orthodoxy and suggest that New York Dolls have a real chance. Of the ballots released so far, NYD are showing up on a striking number, and their profile isn’t all that different from their contemporaries Roxy Music and T. Rex. In fact, New York Dolls have the added benefit of being, obviously, New Yorkers and having plenty of allies on the voting committee. They are also the queerest artist here, given their gender-bending aesthetic, which may also be an unexpected fount of support.

So those are my picks. Again, it’s Jay-Z, Carole King, Tina Turner, The Go-Gos, and the Foo Fighters, adding Devo if six and New York Dolls if seven. I don’t think LL Cool J can make it with another rapper on the ballot if he hasn’t managed it as the only rapper. Kate Bush has my vote, but may be too niche and English. Todd Rundgren has fallen flat on less competitive ballots than this one. If Judas Priest–a better and more significant band–couldn’t swing it, Iron Maiden shouldn’t logically fare much better. Fela Kuti is important, but a question mark to many voters. Dionne Warwick is lovely, but may be a bit too cocktail-hour, even for her contemporaries. Mary J. Blige has my vote on the fan ballot, and is our long awaited female hip-hop nominee, but doesn’t have a prayer unfortunately. With so many brassy female artists on this list, Chaka Khan will probably get drowned out, and Rage Against the Machine just doesn’t seem to have the momentum this year.

We will see if I’m right, though; I’m not 100% sure of my choices– if I had to pick one artist I’d be wrong about, it’d be Rundgren, I think. Well, the fan vote closes in a few days, and hopefully we’ll have our inductees a week or two after. Rock Hall, if you are listening, I reiterate my ancestral plea: Carole Kaye for Musical Excellence. Big Mama Thornton for Influence.

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Ah, my favorite time of the year. For us growing legions who follow the Rock Hall (there are now dozens of us! Dozens!), we wait in anticipation to see which artists will get nominated. And then, about ten weeks later, we’ll know who will get inducted…and then, we watch the ceremony unfold, with its manifold dramas, happy reunions, tributes, and performances. With now two Rock Hall podcasts operating, a growing blogging presence from Jason Voight and Nick Bambach, and many of the old crew of bloggers still doing their thing, I look forward to seeing who will make everyone’s list of predictions.

Here’s mine. Last year, we had 7 acts– each either very deserving or very well-known- get in. Genres that hadn’t had much success lately like 80s alternative (The Cure), and 80s & 90s R&B (Janet) and art rock (Roxy Music) broke on through to the other side. A good part of my thinking can be reduced to either “who is next in line?” or “who might the people who nominated those acts turn to next?”

I also realize I’m jumping the gun and posting a little early. There’s a good reason for this. While visiting family in Maine, my 7-months-pregnant wife began to complain of blurred vision and uncomfortable swelling. We checked into a hospital where she was diagnosed with severe pre-eclempsia that required an immediate emergency c-section. And so, little Alex Jr. was born at only 32 weeks. Mrs. Voltaire has been discharged and is doing fine, but it will take tiny Alex a while to get his little lungs developed in the NICU. He’ll make it, but my life is now slow, long, repetitive days in a hospital. I needed some distraction, and as often happens, I turned to the Rock Hall community as one venue of solace among many.

  • Mötley Crüe: Currently in the lead at the Rock Hall’s kiosks where you can vote for who you want to see in the Hall of Fame. Def Leppard and Stevie Nicks took this route to nomination and induction, so I’ll go along with it until it isn’t predictive. This band has also enjoyed a year of big publicity, with The Dirt hitting Netflix. Yet their infamy is a liability (as infamy usually is). Mötley Crüe’s rap sheet, which includes battering women, foggy recollections of sexual assault, and racism directed at Sylvia Rhone will hurt them. Let the record show that for a number of reasons, I do not support their nomination. If Mötley Crüe’s talent for playing music was as great as their talent for almost killing themselves and others, then they would have been inducted a decade ago.
  • Cher: The highest-ranked woman on the kiosks. Cher also had a good past 18 months, culminating in a Mama Mia sequel. Her long career continues to roll on, as an outspoken icon and sartorially daring performer on her eighth round of farewell touring. I can think of a great many women who should be inducted before Cher in terms of merit, talent, and influence, but I’m fine with the prospect of her getting in.
  • Depeche Mode: The Cure busted down the doors of bleak 80s alternative big time last year. With two relatively recent nominations under their belt, Depeche Mode seems likely to be next in line– especially if the Hall understandably doesn’t want to deal with Morrissey’s bullshit. If the ballot isn’t overstuffed with 70s classic rockers, expect them to have an excellent chance of making it this year.
  • Kraftwerk: Just a little German band that basically all subsequent electronic music (including Depeche Mode!) is heavily indebted to. They have been nominated five times.
  • Rufus and Chaka Khan: If my guess is right, this ballot may be light on funkiness, making it likely that Chaka will get nominated with her old band. With Rufus or without, this is now the free space at the center of the bingo board.
  • New York Dolls: Roxy Music is in! And rightly so. Maybe T-Rex, the other big 70s band that was a bigger deal in Britain than in the US might be next. But maybe, if we’re looking at glam androgyny, a punk direction is called for. And New York Dolls were nominated– but that was way back for the class of 2001, when the nominating committee had a markedly different lineup.
  • The B-52s: Maybe there’s room for another avant-garde group on the ballot. Nick Bambach has done some great work on The B-52s’ prospects. They pioneered a daring, retro-future style and made rock and roll campy and fun again, like the 50s B-movies they sent up. With high-profile articles in New York Times and Rolling Stone in recent months, it’s easy to see enough people in the room agreeing to give the B-52s a turn. With two movies about gay rock musicians breaking box office records this year, The B-52s–four out of five of whom identified as LGBT–would also be timely.
  • Eurythmics: The Rock Hall loves soulful vocals, and recent changes in the nominating committee reflect a friendliness toward MTV, VH1 and music videos. Can you pick a more 80s moment than Annie Lennox in a suit, with a pointer and a globe? They were nominated two years ago, and I don’t think it was a one-and-done affair.
  • The Doobie Brothers: These guys have seen so many of their contemporaries get in, it’s almost embarrassing. They were and are major classic rock artists. I understand the Nom Com moving a step away from that after the Moody Blues/Dire Straits/Cars year, but the Doobies are one of the last bands from that genre that really does deserve to get in. They still tour, had plenty of hits in two distinct eras, and were one of the few racially integrated groups to have achieved that level of success. It’s also pretty easy to get an HBO-friendly reunion with Michael McDonald. Let’s see if signing with Irving Azoff paid dividends.
  • Tommy James & the Shondells: Well, The Zombies finally got in! But the Nom Com is still filled with old guys reliving their sixties’ youth. According to Future Rock Legends, Tommy James has been previously considered, and it’s not hard to see Little Stevie, Paul Shaffer, and some of the others make a case for this band. A couple years ago, Miami Steve inducted James into the New Jersey Music Hall of Fame, for those of you keeping notes.
  • Notorious B.I.G.: Look, I think LL Cool J is now one of the five most inexplicable snubs, but the voters aren’t having him. To avoid making the hip-hop backlog worse than it already is, Cool J may be iced in favor of first-year-eligible Biggie. I don’t especially like Biggie and I struggle to see why he was such an icon, but I doubt the Rolling Stone Industrial Complex sees it that way.
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Who Cares About the Rock Hall did a bang-up job on this Native Tongues outfit and the continued relevance they have today. Possibly the most critically acclaimed hip-hop group ever, they could very well sneak on to the nominating list. Two rap acts have shared a ballot before, after all. With Janet Jackson in, Questlove gets to advocate for someone else, and his Mo Meta Blues is so generous in its praise of ATCQ, I have to think they are next in line.
  • Big Mama Thornton: It went under the radar, but Holly George-Warren recently gave a presentation on this seminal blueswoman. She did “Hound Dog” before Elvis. She was with Johnny Ace when he died. She played the drums and harmonica! Warren wants to make “make a compelling case for Thornton’s place in the blues and R&B pantheon.” This might help her efforts. If Big Mama shows up, don’t be surprised if this culminates in an early-influence induction, a la Sister Rosetta.
  • Weezer: In exceptional years, two FYE (that’s First Year Eligible) acts might show up. Think Green Day/Nine Inch Nails. Think Radiohead/Rage. Think Pearl Jam/2pac. Biggie/Weezer fits nicely into this pattern. With Weezer you have a band that had pretty impressive longevity, several indispensable songs anybody who was young in the 90s remembers, a couple iconic albums, and a deep influence on how indie developed. Oasis is eligible too, of course, but the Gallaghers rival only The Smiths as a nightmare reunion to manage. Remember, bassist Scott Shriner was involved in the 2018 ceremony, deputizing for Benjamin Orr during The Cars’ set.
  • Richard Thompson: What list would be complete without a left-field choice? As previous years have shown, a long-shot act like John Prine or Los Lobos can appear without much warning. Rolling Stone has been touting Shoot out the Lights, recorded with his then-wife Linda as one of the iconic albums of the 80s whenever they gin up a “Greatest Albums” list to boost their sales. His stunning lyricism, deep mystical philosophy, his shimmering creativity, and his singular guitar work could very well commend him to the Rock Hall powers.

So, if I had to guess, I’d say Motley Crue, Cher, Doobies, Biggie, and Depeche Mode would get in, adding B-52s if six, and Eurythmics if seven. My five votes on the fan ballot would go to Kraftwerk, Eurythmics, Big Mama Thornton, A Tribe Called Quest, and The B-52s.

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Here is the first installment of my “100 Greatest Rock Hall Prospects” list, starting out at #100, and moving on to #1 in the coming weeks.  (Chicago, fortunately, lost their spot at #1 by virtue of being inducted.)  Hopefully, I’ll be able to imbed a Spotify playlist on this blog shortly, but please bear with me; I haven’t quite figured that trick out yet.  This particular batch has some eclectic, but somewhat borderline, cases.  Interestingly, five of these artists have already been nominated, but haven’t made it in yet.  Let me know your thoughts as we journey through the epochs of rock and roll.  Remember- this is just one guy’s opinion, so I hope you won’t take umbrage if your favorites aren’t on the list or are ranked too low for your liking.

100.  fela-kutiFela Kuti:  For all we complain about certain “snubs” from the Rock Hall, there are some genres, and indeed, some geographical regions that are left out in the cold entirely.  No artist who spent their career working from Africa, to give one less obvious example, has been inducted.  If the Hall ever looks in that direction, they could do no better than Fela Kuti.  Like Bob Marley before him, Kuti worked outside the Anglo-American axis, and pioneered a bold new synthesis while standing up to political oppression.  And also like Marley, he is regarded as much as a prophet as a musician.  Kuti’s contribution is Afrobeat, a dynamic synthesis of funk and traditional Nigerian rhythms, and a key progenitor to world music.  Redbull Music Guide calls him “A complex man who was equal parts shaman, showman, and trickster,” a crafty thorn in the side of the violent regimes that Nigerians endured during his lifetime.  If it weren’t for the horrific migrations out of Africa in the 1600s and 1700s, rock and roll could have never happened, so it is incumbent on us to recognize a figure who, more than anyone else, brought it all back home.  If this seems like a far-fetched choice, remember that Kuti has plenty of admirers in high places, ranging from Jay-Z to his onetime collaborator, Ginger Baker.

99.  Husker Du:  Husker-DuI was a bit dismissive about Husker Du in my introduction to this project, but they still deserve serious consideration for a Rock Hall induction.  They helped create alt-rock and set the table for Green Day and other latter-day acts that dominated radio when I was a teenager, except they did it years before it was cool.  Ultimately, they were a musician’s band, more famous for influence than for record sales.  Patrick Smith said it best: “To say that Hüsker Dü never cultivated any sort of image, in the usual manner of rock bands, is putting it mildly. These guys just didn’t look or carry themselves like musicians. And they didn’t care.”  Their records rarely had a picture of the band, but they were workmanlike, touring relentlessly to break out of the underground scene they were beholden to.  Husker Du bridged the gap between thrash and alternative, recording an essential album, Zen Arcade, with little time and a meager budget.  Nirvana, Pixies, the Foo Fighters and countless other acts cite them as an important influence.

98.  D.C. Talk: d.c. talkOne important genre that the Rock Hall has heretofore neglected (and will probably neglect for a very long time) is Christian Contemporary.  This is probably because its artists and its audience exist in a somewhat insular subculture in America far removed from anybody on the Nominating Committee.  But if your daddy listened to James Dobson on the radio and your mama read Amish romance novels, chances are, D.C. Talk was a part of your life in the 1990s.  D.C. Talk remains the most historically important Christian contemporary artist for the Rock Hall’s consideration, at least until Jars of Clay become eligible in 2020.  They started out recording plenty of spiritually uplifiting secular songs like “Lean On Me” and “Jesus Is Just Alright” before 1995’s Jesus Freak came out like a bolt out of the blue.  A lot of music that white evangelicals were listening to…well…let’s just say it was shoddily recorded and noticeably derivative.  There were lots of earnest singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars and beards, or Styx-wannabes like Petra.  D.C. Talk broke away from the evangelical tendency toward second-rate music, playing conscientious hip-hop-infused rock that didn’t sound like a pale imitation of existing artists.  Wisely, they tapped into post-punk and alternative’s need for personal authenticity and its identification with society’s misfits and losers, balancing the introspective with a finely-developed social consciousness.  Virtually every edgy Christian songwriter of a generation began his or her education with D.C. Talk.

97.  NyDolls3 New York Dolls: This pick goes against everything I stand for in terms of my personal taste, but it is tough to deny their longstanding influence.  The New York Dolls were gender-bending to a striking, and apparently persuasive, degree (just this semester, one of my students foolishly included them in a diorama on “women in rock.”)  There was this sorta Jagger-knock-off feel to their sound and their sneering and pouting temperament, but they were an important piece of what became punk music.  Even if they got there by way of glam.  I love that their first gig was in a homeless shelter; it’s the perfect encapsulation of the New York underground scene that embraced all kinds of people who were rejected elsewhere.  They challenged convention (particularly gender convention) with their wardrobe choices and became heroes to Patti Smith, The Ramones, and other top-shelf acts that became massively big later on.  (Then again, they also influenced KISS.  This isn’t something to be proud of; it’s more like remembering Lee Harvey Oswald for influencing Mark David Chapman.)  At a time when popular music was getting more complex and ethereal, New York Dolls not only brought it back down to earth, but into the gutter.  They lived fast, some of them died hard, and they enjoyed only a short career before disbanding, but everyone who was there at the time vouches for their importance.  The band was nominated once in 2001, but it may be a long time before they see the inside of the Rock Hall.  If it took the Sex Pistols five tries and the Stooges eight tries, they may have quite a wait ahead of them.

96. Harold Melvin Blue NotesTeddy Pendergrass/Harold Melvin and the Blue NotesEvery genre in the rock and roll family tree moves the listener in a different way.  The deep soul branch touches the most plaintive notes of our conscious selves, and speaks to our deepest hurts and our most aching longings.  I can think of no outfit that did this quite so well as Pendergrass- either with or without Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.  Their most important (and most widely covered) hit, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” is a track of profound emotional depth, and that’s just one of a small armada of hits that tore up the R&B charts through the 70s.  Pendergrass kept this going in his solo career, which was cut short by a freak accident that paralyzed him and shortened his life (eerie parallels to Curtis Mayfield, no?)  Actually, like Mayfield, Pendergrass and the Blue Notes also threaded a careful line between love songs and socially conscious numbers in tune with their times (give a listen to “Wake Up Everybody” for a fine essay in this genre.)  While figures like Barry White had a more conspicuous calling card in his spoken-word seduction, Pendergrass had chops that weren’t overshadowed by deceptive production.  Philadelphia artists have a habit of being ignored by the Rock Hall, as Daryl Hall pointed out at his own induction, and the Blue Notes would be a worthy addition given the absence of Philly soul from the Cleveland halls.  Classic rockers will have a fit, but I’d rather have a first rate soul outfit than a group of second-rate rockers.

95.  Procol HarumProcol Harum: For a few years, it seemed like Cleveland was letting every British invasion act it could remember into its halls.  When Procol Harum was nominated for the Class of 2013, it sure looked like a front-runner on a ballot filled with dicey blues and rap prospects.  Yet, they failed to get the votes, and I wonder why.  Inductees Dave Clark Five and The Hollies certainly had more hits, I’ll grant you that, but Procol Harum had significantly more vision behind it, and was a better fit for the Hall’s own agenda.  With a full-time lyricist at their disposal, they challenged rock and roll’s artistic boundaries, using greater classical influences, and a broader array of instruments- with the organ at the front of the mix- to create baroque pop.  The result of this technique was the glorious “Whiter Shade of Pale,” a track that serves as the exemplar of ambitious (if somewhat obtuse) psychedelia.  But don’t stop there, because “The Devil Came From Kansas,” “Conquistador,” and “A Salty Dog” were all ambitious and masterfully composed, rich gems waiting for those who are willing to delve further into their catalog.  All these factors make them important antecedents to progressive rock sensibilities.  Today, every artist records with a full orchestra as a fun lark.  But Procol Harum was perhaps the first band to do so with a 1972 album with the Edmonton Symphonic Orchestra, exploring how classical and rock and roll might be genres in collaboration rather than competition.  Procol Harum is still on tour today with its frontman Gary Brooker, and despite recurring lawsuits over “Whiter,” the band would be able to perform, and even skip the light fandango, if called upon.

94.  chuck willisChuck Willis: The Rock Hall has, traditionally, been very mindful of 50s R&B legends- people who didn’t have tons of hits that are played on Oldies radio today, but were indispensable to the foundations of rock and roll.  But a few of them never quite made it past the hurdles of induction.  Joe Tex is one of them.  Esther Phillips is another.  But arguably the turban-wearing Chuck Willis is the most influential of the figures in this category.  He was nominated on each of the Hall’s first five ballots, and once again in 2011, without success.  As the voting body becomes younger and perhaps less historically astute, Willis’s window is probably gone unless he gets a backdoor “early influence” nod.  It’s a shame, because he deserves induction without any asterisks.  He wrote his own material in a genre where that rarely happened, popularized “C. C. Rider” and The Stroll, one of Rock’s first dance crazes, and toggled easily between sincere ballads and riveting rockers.  His blend of crooning and wailing established the template for every number of R&B vocalists to come.  Unfortunately, he was felled by peritonitis in his prime, and died at the age of 30, one of rock and roll’s first big casualties, even predeceasing Buddy, Richie, and the Bopper.

93.  mary wellsMary Wells: Has the Rock Hall milked Motown dry?  It seems like every significant Motown artist is enshrined in the Hall, although the Nom Com seems on the lookout for more of them.  The Marvelettes have been nominated a couple times, most recently for the Class of 2015, but I think a stronger case can be made for Mary Wells if you’re going to close the book on Hitsville, USA.  Go back and listen to her old 45s, and you’ll hear a remarkable self-possession and personality shine through.  Sultry but sweet, emotive but confident, she should have had a much bigger career than she enjoyed.  It must have been tough as a female artist in the 60s, with the virgin/whore dichotomy at full bore.  Your output had to be demure enough to be respectable but sensuous enough to be interesting.  There aren’t many songs that are simultaneously both seductive and innocent as her vocal work on the coda of “My Guy.”  Unfortunately, she violated Rock and Roll Rule #3: Don’t Cross Berry Gordy.  (Rule #1 is “Don’t bite the head off a bat” and Rule #2 is “don’t marry your 13-year-old cousin.”)  Rumors persist that Gordy sabotaged her career after she left Motown, irritated by The Supremes getting more attention, better promotion, and more quality material.  But any way you slice it, the hits dried up prematurely for one of soul’s most talented vocalists.   

92.  megadethMegadeth: there are probably metal bands that deserve to be in before Megadeth, but they are certainly in the queue.  Founded by Metallica castaway Dave Muscatine, Megadeth presided over the creation of thrash-metal: angry, focused, intentional, and intense.  The band has danced with the devil for decades, with lyrics that explore death and destruction, but never wholly endorsing a violent worldview.  In terms of zeitgeist, it’s remarkable how well Megadeth directed their ire at the bloodlust of the 1980s, with a revived Cold War and a lot of unnecessary, phallus-waggling American incursions into Latin America and the Caribbean.  Nobody, as it turns out, was buying peace.  Although Muscatine has expressed interest in induction, it’s probably a long way off.  The Nom Com just isn’t interested in thrash metal, and their rivals, Metallica, belong to the Rock Hall’s “in-club” and these guys most definitely do not.

91.  bon joviBon Jovi: If you really stop and think about it, one of Cleveland’s more insidious biases is against artists that women tend to like more than men- perhaps a reflection of the male super-duper-majority on the Nom Com.  How many artists in the Hall of Fame today have a decisively female fan base?  Bobby Darin?  Ricky Nelson?  Neil Diamond?  I can’t think of too many more.  Teen idols tend to get passed over as long on image and short on chops.  Every once in a while, an exception like Peter Frampton- a surprisingly good guitarist- challenges that stereotype, but otherwise, good luck waiting for Bobby Vinton, Frankie Avalon, Lief Garrett, and Neil Sedaka to come to Cleveland.  But in the mid-to-late 1980s, Bon Jovi were not only teen idols, but the most well-remembered emblems of hair bands.  With long mullets, screechy guitar solos, and ear-worm hooks, bands like Bon Jovi tore up the charts in the mid-to-late 80s.  They wracked up a number of big hits made for stadium sing-alongs and Jon holding out the microphone to the audience (every song they’ve done seems to have a “wuhhh-oh” or an “aaah-ah” in the chorus crafted for this kind of moment.)  It was listener friendly, but almost factory-designed to vex the serious listener or critic, ever searching for technique and nuance.  But technique and nuance were never part of Bon Jovi’s appeal.  I had just started listening to Top 40 radio when “Always” was out, inaugurating Bon Jovi 2.0, and several years later, they did it again with “It’s My Life” and later remade themselves into John Mellencamp-style heartland rockers in the new millennium.  In a crazy way, a Bon Jovi comeback seemed more far-fetched and anachronistic than its contemporary Santana and Cher comebacks, partly because it was so tough to disassociate them from the mullet-infested, Dollar Store Springsteen side of the 80s.  After all, didn’t Nirvana exist to save us from bands like Bon Jovi?  Nevertheless, as a cultural artifact, as hitmakers of astonishing resilience, and as contributors to the rock and roll milieu, Bon Jovi deserves a place in the Hall.  “Tommy used to work on the docks” is one of the great opening lines in all of rock history.   Bon Jovi has been nominated once before- for the Class of 2011- but didn’t get in.  With the recent exception of Janet Jackson, that’s probably the most shocking non-induction in the last decade of Rock Hall history.  I’d expect them to get a second chance sooner rather than later- especially under the aggressive new management of Irving Azoff.

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