The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class has been announced, and they include 6 performers and one award for musical excellence. The inductees are (in alphabetical order):
Electric Light Orchestra
Nile Rodgers – Award for Musical Excellence
For those of you who don’t know how this process works, here are the details. An artist or band is eligible 25 years after the release of their first recording. This year, the inductees were chosen by an online fan vote combined with more than 900 voters. The top five artists from the fan vote were compared to the 900+ voters to determine the winners. For 2017, four of the fan vote winners were selected, being ELO, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Yes.
The award ceremony will be held in Brooklyn, New York on 7 April 2017 at the Barclays Center. The special exhibition at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, will open on 30 March.
Here’s a bit on the winners:
Baez began as essentially a folk artist in the late 1950’s, but used her voice and activist nature to champion the causes dear to her heart, such as civil rights, anti-war, human rights, anti-discrimination, and helping the poor. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and made “We Shall Overcome” a standard at civil rights rallies and marches. Notable recordings include “We Shall Overcome”, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Forever Young”, and “Diamonds And Rust”.
Electric Light Orchestra
Members – Bev Bevan, Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, and Roy Wood
Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1970. Combining classical elements, rock and roll, and a strong Beatles influence, ELO turned out such classic tunes as “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”, “Evil Woman”, “Strange Magic”, “Livin’ Thing”, “Telephone Line”, “Mr. Blue Sky”, “Turn To Stone”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, and “Don’t Bring Me Down”.
Members – Jonathan Cain, Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Perry, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Steve Smith, and Ross Valory
Formed in San Francisco in 1973, Journey pushed the boundaries from a psychedelic and jazz fusion origin to a staple of the concert rock scene of the 1980’s. Their fortunes took an amazing turn in 1977 with the addition of Steve Perry, one of the best singers in rock and roll history. Their hit “Don’t Stop Believin” has transcended rock and roll and become a cultural icon. Hits include “Of A Lifetime”, “I’m Gonna Leave You”, “Lights”, “Wheel In The Sky”, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Any Way You Want It”, “Walks Like A Lady”, “Don’t Stop Believin”, “Stone In Love”, “Who’s Crying Now”, “Open Arms”, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, “Send Her My Love”, “Faithfully”, “Only The Young”, “Girl Can’t Help It”, “I’ll Be Alright Without You”, and “When You Love A Woman”.
Members – Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, Stone Gossard, Dave Krusen, Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder
Founded in 1990 in Seattle, Washington, Pearl Jam cut their teeth in the creatively rich underground of Seattle, blending heavy metal, punk, and classic rock into one of the great bands of the ‘90s alternative rock scene. But they did more than turn out massive hits and fill stadiums, they changed the way fans interacted with the band and their music. Starting in 2000, Pearl Jam began making all their shows available via high-quality releases, unleashing a business model that is accepted by all in the music industry today. Hits include “Even Flow”, “Alive”, “Jeremy”, “Animal”, “Daughter”, “Better Man”, “Hail, Hail”, “Off He Goes”, “Given To Fly”, and “Last Kiss”.
Nile Rodgers first hit it big with Chic in 1977 with hits like “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, which helped define and drive forward dance floor music of the late 1970’s. Turning to producing, he started with Sister Sledge’s classic “We Are Family”, then proceeded to produce defining albums for artists as diverse as the B-52’s, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Duran Duran, INXS, Madonna, Diana Ross, and The Vaughn Brothers. Truly a man who could do it all, Rodgers had a major influence on dance music and electronic music that is still felt today.
Despite a short 5-year recording career, Tupac Shakur’s impact on music and culture are still being felt today. Tupac’s lyrics are known for their depth of thought and reason, and have sparked conversations on such serious topics as race relations, activism, love, street violence, feminism, police harassment, and the role of young black men in American society. On top of his recording career, Tupac also made a name for himself as an actor, with impactful roles in films such as Poetic Justice, and Above The Rim. Tupac was murdered in 1996 at the young age of 25, a life cut short way too early. Hits include “I Get Around”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Dear Mama”, “ California Love”, and “Changes”.
Members – Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Alan White, and Tony Kaye
Yes is the greatest progressive rock band in history, having pushed the boundaries of rock from music to cinematic music-scapes. They did so with a lineup of musicians that were exceptional, yet often underrated for their musical abilities. Yes combined psychedelic rock with hard rock, classical music, and pretty much everything in between to form a complex musical experience that is difficult to describe – you have to listen to it to fully appreciate it. Along the way, they managed to produce several classic hits that transcended the progressive rock label. Hits include “Roundabout”, “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Long Distance Runaround”, “Close To The Edge”, “The Gates Of Delirium”, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Yesterday And Today”, “Everydays”, “Looking Around”, “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”, “Time And A Word”, “Yours Is No Disgrace”, and “A Venture”, along with classic albums such as Fragile and Close To The Edge, among others.
This is certainly quite a diverse group of performers. I know there has been disagreement on some of these artists, as several of them don’t fit easily into the standard pigeon-hole of “rock and roll”. But that’s okay in my opinion, as the Hall of Fame is not solely based on one style of music or on record sales. It is based more on influence and expanding popular music, and this group more than qualifies on that score.
And there you have it, the 2017 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Listen to their music. Enjoy it. And learn…
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