KISS used their unmistakable makeup and Detroit-born hard rock to garner a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. (Special photo)
How the Hall of Fame votes
Leaders in the music industry gathered in 1983 to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. One of the foundation’s primary responsibilities is to recognize the contributions of those who have had significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock ‘n’ roll by inducting those in the Hall of Fame.
A foundation’s nominating committee selected this year’s nominees in the performer category.
The 2014 inductees will be selected by a secret ballot of more than 600 voters, including all past inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, musicians, historians, critics and other members of the industry.
To be inducted, a nominee must be named on a minimum of 50 percent of the ballots. The foundation usually selects five to seven nominees.
Individuals or groups become eligible to be nominated in the performers’ category 25 years after the release of their first record.
Three other award winners are selected by special committees. Those awards are:
— Ahmet Ertegun Award for songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, journalists and other industry professionals who have had a major influence on the development of rock ‘n’ roll.
— The Early Influences Award recognizes artists whose music predated the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll and inspired rock’s leading artists.
— The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award for Musical Excellence honors those musicians, producers and others who have spent their careers out of the spotlight while working with major performers.
Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, and The Replacements are among the first-time nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, Link Wray and the Zombies are the other first-time nominees.
Others previously nominated and on the ballot again are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, KISS, LL Cool J, The Meters, N.W.A. and Cat Stevens.
The new inductees will be announced in December, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held in April in New York.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the 16 nominees:
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band started in Chicago with a wall of sound led by Butterfield’s harmonica and lead guitarist Mike Bloomfield. They played a combination of American rock ‘n’ roll and Southside Chicago blues. The Butterfield band converted country/blues purists and turned on the followers of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James. With the release of their blues album in the fall of 1965, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band opened a door that brought a new edge to rock and roll.
Chic helped rescue disco in 1977 with a combination of groove, soul and New York City studio smarts. Out-of-the-box chart smashes “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and chart-toppers “Le Freak” and “Good Times” in 1979 extended disco’s tenure at a critical moment, as hip-hop began to take the stage.
Taking their name from a 1930s swingtime-era pop hit covered by Nino Tempo and April Stevens in 1963, the British quintet was organized in 1967. Classically trained Jon Lord, who died in 2012 at age 71, was responsible for the organ sound that formed the band’s bedrock. Lord found an ally for his classical ideas in guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Their sound, along with contemporaries Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, led critics to coin a new musical genre called heavy metal. The original lineup peaked with three Top 40 hits: “Hush” reached No. 4 in 1968. “Kentucky Woman,” a cover of Neil Diamond’s hit, rose to No. 38 later that year. “Smoke on the Water” climbed to No. 4 in 1973. The band has been touring for more than four decades.
Peter Gabriel’s influence is so widespread it is taken for granted. The former Genesis frontman blended synthesizers and a signature drum sound that influenced artists from U2 and Arcade Fire to Depeche Mode. With extraordinary ambition, Gabriel transitioned from cult artist to multimedia pop star to global rock icon. He had two Top 10 hits: “Sledgehammer,” which topped the charts in 1986, and “Big Time,” which was No. 8 in 1987.
Hall and Oates
Daryl Hall and John Oates created a mix of soul and rock that made them the No. 1 charting duo of the rock era, surpassing the Everly Brothers. As songwriters and singers, they embraced the pop mainstream, returning creativity to the three-minute single. During the course of their career, they recorded six No. 1 hits and placed 16 songs in the Billboard Top 10. The Temple University students joined forces during the early 1970s in Philadelphia and landed a deal with Atlantic a short while later. Their No. 1 hits were “Rich Girl” in 1977, “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes” and “I Can’t Go For That” in 1981, “Maneater” in 1982 and “Out of Touch” in 1984. They set the stage for crossover songs by Madonna and Prince. Their influence also is felt in the work of contemporary performers such as Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake.
Excluding the Beatles, no band inspired more kids to pick up the guitar than KISS. With their outlandish makeup, explosive stage show and anthems like “Rock And Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City,” they personified rock stars. Original members Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons came together in New York in 1972. They had nine Top 40 hit singles and regularly sold-out tours. KISS had two Top 10 hits: “Beth” jumped to No. 7 in 1976 and “Forever” to No. 8 in 1990.
LL Cool J
Currently starring in the highly rated TV series “NCIS: Los Angeles,” LL Cool J always wanted to be a rock and roller. Born James Todd Smith in Queens, N.Y., Cool J was 17 in 1985 when he recorded “Rock The Bells.” A year earlier, he debuted on Def Jam, which was also the debut of the label. When “I Need Love” went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in 1987, it was the first rap recording to reach that pinnacle. Besides “I Need Love,” he had nine other Top 40 hits, five of which landed in the Top 10. They were “Around the Way Girl” in 1991, “Hey Lover” in 1995, “Doin’ It,” “Loungin’” and “This is for the Lover in You” in 1996.
James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Parliament-Funkadelic all gained entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet one of the cornerstones of funk is still waiting for the Hall doors to swing open. The Meters were not only the leading instrumental unit to emerge from New Orleans, they were also one of the tightest and hardest-grooving ensembles R&B has seen. Formed in 1965, the Meters first came to local prominence as the house band for Allen Toussaint’s record label, Sansu. In 1969, the band went on its own and released a string of slamming singles: “Sophisticated Cissy,” “Cissy Strut,” “Look-Ka Py Py” and “Chicken Strut.” “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut” were the group’s only singles to break into the Top 40, but they failed to reach the Top 25. The band developed into one of the industry’s hottest session groups, working with Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, LaBelle and Dr. John.
It only takes one song to start a rock revolution. That trigger, in late 1991, was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” an exhilarating blast of punk-rock by Nirvana, a trio from Seattle. “Teen Spirit,” its moshpit-party video and Nirvana’s kinetic live shows propelled their second album, Nevermind, to No. 1 and turned singer-guitarist-songwriter Kurt Cobain into the voice and conscience of an alternative-rock nation. Founded by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Wash., Nirvana were underground stars when they made 1989’s “Bleach” with drummer Chad Channing. In April 1994, Cobain — suffering from drug addiction and doubts about his stardom — committed suicide. Like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, Cobain was 27 and in his creative prime when he died. Also like those legendary artists, he and Nirvana remain an enduring influence.
N.W.A. is one of the most important groups in hip-hop history. Their aggressive and don’t-give-a-damn perspective was made clear by their name. Some call them the Beatles of hip-hop because of their massive influence and their prominence as a launching pad for several critical solo careers. Dr. Dre, the greatest producer in hip-hop history, created the G-Funk sound he would become known for while he was in N.W.A.
The Replacements never had a hit single. Career-wise, they were masters of self-destruction, but in the long decade between the fall of the Clash and the rise of Nirvana, they were the heart and soul of the post-punk/indie/alternative/college rock movement. Their shows could be triumphs or disasters, often both in the same night.
Linda Ronstadt dominated popular music during the 1970s with a voice of tremendous range and power. She was one of the most important voices in the creation of country rock because she knew how to sing traditional country songs like “Silver Thread and Golden Needles.” She regularly crossed over to the country charts during that span. Ronstadt had a repertoire of songs that roamed throughout rock history. Ronstadt was especially good at singing early rock ‘n’ roll, and she had a long string of hits that revived interest in rock’s pioneers, including Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou,” The Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved?” and Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day.” Her finest work was the run of four consecutive platinum albums during the mid-70s: “Heart Like a Wheel” in 1974, “Prisoner in Disguise” in 1975, “Hasten Down The Wind” in 1976 and “Simple Dreams” in 1977. She had 20 Top 40 hits including seven that reached the Top 5: “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved?” and “Heat Wave” in 1975; “Blue Bayou” and “It’s So Easy” in 1977; “Somewhere Out There” in 1987, and “Don’t Know Much” in 1989. Now suffering from Parkinson’s, Ronstadt is the only artist to win a Grammy in the pop, country, Mexican American and Tropical Latin categories.
Cat Stevens’ career was derailed in the late 1970s when he converted to Islam. He left his touring and recording life behind and named himself Yusuf Islam. Long-time fans abandoned him, and he discovered that certain international borders were closed. It was 17 difficult years between his final LP as Cat Stevens (1978’s “Back To Earth”) and the first CD as Yusuf Islam, and more than a decade until his first pop album in nearly 30 years (“An Other Cup” in 2006). The musical gifts that he shared with the world are an important chapter in rock history. The London native had 11 Top 40 hits from 1971 to 1977. Three of those songs reached the Top 10: “Peace Train” in 1971, “Morning has Broken” in 1972 and “Another Saturday Night” in 1974, a cover of a Sam Cooke hit.
Link Wray (1929-2005) had two hits, “Rumble” in 1958 and “Rawhide” in 1959, and neither broke into the Top 15. The master of power chords, the North Carolina native was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 guitarists of all time. Among the rockers his style influenced were Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen.
One of the most enduring bands in rock history, the progressive-rock group was formed in London in 1968. The group had six Top 40 hits: “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which reached No. 1 in 1983, was the only Top 10 hit. The group disbanded in 1980 and reformed in 1983 with a different sound. While many of their contemporaries wilted when punk hit, Yes managed to survive. Most of their progressive contemporaries — like Pink Floyd, Genesis and Emerson Lake & Palmer — retired years ago. Yes continues to tour today.
One aspect of the first wave of the British Invasion was the variety of sounds and styles that emerged. At one end of the scale were the blues-drenched followers of American blues and R&B like the Rolling Stones, Animals and Yardbirds. At the other end were the more sophisticated sounds of the Zombies. The group had three Top 40 hits, all of which made it into the Top 10. “She’s Not There” reached No. 2 in 1964, “Tell Her No” No. 6 in 1965 and “Time of the Season” No. 3 in 1969.