The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012 was announced today and it includes Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beastie Boys, Donovan, Laura Nyro, and The Small Faces/The Faces, Don Kirshner, Freddie King, Glyn Johns, Tom Dowd, and Cosimo Matassa.
The biggest deal in all of this to me is Freddie King, who is by far my favorite on this list, and goes in as an early influence. He's no longer with us and won't be there to accept the honor and will be overshadowed by "bigger" names, but the Texas Cannonball was undeniably an influence on many of the rock bands who draw their roots from the blues and is simply one of the great artists of the 20th century. I'd like to think this will cause a surge of interest in the man and his work. It probably won't and that's a shame. It's your loss, friends. I'll be celebrating this with my twin FK box sets.
The biggest deal to everyone else is going to be Guns N' Roses. Do they deserve induction on the merits of their music? Did they release enough classic, timeless material to join these allegedly hallowed halls? Those questions matter less now that the band is going into the HoF, but they're worth considering before we join the conversation everyone else is having this morning (will they or won't they?).
Appetite For Destruction is considered by many at the very least a classic of its era and to some a classic rock and roll record. We thought there was a long delay in delivering the twin Use Your Illusion albums but learned that was nothing compared to what would come later. The Illusion records were runaway commercial successes with hit singles and videos, two of which were covers ("Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Live And Let Die") but were also messy records with moments of extreme indulgence. Izzy Straddlin' left during the megatour, and that was probably the least tabloid moment of their next few years which involved riots in St. Louis and Canada, lawsuits, delayed shows, temper tantrums, and one night in Birmingham, AL, Axl fired the tech in charge of the monitors three songs into the show.
Their next effort was a collection of covers, and then began the long, never-to-be fully understood saga of Chinese Democracy that included the removal of every member of Guns N' Roses' classic lineup with the exception of Axl himself (and if any of you say Dizzy Reed, you're going to be politely asked to leave).
This is just one more opportunity for the world to wonder: will they or won't they? Will Axl and Slash put aside their burning hatred and take the stage to accept the honor and perform together at the ceremony. What about Izzy, Duff, Steven Adler, or Matt Sorum? Will we get the Blondie moment where exiled members of the band show up only to be left out in the cold? Will Axl show at all?
Outside the GNR circle we have The Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, both of whom were influential in their own distinct ways. The Beastie Boys brought an underground punk approach to hip hop music. They were a crazy phenomenon, controversial, and lampooned. That was just for their first album Licensed To Ill. They were ignored with their follow-up, Paul's Boutique, which is now considered by many a classic. They further reinvented themselves and added to their musical palette and also cut classic videos during an era when that meant something. The Beastie Boys grew up and became involved in various activist causes including the Tibetan Freedom movement and released an album this year, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, after delaying it while band member Adam Yauch battled cancer.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers brought funk to the masses with their '80s output and then, after many personal problems and lineup changes, against all odds matured into a stadium rock band with songs bathed in Beach Boys-esque harmonies. Their youthful exuberance and borderline sophomoric antics during the Freakey Styley era could hardly have predicted what would come with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Californication, and By The Way. The Chili Peppers also released a new record this year, I'm With You, featuring yet another new guitarist (Josh Klinghoffer).
The inductees will be officially enshrined April 14, 2012. Pop your popcorn.