Philly loses again.
Back in 2014, Hall & Oates became the first Philadelphia performers ever inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Daryl Hall was later asked by the Inquirer what other Philly acts should be in. He mentioned Chubby Checker and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (and their singer Teddy Pendergrass), and was emphatic about one of his rock and soul contemporaries. “Todd!” he replied. “Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
This year, it seemed like that was about to happen. The leader of Woody’s Truck Stop and the Nazz, the singer of “Can We Still Be Friends?” and “Hello, It’s Me” was nominated for the first time. The 70-year-old songwriter and producer from Upper Darby has a new album called Global due in the spring and a world tour that hits the Fillmore on May 1 and 2.
It seemed like the time had come for Rundgren, and the still-more-deserving John Prine, the 72-year-old songwriting sage who has been back in the spotlight this year with the excellent The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of new songs in 13 years (and one of my favorite albums of the year). As an elder statesman who is particularly revered by a new generation of Nashville songwriters, Prine would seem to be a no-brainer for induction.
But it was not to be for either of those septuagenarians, nor for many other nominees for whom a strong argument could be made, including the MC5, Kraftwerk, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Devo, and LL Cool J. Not too mention not-even-nominated types like Los Lobos and Warren Zevon. When will Warren Zevon get in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Did the Rock Hall do anything right this year? I’m not horribly mad about any of the actual 2019 inductees, who are: Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, the Cure, and the Zombies.
For better or worse, we’re well past the era of the Hall being only for incontrovertible all-time Mount Rushmore greats. At a time when Bon Jovi and the Moody Blues have recently gone in, this is a pretty good class, with each artist influential and archetypal of a significant certain strand of pop music history, from Radiohead’s latter-day art rock to Jackson’s lockstep rhythm nation R&B to the Zombies much loved late-1960s psychedelia.
The only one I’m really going to complain about is Stevie Nicks. She’s already in as a member of Fleetwood Mac. Is there really enough in her career as a solo artist to merit her additional inclusion over any of the snubbed acts listed above? Nope.
This year’s induction ceremony for the Cleveland museum will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 29 and will later be shown on HBO.