I have subscribed to Goldmine magazine for over three decades. In recent years, it has morphed into more of a music lover’s magazine, but that’s fine with me. There are great articles in every issue, and a few of them gave me ideas for ElvisBlog posts. It happened again this month.
As you may know, the latest class of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was announced recently. That inspired one of the best Goldmine writers, Mike Greenblatt, to post an article on their website about singers and groups worthy of induction that have been passed over time and again.
From top left, they are Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Harry Nilsson, Little Feet (lead singer Lowell George shown). Willie DeVille, and Warren Zevon. For some reason, Greenblatt’s other choice, The Doobie Brothers, is not included in the picture montage.
I can see his point on all of them except Willy Deville. In fact, I was into classic rock from the late 60s on, and I owned albums by Jethro Tull, Harry Nilsson and Little Feet. However, Greenblatt overlooked something — something that the Hall of Fame voters have ignored for years…
It’s as though the Hall voters think, “Well, those 50s acts have been eligible for so long, surely all the good ones are inducted by now.” The last 50s singer to be inducted was Brenda Lee in 2002. Not one 50s act in the last 17 years. This is just wrong, and it motivated me to make the ElvisBlog Rock & Roll Hall of Fame snub list.
First, here’s a little history of the induction of 50s acts.
Jerry Lee Lewis
1988 The Drifters
1990 The Platters
1991 LaVerne Baker
1994 Duane Eddy
1998 Gene Vincent, Lloyd Price
2000 The Moonglows
2001 Ritchie Valens
2002 Brenda Lee
As you can see, over the past thirty years, only eight 50s acts have made it to the Rock Hall, and none since 2002. I believe they don’t even consider them anymore.
Here are four that I contend deserve recognition, too — my own Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Snub List
I have read articles saying Boone does not belong for two reasons. One, he stole lots of his earliest hits from genuine R&B singers and groups. Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame,” The El Dorados “At My Front Door,” the Flamingos’ “I’ll Be Home,” Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally,” and Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Almost Lost My Mind.”
That argument has always bothered me because Elvis did the same thing at the start of his career. Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right,” and “My Baby Left Me,” Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman,” Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train,” Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy, and Little Richard’s “Tuitti Fruitti.”
The other beef some folks have about Pat Boone is that he wasn’t really a rocker because his biggest hits were ballads like, “Love Letters in the Sand,” “April Love,” and “Don’t Forbid me.” This doesn’t make sense. The Platters hits were all ballads, and that didn’t keep them out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
I can add a personal note here. I was around in the late 50s, and I listened to rock and roll music on my favorite AM radio station. To us teenagers, everything we heard on that station was rock and roll, because that was their format. We totally accepted the Platters, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Flamingos and everyone else we heard as rock and roll stars. Fast songs, slow songs. — it was all rock and roll to us.
Because the teenagers and the disc jockeys of the 50s considered Pat Boone to be a rock and roll star, the Hall voters should give this man a break and vote him in before he leaves this earth.
I make frequent searches into the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Guess how many Top 40 hits Connie Francis had? Thirty-five, including four #1s: It’s strange, but her most enduring hits, “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Lipstick on Your Collar” made it to only #4 and #5 respectively.
A Goldmine magazine article said, “This New Jersey teenager was the first female superstar of Rock & Roll, her success laying the groundwork for every following young lady who wanted to become a Rock & Roll recording star. That she has maintained her icon status and remains, even today, a successful force in the industry is a tribute to her enduring talent.” Mighty high praise, and well deserved.
Connie Francis’ career spanned the late 50s and early 60s. Her hit production in either decade alone would justify induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How can someone with thirty-five hits be ignored like this?
Chuck Willis was the embodiment of a fifties dance craze called the Stroll. At every high school dance, when his hit “C.C. Rider” came on, we would immediately form long double stroll lines. Couples would take turns “strolling” down between the lines.
Dancers could keep it simple or could show off their spin moves. Everybody loved “C.C. Rider,” and I couldn’t believe it when I looked it up in that Top 40 book and saw that it topped out at number 12.
Chuck Willis had two more stroll hits, then a faster one, “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes,” that turned out to be prophetic. Although he was just 30 years old, he failed to survive an operation in early 1958. He had recorded the song a few weeks before, and it was released posthumously.
I guess Rock Hall voters have bypassed Chuck Willis because he had just four hits. That doesn’t make sense. Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran had only three hits each, and they’re in the Hall of Fame. But the big issue to me is how someone who originated a rock and roll dance craze could be ignored.
The Diamonds are best remembered for their huge hit, “Little Darlin’,” but they had fourteen other Top 40 records. Their second biggest hit was, “The Stroll.” As I’ve already said, the Stroll was a huge dance craze in the late 50s, and The Diamonds jumped right on the bandwagon.
There is some interesting trivia about “Little Darlin’.” It stayed at #2 on the charts for eight weeks. Do you know what song was lodged at #1 and kept it out of the top spot? It was “All Shook Up,” by Elvis.
Perhaps the knock against The Diamonds is that they too, began their career with covers of songs that were already hits for black R&B artists. Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” The Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring,” The Rays’ “Silhouettes,” and others. Honestly, I don’t like this PC nonsense when it comes to voting for rock stars. If a singing group scores 15 Top 40 hits, they belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Period.
Maybe someday the Rock Hall will have something like baseball has for the MLB Hall of Fame. It’s an old timers committee that looks back to see what worthy players have been passed over and finally gives them the recognition they deserve. I think the four acts on my snub list would prime candidates.
I have one more singer to mention. He’s not a 50s star because he made his mark in the early 60s. But, I have been a lifetime fan, so I’ll toot his horn, too.
Chubby Checker has been eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since its very first induction year 1986. I can’t believe the selection voters have skipped Chubby for 43 straight years. He is the only rocker to have the same song reach #1 two separate times, first in 1960 then again in 1961. That incredible accomplishment alone should get him in the hall.
Chubby was lucky to live and record in Philadelphia, because that was the home of American Bandstand. When “The Twist” was released, Dick Clark was happy to book Chubby for multiple appearances, and that led to other TV shows. He did live concerts everywhere. But he didn’t just sing on TV or the stage. He danced. To quote Goldmine magazine again, “His constant appearances, his good looks, his winning smile and his personable nature – not to mention his dancing prowess – made even adults want to twist… Following his lead, the world soon was twisting.”
By what logic has Chubby Checker been denied recognition by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? He wasn’t just a one-hit act. In addition to “The Twist” Chubby had 17 other hits, and a total of seven Top 10 songs. This man does not deserve such shabby treatment.
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