How is this for a rock ‘n roll resume? He is credited with inventing the power chord -- a staple of rock ‘n roll. He was one of the first, if not the first, guitarists to use distortion -- a staple of much rock ‘n roll. He had the first rock instrumental banned from radio airplay -- surely a sign of rock ‘n roll attitude. He influenced Peter Townsend, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young -- rock hall of famers.
With a resume like that, this artist should be shoo in first ballot inductee to Cleveland's Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. If that is what you think, you are wrong!
This begs the question of who were the other more influential -- more important rockers -- who will be inducted in 2014. The answer is -- the envelope please . . . ta da -- Hall & Oates, Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Kiss, and Nirvana. Huh? Except for Nirvana, you must be shaking your head in disbelief. Even though it influenced nobody of consequence, Kiss at least could be considered a band of rockers -- attitude, distortion, and power chords.
The others? Pablum. Pop. Millions of records or CDs, but not many power chords. Not much rock ‘n roll attitude. How many aspiring rockers out there today are thinking, “Wow, I want to be badass like Hall & Oates?”
Bob Seger wrote and sang, “Rock ‘n Roll Never Forgets.” But he misjudged how quickly rock ‘n roll really forgets. Clearly, a glittering resume can be forgotten. Contributions that still endure can be forgotten. Influencing a great generation of rockers can be forgotten.
Last week, the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame decided that Fred Lincoln Wray, Jr. was not worthy of induction. Maybe the selectors did not want somebody named “Fred Lincoln” in their august ranks. Wait, that was shortened to “Link.” How could they exclude Link Wray? How could they exclude anybody with his resume? How could they exclude anybody who influenced the rockers that he did?
That, my friends, proves that our memories are short and, contrary to anything written by Bob Seger, rock ‘n roll forgets. At one time, a whole generation of rockers wanted to be badass like Link Wray. They followed his lead and broke away from existing musical conventions. Without his influence, you have to wonder how 1960s rock would have sounded.
Link Wray wrote and performed “Rumble” in 1958. Edgy. Ominous. Rough. Simple. Dangerously subversive. Iggy Pop claims that hearing “Rumble” called him to pursue music as a career. Bob Dylan referred to it as the best instrumental ever. Pete Townsend said, “If it hadn’t been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble,’ I would have never picked up a guitar.” How many future rockers will say something similar about Hall & Oates or any of their singles?
Clearly, the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame has forgotten the roots of rock. Maybe it should change its name to the "Pop Music Hall of Fame." The Hall once was on my list of places to see. But now I know that Stiv Bators and the Dead Boys were right when introducing “Ain’t Nothing To Do” on Night of the Living Dead Boys: “This song’s about Cleveland.”
I have to agree that there ain't nothing to do in Cleveland unless you want to be badass like Hall & Oates.