Dionne Warwick rarely rocks.
Nor, for that matter, do Carole King, Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Jay Z, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, or most of the other 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees.
All of which is making Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider really mad.
“The RnR Hall committee members are arrogant elitist assholes who look down on metal and other bands that sell millions because we’re not their definition of cool,” Snider recently railed on Twitter. “The fan vote is their ‘throwing a bone’ to the peasants. I want to say FU, but I want them to have to deal with us!”
And so it is that the 65-year-old rock banshee, whose band is best known for its ’80s hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” is putting the full weight of his House of Hair newsletter behind Iron Maiden, the lone metal band among this year’s 16 nominees. (Sorry, Rage Against the Machine doesn’t count.)
Snider’s goal is to rally metal fans to march en masse to rockhall.com and elevate Iron Maiden to its rightful place at the top of this year’s fans’ ballot.
Not that it will matter. According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inductees are chosen by an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry types. Factor in the fans’ ballot and it’s more than 1,001.
So far, Snider hasn’t been overly pleased with how the popular vote is turning out. “At press time,” reported House of Hair, “Iron Maiden was ranked at #4 in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fan vote tally, behind Fela Kuti (!), Tina Turner and the Foo Fighters, and closely followed by Carole King.”
Things haven’t changed much in the three weeks since. As of this writing, the No. 1 position continues to be held by Fela Kuti — or, as Snider would have it, Fela Kuti (!) — followed by Tina Turner, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, The Go-Go’s, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, Rage Against the Machine, Dionne Warwick, Devo, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, the New York Dolls, LL Cool J and Jay-Z.
So granted, rock is no longer the majority shareholder when it comes to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees. But why should it be?
Rock purists who feel they’ve been dealt an injustice are overlooking the fact that rock ’n’ roll — the genre the Hall of Fame is named after — was a predominantly Black music that drew upon R&B, doowop, blues and gospel. With the growing success of artists like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the 1950s, it wasn’t long before their music was appropriated by white musicians and repackaged as “rock music” by an industry that found white artists more marketable to white audiences.
So is it a surprise that rock ’n’ roll artists are completely absent from this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame shortlist? It shouldn’t be.
On the eve of last year’s nominations, the Hall of Fame’s hometown site Cleveland.com — which attracts an average of 9.9 million unique users each month — published its “25 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Ever.”
“While you can make an argument for just about any artist that has been inducted, there are a few dozen [that] fans will swear have no business in music’s hallowed ground,” they wrote, before sharing a personal hall of shame that included the inductions of Ritchie Valens, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Percy Sledge, The Dells, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Gene Pitney and Del Shannon.
Ritchie Valens’ “Rock Hall résumé,” according to Cleveland.com, was pretty light. “Yes, he was the pioneer of Chicano rock,” they grudgingly acknowledge. ‘And yes, ‘La Bamba’ was a huge hit. But that alone should not have earned him induction.”
Percy Sledge is similarly dismissed. “Sledge has one hit,” they point out. “That’s not to discredit his other work. That’s just a fact. ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ is all anyone knows. Does that make him influential?”
Meanwhile, truly worthy artists continue to be snubbed by these arrogant elitists who have tormented us for the better part of a half-century. Artists like, you know, Nancy Sinatra.
“I would meet someone like Stevie Nicks, and she wouldn’t give me the cold shoulder, exactly, but she wasn’t friendly,” Sinatra told the Boston Globe. “With people like Stevie Nicks — the in crowd, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame crowd — I’m like Rodney Dangerfield: I got no respect from them.”
Don’t laugh. During the Waco siege, the FBI attempted to blast the Branch Davidians out of their compound by tormenting them day and night with amplified recordings of shrieking seagulls, keening bagpipes, Buddhist chants, Islamic prayers, Christmas carols, strangled rabbits, Alice Cooper and, yes, Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” And what could be more rock ’n’ roll than that?