Fourteen years after eligibility, Rush’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came with cheers and even some jeers aimed at those believed responsible for the long overdue honor. Rush, along with classic rock darlings Heart, and six others, were inducted Thursday at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles for the 28th annual ceremony.
“We have been saying for a long time it’s not a big deal,” said drummer Neil Peart who took the podium first. “It turns out, it kind of is.”
The overwhelmingly Rush crowd roared at nearly every mention of the band and half the audience delivered a standing ovation at the beginning of the five-hour long show when it was announced who the inductees were. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters inducted Rush. Grohl taped into fans’ impatience and frustration with the Hall of Fame committees failure to nominate the band by reciting every Rush album to a growing chorus of cheers.
“Their influence is undeniable,” Grohl said. “They have always been cool!”
Geddy Lee, singer and bassist for Rush, thanked the fans and paid homage by describing them as the most passionate and most dedicated fan base around the globe. Guitarist Alex Lifeson concluded the evening by giving one of the most comical and poignant speeches ever given at an awards ceremony. Certainly, at the very least, he summed up the majority of the evening’s long-winded, tedious and sometimes cumbersome introductions and acceptance speeches. He simply said “Blah” over and over articulating different tones and body language but the funny thing is the audience knew exactly what he meant.
After leaving the stage to prepare for a short set the Foo Fighters emerged dressed in white kimonos poking fun of the band’s photo from the album 2112 and proceeded to play the Overture section of the iconic “2112.” Lee, Peart and Lifeson finished the set with “Tom Sawyer” and “Spirit of Radio.”
The Hall of Fame committee’s pass of Rush for so long not only rankled fans but in many respects diminished the perceived value for any band’s induction. Check that – any rock band’s induction. Rush is not the martyr here either. Heart’s induction is well over due and a number of groups still on the outs like Kiss, Yes and Deep Purple continue to undermine whatever the Hall’s mission or vision is.
A petition to get Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame began years ago and theories abound why it took so long. The band’s seemingly libertarian views, well-noted on 1976’s acclaimed 2112 album, is not a stretch considering the likely paternalistic ideology of the Hall’s voting committee. But it’s quite possible the band just simply was not respected or liked for whatever reason.
Not once has Rush graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of that magazine is also co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. This is not to say Rolling Stone is the end all be all, as its relevancy died a long time ago, however one can easily connect the dots. Wenner received an earful from the crowd when he delivered introductory comments.
The idea of a Hall of Fame typically embraces the ideals of the NFL and Major League Baseball. Hall of Fame players tend to have all or some characteristics of longevity, consistency, milestones/records and expertise at their given position. In short, the best of the best – like for example a band that has sold 40 million records worldwide and who rank third behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones for the most gold and platinum records by a rock band. Suffice it to say, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame always feels more popularity contest.
Case in point, Rush’s popularity in recent years has soared thanks in part to the well-received Beyond the Lighted Stage documentary. And, unlike in past decades, people who don’t like Rush today at least respect the band for their longevity and overwhelming accomplishments. It’s pretty hard to knock a band consisting of the same members for nearly 40 years with 20 studio albums and still tours to sold-out arenas and amphitheaters.
The Rock and Roll Hall certainly has done right by artists like The Who, Elvis Presley, Black Sabbath and the Beatles, just to name a few. However, Madonna? Red Hot Chili Peppers? Sounds more like Bubblegum Pop Hall of Fame. The one-album wonder Sex Pistols? And Public Enemy in Thursday’s ceremony? Since when is the spoken word set to computer-aided sampled music considered rock and roll? Certainly it makes one pause when Chuck D spends time in his acceptance speech defending rap as a legitimate form of music and justifying why the group belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Perhaps the line of the evening therefore goes to Don Henley in his induction speech for Randy Newman. Lamenting on what he believed was Newman’s long overdue recognition he described the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a “peculiar and perplexing organization.”
The list of questionable acts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is nearly as long as who actually deserves to be in it. Perhaps, then, the Hall should change its name to Music Hall of Fame if the desire is to represent all forms of music and musical expression much like the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. Otherwise the American Pop Music Hall of Fame, opening this summer in Pennsylvania, might be a better spot for pop artists. Of course, many of the inaugural inductees in the Pop Music Hall already have honors in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Rock Music Hall of Fame anyone?
2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees:
Setlist for Rush:
2112 (Overture) –played by Foo Fighters
Spirit of Radio
Setlist for Heart:
Crazy on You