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Arts and Entertainment

Rock Hall hits and misses
Neil Diamond's induction may pave the way for others

Kabir Bhatia
Rock Hall voters (heart) this club of Diamonds.
Courtesy of Kbatia
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Five more performers will be added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight, and WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia has more on who’s in and who isn’t… yet.

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This year's class demonstrates just how inclusive the words “rock and roll” can be. The shock-rocking theatrics of Alice Cooper, Tom Waits' growled after-hours laments and Darlene Love's ‘60s girl group wall of sound will all be at home next to David Bowie, Bob Dylan and the Supremes. Dr. John's New Orleans R&B comes out of the Crescent City's
often overlooked history of swamp pop.
Also in this year… Neil Diamond, who has polarized critics for much of the past four decades. He's been dismissed as a schmaltzy, pretentious crooner and been parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by Will Ferrell.

But John Gorman, program director of rock icon WMMS during its 1970s and 80s heyday, says the Rock Hall is looking back to the beginning of Diamond’s career.

In terms of record sales, Diamond is No. 7 on the list of most successful artists who had NOT been inducted. Ahead of him is Donna Summer, who was nominated this year but missed the cut, and Hall & Oates, who have never been on the ballot.

Artists become eligible for the Rock Hall 25 years after the release of their first record. Giants like The Beatles and Elvis were inducted in their first years of eligibility, while lesser-appreciated artists from the 50s, 60s and 70s are only now getting their due. Gorman dismisses the argument that, a quarter century from now, there’ll be no one left to honor.

Next year alone, voters may get to reconsider those who missed the cut, like the Beastie Boys, the J. Geils Band, LL Cool J and Laura Nyro, and newly eligible acts Guns N' Roses, New Kids On The Block, Salt ‘N Pepa, Soundgarden and Ohio’s own Guided By Voices.

Listener Comments:

Kudos to the Hall for electing Dr John despite having only one Top 40 hit. Dr. John is best known for “Right Place Wrong Time” and “Such a Night,” but it was his first single, “Iko Iko,” from the 1972 album “Dr. John’s Gumbo,” that introduced his New Orleans sound to the rest of the country. For most listeners, “Iko Iko” was a cover of the 1965 Dixie Cups hit. But the song’s ancestry goes back to 1952… and beyond.

On my Rockaeology blog at I tell how the song has roots in the chants of Mardi Gras krewes. The lyrics of James “Sugar Boy” Crawford’s “Jock-A-Mo” unwittingly served as the inspiration for the Dixie Cups’ hit.

Posted by: Jensen Lee (New York, NY) on March 14, 2011 10:03AM
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