Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Vindication for 2013 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

Randy Newman’s glad he didn’t have to do anything drastic to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The members of Rush are choosing to let bygones be bygones. And Quincy Jones, well, he’s still mad.

For most of this year’s inductees, inclusion was a long time coming.

“I’m very happy,” the 69-year-old Newman said Monday from his home in Los Angeles. “I thought I’d have to die first, but I’m glad I’m around to see it.”

Newman is joined in the 2013 class by the eclectic group of rockers Rush and Heart, rap group Public Enemy, “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer and bluesman Albert King. Jones and his friend Lou Adler will enter the hall as Ahmet Ertegun Award winners for their contributions to rock beyond performance.

They will be inducted into the hall of fame April 18 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will mark the end of a long wait for fans of five of those six acts, who’ve been eligible for entry for some time. Public Enemy was inducted on its first ballot appearance, swelling the ranks of hip-hop entries.

In many ways, the 2013 class balances the scales, though not nearly soon enough for some new members.

“Well, it’s about time, man,” Jones said late Monday night in an interview from his home in Los Angeles. “But I promise you I’m not sitting around worrying about it.”

Summer, who died at age 63 in May, gains entry after six years as a nominee. King, a deep influence on Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn who died in 1992, now takes his place along all the other legendary blues guitarists in the hall.

Rush, one of the most-played staples of classic rock radio, gained entry following its first appearance on the ballot. But the Canadian trio became eligible in 1998 and was repeatedly left off the list, to the great consternation of its legion of fans who cried bias against prog rock. Heart also waited a decade to make it on the ballot, gaining entry during its second appearance.

After years of disappointment, then disinterest, Rush’s Alex Lifeson said the band now feels “wonderful” about its entry into the hall and is especially happy for its followers.

“First of all it’s all water under the bridge and it was a very tiny bridge,” the 59-year-old guitarist said in a phone interview from his home in Toronto. “I think our fans are more upset than we were because they feel a real bond to this band and it’s been an important part of their lives in some form, and to be snubbed was snubbing them at the same time. . . . Perhaps there were times when I thought if this ever happens I’m not going to bother going, or who cares or whatever, but at the end of the day positive karma is an important thing and this is an important thing to a lot of our fans and people we know.”

Jones was less forgiving of the long wait he had. The 79-year-old entertainment icon’s fingerprints are all over the hall of fame. He pops up often at key moments in rock ‘n’ roll history and was even Ray Charles’ presenter during the soul singer’s induction at the inaugural 1986 ceremony. He never expected to wait so long for his own entry.

“I was pissed off about it at first because I saw how it was going down and who was going in and who wasn’t,” Jones said with a deep laugh. “But I’m used to it, man. I’ve been around a long time, and I know how it works, you know. It’s still an honor, man.”

The 2013 class also continues the process of opening the hall of fame’s doors a little bit wider.

In many cases, the delayed entry of this year’s inductees had to do with a debate among its membership over the hall of fame’s direction. The rock ‘n’ roll family sits under a big tent, but just how big it should be has been a matter of debate for the Cleveland, Ohio, institution.

The class may signal a new direction.

“That is an eclectic group,” Newman said. “Well that’s nice. It seems like they’re broadening what they think rock ‘n’ roll is. That’s good. There’s no point being doctrinaire about music. . . . People get awful strict. It’s a hell of a thing to get strict about, isn’t it?”

There was clearly no debate among the hall’s membership about Public Enemy, which gained membership on its 25th anniversary.

The openly militant, always angry group helped elevate and define nascent rap in the 1980s and ’90s. MC Chuck D said the group’s induction is about more than simple membership.

“It’s a great piece of news for the genre and our intention was to spread the light that our music is as legitimate as any other music,” Chuck D said as the group traveled through Wyoming on tour Monday. “ . . . So this is significant to be alongside Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run DMC and the Beastie Boys and just to be able to say this accomplishment, we don’t think it’s solely due to us.”

Lifeson hopes the hall’s membership keeps up with the trend.

“Maybe it should be the Music Hall of Fame and not so much the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Lifeson said. “But maybe it all is rock ‘n’ roll. It started as a little seed and grew into this great big tree with a lot of branches. That’s why it’s so sad the whole progressive movement, bands like Yes and King Crimson, are not included in this. And I hope one day that they are because they deserve to be in there way before we do. They were huge influences on us and so many other bands that have done fantastic work over the years. I know Deep Purple were up for this as well. It’s a little unfortunate that they didn’t make it in because they were extremely influential. I hope there comes a time when these other artists and bands are included because they were equally as influential as any of the ones that are being inducted today.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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