To get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, artists only become eligible 25 years after the release of their first record.
The popular culture website CultureSonar.com just released the poll results of its Top 10 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs, artists that fans believe should be in but, for whatever reasons, aren’t. Two hundred artists received votes.
Coming in at No. 10 is Three Dog Night, the L.A. band that recorded 21 Top 40 hits, including three that reached No. 1 (Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” Hoyt Axton’s “Joy to the World” and David Arkin and Earl Robinson’s “Black and White”).
At No. 9 is Boston band the Cars, whose first five LPs all went at least platinum, with their 1978 self-titled debut album being certified 6x platinum.
Also there are, at No. 8, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame members the Doobie Brothers from San Jose, owners of nine gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums; No. 7 Emerson, Lake & Palmer, during the ’70s the most popular progressive rock band on the planet and one of the biggest bands in any genre, which headlined festivals that each drew hundreds of thousands of fans but minimalist-loving critics hate them; and, at No. 6, Canada’s the Guess Who, led by singer-keyboardist Burton Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman that was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame 30 years ago because of such hits as “No Time,” “Share the Land” and the chart-topping “American Woman” and “No Sugar Tonight.”
The Top 5: L.A. rock band Little Feat, led by Lowell George (who died in 1979) that both John Lennon and Jimmy Page both at one time called their favorite American band, at No. 5.
Flint, Michigan, power trio Grand Funk Railroad, who in 1971 sold out Shea Stadium’s 55,000 seats faster than the Beatles, at No. 4.
English multigenre progressive rockers Jethro Tull, which included hard rock, jazz, blues and folk into their sound for 45 years, from 1967-2012 and that own 11 American gold and five platinum albums on their way to selling more than 60 million albums. at No. 3.
Warren Zevon, whose humorous tongue-in-cheek hits included “Excitable Boy,” “Lawyers, Guns and Money” and “Werewolves of London,” at No. 2.
And, the No. 1 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snub is the Moody Blues, who were initially part of the British Invasion (1964’s “Go Now”) but who made personnel changes in late 1966 and transformed themselves into one of the most popular classical rock and psychedelic bands in music history.
Other artists I believe deserve inclusion: • Procol Harum, because there is so much more great rock music to them than their hits “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Conquistador.”
• Joe Cocker, whose body of work over five decades qualifies him and whose performance of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock is one of the classic live moments ever.
• English art rock/glam rock leaders Roxy Music, fronted by Bryan Ferry, influenced an army of major hit makers, including Duran Duran and Depeche Mode (in 2005, the U.K.’s Guardian listed them as the No. 2 Most Influential British Band after the Beatles).
• Paul Revere and the Raiders, whose pounding, irresistible hits “Just Like Me, “Hungry,” “Kicks,” “Steppin’ Out” and “Good Thing” would have inducted them decades ago if they weren’t wearing Revolutionary War uniforms and their dynamite frontman Mark Lindsay wasn’t a teen idol.
• Surf music pioneers Jan and Dean, who, in 1963, became the first surf act to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart with “Surf City” and who got kids from coast to coast and everywhere in between to wear striped shirts and go sidewalk surfing.
Jerry Lewis, the singer
Most know Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday at his home in Las Vegas at age 91, as a comedian, actor, writer, film director and humanitarian. But did you know that he was also a successful recording star as a singer?
On July 24, 1956, the comedy team of Dean Martin and Lewis ended bitterly after a decade of incredible success on the stage, in the movies and on radio and television. From 1952 through 1957, after the breakup, they were even stars of their own best-selling monthly DC comic book series.
While the breakup proved traumatic for both of them, the good-looking Martin could act and sing and be loose and funny, so his continuing success was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Personally, Lewis wasn’t sure what the future held. Things were so bad that the comic confessed in his 2006 memoir, “Dean and Me”: “I was unable to put one foot in front of the other with any confidence. I was completely unnerved to be alone.”
So, he and his then-wife Patty went on vacation in Las Vegas, a city he and Martin played frequently. While there, Judy Garland was performing at one of the hotel casinos. One night, she was ill and her manager/husband Sid Luft called, asking him to fill in.
Lewis did this, filling his set with his usual jokes and yukking it up with the audience. However, during the show he did something else, something he hadn’t done as a professional. He sang in serious fashion, without any mugging or hamming it up. He sang “Rock-a-Bye Baby” and to close the show, “Come Rain or Come Shine.” He brought down the house.
He wrote, “When I was done, the place exploded. I walked offstage knowing that I could make it on my own.”
At Patty’s urging, Lewis used his own money to fund a recording session, where he cut both songs in a style reminiscent of Al Jolson with an orchestra in the big-band style he loved. Upon hearing the two songs, Capitol Records signed him.
“Rock-a-Bye” was released and it was big, hitting No. 10 and eventually selling four million copies.
Lewis then recorded an entire album for Decca Records, “Jerry Lewis Just Sings,” and wouldn’t you know it, the LP hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Not only that, but it had legs, sticking in the Top 5 for four months and selling a whopping 1.5 million copies.
Here’s the rub: “Jerry Lewis Just Sings” sold better than any of Martin’s LPs during his entire career, and it charted higher than any of his former partner’s albums, except for Dino’s 1964 compilation, “Everybody Loves Somebody,” which capitalized on the smash single of the same name, and that reached No. 2.
The following year, 1957, Lewis released a follow-up single with less success. “It All Depends on You,” a No. 2 hit in 1928 for bandleader Paul Whitman, only made it to No. 68. He also released his second album, the 12-song “More Jerry Lewis,” but it didn’t chart. A few other unreleased songs Lewis recorded at that time were eventually included on later compilations.
Aretha to open club
Aretha Franklin is planning her retirement, and she tells the Detroit Free Press that she’s amidst plans to open a club in downtown Detroit, where she and her legendary pals will perform.
“I’m interested in a small nightclub downtown. (I’ve) been talking about this for a couple years now,” said the 75-year-old First Lady of Soul. “In my retirement plan, I’d like to have a small club here in Detroit.”
She said the venue would be called, what else, Aretha’s.
She’d participate “from time to time,” she said. “I would sing, and of course, I would have special artists come in to perform, for the city that people in Detroit like — Detroit favorites.”
In February, she told Detroit’s WDIV-4 News, “I am retiring this year. I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it.”
She is putting the finishing touches on her latest album. The LP, set to come out in the fall, is produced by her lifelong buddy, Stevie Wonder.
Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse’
For husky-voiced Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler, the big total eclipse has proven to be a boon for her.
Her 1983 smash, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (written by Meatloaf’s songwriting and producing partner, Jim Steinman), has “soared in sales” this week, according to Nielsen Music.
Last week’s sales of digital downloads of the song increased a whopping 503 percent. Among its worldwide downloads were 12,000 in the U.S., up from 2,000 the week before. The day before Monday’s eclipse, 4,000 downloads were sold here.
In total, the song has sold 1.5 million downloads and 6 million copies overall since its release. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart for four weeks. That, and 1977’s “It’s a Heartache,” are her biggest hits.
To celebrate the eclipse, the 63-year-old Tyler performed the song on Monday on the Total Eclipse Cruise on the Royal Caribbean ship Oasis of the Seas, backed up by Joe Jonas and his band, DNCE.
Ozzy and the eclipse
At the peak of the total eclipse in southern Illinois on Monday, Ozzy Osbourne came onstage at Moonstock, a festival in Carterville, and led all with a performance of his 1983 biggie “Bark at the Moon,” reports the Southern Illinoisan.
At approximately 1:20 p.m., as the moon crossed directly in front of the sun, the 68-year-old former Black Sabbath frontman from Manchester, England, took to the stage. “Are you ready?” he yelled out. “Let’s go.” He then raged into the song that’s about a guy who becomes a werewolf. As the sun reappeared, Ozzy’s fabled wild man guitarist Zakk Wylde, kicked into a prolonged solo.
The festival was planned in anticipation of the eclipse and the very moment when Ozzie performed the song.
Obit: Sonny Burgess
Rockabilly pioneer Sonny Burgess suffered a fall at his Arkansas home and died at age 88 a month later, on Aug. 18, in a Little Rock hospital, reports the Nashville Tennessean,.
The paper called him “one of the last great Sun Records stars and first generation rockabilly cats.”
Singer-guitarist Burgess’ first group, the Pacers, was recorded by Sam Phillips. The single, Burgess’ “We Wanna Boogie,” (with another Burgess song, “Red Headed Woman,” as the B-side), was released in 1956 on Phillips’ Sun Records. At the time, Sun was home to Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison (Phillips sold Elvis Presley’s contract to RCA for $ 40,000 in November 1955.)
While he never scored any big hits, he achieved a reputation as a popular showman in concert, as a frenetic guitar player with a gruff Howlin’ Wolf-type singing style. Sonny was one of those guys who traveled the world, had a great long life, and had people who loved him all over the place.”
Phillips’ son, Jerry, said: “Sonny was one of the outstanding guys he worked with. … Sonny had his own unique sound, which was the highest compliment Sam could give you.”
Burgess, a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, continued to perform regularly until his fall last month.
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. It can be read in its entirety on www.presstelegram.com. Like, recommend or share the column on Facebook. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.