Sunday, October 19, 2014

P.S.I.P.O.: Rock and Roll Is Here to Pay, Part II

I wasted part of my Sunday watching YouTube clips of big rock and roll stars inducting other big rock and roll stars into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame™.

Mick Jagger was graceful, fluent, humble, enlightening and entertaining inducting the Beatles, and Paul McCartney moving in the recollections with which he inducted John Lennon. Ringo Starr's acceptance speech reminded me of a barroom soliloquy by an entertaining chap four drinks too amused by his own wit. And Pete Townshend? The man needs help and understanding, or at least he did in 1988.

This was the music of just before my youth, and it's the stuff I grew up listening to. Even Townshend's borderline tasteless jokes were leavened by his humility about the Rolling Stones, whom he inducted. There's something fascinating about watching musicians talking about their own favorite musicians. It's enough to give someone my age the feeling that he knows the people who provided the soundtrack of his youth.

Then the camera would cut to reaction shots of the audience, and I might as well have been looking at a Hollywood fund-raiser for a well-heeled Democratic presidential candidate. I wondered how much it cost to get a table at the front and how prominent a benefactor one had to be. I suspect no one under the age of, say, 45 will remember when listeners were fooled into thinking that rock and roll was about liberation and rebellion. And before you say, "Bruce Springsteen," know that he recently denied a college marching band permission to perform his music, according to the band's director.

Here's a blog post from Bouchercon 2012 and my visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame™, when I wrote that "rebellion has mellowed into concern for property rights." And I just can't bring myself to link to any of the numerous online lists of "The Top(sic) 5/10/20/50 Richest Rock and Roll Stars.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I liked what John Lydon said when refusing to accept the Six Pistols induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, calling the place a piss stain and like "urine in wine".

I wd love them to try and induct The Smiths just to hear what Morrissey wd say.

October 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hey, I like the Sex Pistols as much as the next middle-class suburban-bred guy. "Anarchy in the UK" and "God Save the Queen" are two of the great rock and roll songs ever. But the Pistols, under Malcolm McLaren, were savvy marketers of anger and rage, and I think Lydon's statements show that, not that I don't get a kick out of them.

I think the dawn of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at least roughly parallels that of the celebrity rock and roll duet, essentially Paul McCartney with anybody. Whether these means anything, I don't know.

October 20, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


In you analysis then they cant really win can they? If Lydon strongly rejects induction in the HOF and indeed the whole concept of the HOF its a savvy marketing move and if he accepts induction its selling out and a savvy marketing move...

Years ago I read a feminist critique that I cant find now analysing the number of female acts inducted into the HOF. Its something like 90% male when the history of pop hits is more or less 50.50. But many female pop acts & female rock bands were not Jann Wenners cup of tea so therefore no induction...

This year they inducted Kiss, which is the final in the coffin of its credibility if you ask me.

October 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I'm giving them hard time. But they're rock stars; they deserve it. I mean, it's no accident that rock stars have replaced movie stars as the epitomes of celebrity.

I'm not sure your perspective and mine are mutually exclusive. I would have no trouble believing that Lydon's attitude toward the hall is one of genuine disdain, but that he also realizes throwing in a few bodily exrecta will earn him a bit of notice he would not have otherwise received. And refusing induction, or refusing to show up to accept it, is an act, not just an attitude, so I believe him.

I remember being bemused when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was created. What need does a vital art form characterized, in part, by rebellion, need something like a Hall of Fame for, especially since the music of many of the inductees still got played on the radio every day? Maybe that's why when we visited the Hall during Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland, I enjoyed most the section on the country and blues precursors to rock and roll.

(In re Bouchercon, I rode the shuttle bus to the Hall with Stuart Neville. I think I called him "Z.Z. Top and guitar nut Stuart Neville.")

October 20, 2014  

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