In which we define the issue’s parameters and scope, determine resources, and find none of us is wearing pants.
Last Sunday I read my near-daily dose of music-industry gossip and flamethrower opinion from The Lefsetz Letter. That day’s missive dealt with an issue I was surprised I had missed: how the British Invasion group the Dave Clark Five didn’t get into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, but Grandmaster Flash did, even though the DC5 had more votes when all were counted.Long story short: after all first ballots that came into the Hall were tallied, Grandmaster Flash finished fifth this year among all eligible nominees to be inducted. The others were R.E.M, VanHalen, The Ronettes, and Patti Smith. However, after all ballots were tallied a few days later, the Dave Clark Five got more than Grandmaster Flash.
Jann Wenner, Publisher of Rolling Stone and Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, ignored the final tally. Grandmaster Flash got in. The DC5 didn’t.
According to a source within the foundation, as Roger Friedman of Fox News reported, Wenner was asked to go ahead and induct six new members into the Hall of Fame. He didn’t. His reason? There wouldn’t be time during the ceremony to honor six new inductees because he wanted Aretha Franklin to perform in honor of Ahmet Ertegun, the late founder of Atlantic Records and Wenner’s predecessor as foundation chair.
Then why did he dismiss the results clearly electing the DC5?
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five now have the distinction of being the first hip-hop performers inducted into the hall. And good for them. To be honest, the DC5 was just one other British Invasion band that didn’t have the same kind of longevity or success as, say, The Who or The Kinks. . .in this nation, at least. My mom liked them, though. She bought a greatest hits record of theirs in 1966. I liked what I heard on it, too, but it always became a second or third choice of records to play. First on the spindle whenever I listened to records: The Beatles. Or Herb Alpert.
But the DC5 made some pretty raw-sounding stuff: the thrash guitars and floor-to-ceiling reverb on “Any Way You Want It,” the pub-floor stomping driving “Bits and Pieces,” and the most heartbreaking harmonies ever burned onto mylar on “Because,” a song that could easily be performed by a barbershop quartet, its harmonies unaltered. It probably missed it chance to be a prom theme.
Clearly, though, voting members chose the DC5 for a spot in the hall. But Wenner overrode the ballots and gave it Grandmaster Flash.
This reminds me of the film Ghost World, where the girl who was smashed up in a car accident and had to be wheeled to her graduation ceremony so she could be the class valedictorian, a distinction she didn’t earn. And as we learn from the two main characters, she was driving drunk and doped up when she had the accident. Wenner had a decision to make: grant the honor to the first hip-hop act who will be the first to ever receive it, or give it to the British pop band that had the most votes.
Put another way: award special circumstances or the majority results of a balloting process.
To be continued. . .