By: Roger Friedman // Sunday January 3, 2010
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is considering a move not unlike “Desperate Housewives.”
In fact, you might call Jann Wenner the “desperate despot” of rock.
Sources tell me that Wenner is considering doing exactly what the TV show did a couple of years ago — jump ahead five years.
Currently, the RRHOF charter says that in order to be inducted, a band or act isn’t eligible until 25 years have passed since its first record release.
But now that popular music has passed into its retirement, the number of possible new inductees has thinned considerably. This winter, the Hall will induct Genesis, the Hollies, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Jimmy Cliff and ABBA. They’ve all been the on the ballot for a long time and have finally made it mostly because the choices are diminishing.
I’m told that Wenner has looked at the next group of possible inductees, for 2011, and it’s not good: The only superstar who’s had a major career and influenced rock and roll is Sting. Otherwise, the perfectly nice but not exactly big game changers are ‘Til Tuesday, Chris Isaak, Suzanne Vega and Simply Red.
Of course, Wenner could do what many consider the right thing and induct the many missing names from Chubby Checker, Billy Preston and Mary Wells to Chicago, the Moody Blues, Todd Rundgren, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Carole King, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Rufus & Carla Thomas and so many more it’s hard to list them. But that’s unlikely.
The new idea is to change the charter so that it only takes 20 years to get in. That would move up a lot of acts on the ballot that are more current and carry some name value, which would be good for TV rights. Believe it or not, the following would then be eligible for the 2011 ceremony: Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Kid Rock and Smashing Pumpkins. Also a possibility right away: Keith Richards as a solo artist.
The fear, of course, is that with these new guidelines, the artists who’ve been snubbed previously will now never get in. Of course, one other solution would be just to shut the doors, stop inductions entirely and make the annual dinner a revisit of inductees. But TV doesn’t want Nursing Home Rock, so Wenner — who has no one to stop him — will probably not do that either.