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The Rock and Roll

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland Ohio, is dedicated to recognizing and enshrining the most influential figures in the history of rock and roll. Not reserved for only the performers themselves, the Hall of Fame also awards non-performers such as producers, songwriters, disc jockeys, music industry executives journalists, and others who have in some way heavily influenced the music industry. The Hall of Fames has annually inducted individuals for their contributions to rock and roll since January 23, 1986.

The categories for which people are recognized are Performers, Non-Performers, Early Influences, which include those artists who were in some way instrumental in the evolution of rock and roll as it is today, and Sidemen, who, nominated by a committee of producers, include veteran session and concert players. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) The city of Cleveland was only one of many sites being considered to house the museum. The city was chosen after a petition drive, driven by 600,000 signatures and a USA Today poll, in which Cleveland won by 100,000 votes.

In large part, it was the Cleveland area disc jockey Alan Freed who help the city cement its bid to become the home for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is Freed who is credited with developing the term “rock and roll” and doing much to promote the new sound, leading to its acceptance as a legitimate genre of music. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) There has been much debate as to the validity of the nominating process for entry into the Hall of Fame. The criticism has been raised that of those inducted are American or British artist’s and that there are many Canadian’s who are well – qualified.

It has been especially those artists in the progressive and heavy metal genres that have voiced concern that those worthy of acceptance are being looked over in favor of more mainstream and well – known acts. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) It has not been until this year that these concerns seemed to have been finally addressed. With the nomination and induction of acts such as Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd, fans of these genres of rock and roll can rest easier, as acceptance of the music seems to have reached the mainstream.

And although the Sex Pistols rebuffed their nomination to the Hall of Fame on their website, in which they wrote “Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkeys. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. You’re anonymous as judges but your still music industry people. We’re not coming. You’re not paying attention. Outside the shit-stream is a real Sex Pistol,” it shows that even those bands on the fringes of the music industry, and society itself, can and do get nominated.

(Official Announcement) Candidates for induction into the Hall of Fame must be nominated by a group of “music historians. ” This group of 75 journalists and music executives, narrow the decision down on who is to be nominated so that a group of voters, approximately 1000 people from the music industry, can make the final decision. (Aswad) These are the “anonymous judges” the Sex Pistols were railing about. The artist’s nominated must have had their first album released no less than 25 years to be eligible for induction.

The artist’s that meet this criteria are then judged on the basis of “the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. ” (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) There are many artist’s who are seemingly qualified yet have not been nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame. Consider the case of John Mellencamp. John Mellencamp was born October 7, 1952 in Seymour, Indiana. At the time, Seymour was an industrial town.

It was both one of the most polluted cities in the country and had the highest per capita murder rate of any city in the nation. He grew to be a rebellious youth that did not fit in with the people of the area. He had a constant disdain for authority and got into many fights. When John was 18, he eloped with his 23-year – old girlfriend and moved to Kentucky. It was this same year that John joined his first band. In 1975, after refusing to get a job and finally being kicked out of his in-laws house, he moved to New York to begin his musical career. (Bronson 560)

It was in New York that John met a music manager named Tony DeFries. DeFries was popular at the time for representing David Bowie. It was DeFries that attempted to persuade John to change his name to Johnny “Cougar,” and although the name stuck for many years, John later said that the change was without his permission and against his will. (John Mellencamp) After the unsuccessful release of his first album, Chestnut Street Incident, John was dropped from his label and set on his own. It was then that he met Billy Gaff, Rod Stewart’s then – manager.

Under Gaff, and Gaff’s label Riva Records, John released The Kid Inside and The Early Years. At this time, John was showing definite influences of The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. But it was during this time that John finally hit the Top 100 with his song “I Need a Lover. ” And with his other single’s “This Time,” in 1980 and “Ain’t Even Done With the Night,” in 1981, his success as a musician began to blossom. (Brackett et al 536-537) It was in 1982 that John Mellencamp cemented his place in the history of rock and roll.

With the album American Fool, he was skyrocketed to stardom. “Hurts So Good” was the first single to come off the album and the first single for Mellencamp to enter into the Billboard Top Ten. Then, when the song had reached the number 3 spot, his second single “Jack and Diane” entered the charts at number 69. “Hurts So Good,” after reaching all the way to number 2 and remaining there for four weeks, finally slipped to number eight, yet not until “Jack and Diane” reached the number four spot, giving John two singles in the top 10.

In the week of October 2, 1982, “Jack and Diane” took its place at the number one spot, becoming the most popular song John had written. Although he has had many singles break the top 10, no song has faired as well as “Jack and Diane. ” (Bronson 560) With his new found popularity, John became an instigator for social change. Having held liberal views for all of his life, he became one of the principle founders of Farm Aid. On September 22, 1985, in a small town in Illinois, a benefit concert organized by John and Willie Nelson was held in solidarity with small, family farmers.

It was hoped that the concert would raise money and awareness of the modern problems faced by small farmers. In 1987, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp brought a group of family farmers before Congress to testify about their situations, resulting in the passage of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, helping to save family farms from foreclosure. Farm Aid is now a nationally recognized organization, whose board of directors includes Nelson, Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews, and still holds benefit concerts annually. (Farm Aid)

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