“I had to go for a walk when I heard the news,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told Rolling Stone. “We’re in incredible company and I’m still trying to make sense of this. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has always held something special for me because my heroes were in there. This is a great time for us to sort of reflect and look back with gratitude.”
Ringo Starr will be honored with the Award for Musical Excellence – he was inducted with the Beatles in 1988 – and the “5” Royales, a North Carolina R&B band that combined gospel, doo-wop and jump blues, will be honored with the Early Influence Award.
Half the inductions will be posthumous: Paul Butterfield died in 1987, Vaughan in 1990, and Reed just last year. Reed was inducted with the Velvet Underground in 1996.
Bill Withers, perhaps best known for “Lean on Me,” “Use Me,” “Just the Two of Us” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” told Rolling Stone he would consider playing at the induction in April. Withers, 76, couldn’t remember the last time he played a concert and he hasn’t released new music since 1985. But maybe he’s still got it.
“Of course I want to play,” he told Andy Greene. “We can get into ‘want to’s.’ I want to pose nude in Playboy magazine if they still have one. I want to walk around with my shirt off, oiled-up on a hot day and making women’s socks roll up and down. There are some people that can sing in their later years and some of them that can’t. I don’t want to be on of those old guys that sounds like a gerbil trying to give birth to a hippopotamus. So, we’ll see. Now you’ve got me all motivated. Now, I’ve gotta see if I can’t conjure it up.”
The voting body of artists, music executives and journalists is still struggling with the idea of honoring disco musicians, as there are still a significant number who are sour on the genre as whole. As the New York Times’ Ben Sisario noted, Chic, which has been nominated for the past nine years, still failed to get in. Wrote Sisario:
After Donna Summer died in 2012, for example, Jon Landau, the chairman of the hall’s nominating committee, took the unusual step of publicly rebuking the full voting assembly, saying that they had repeatedly “failed to recognize her”; Ms. Summer was promptly inducted in 2013, The time had finally seemed right for Chic, given Mr. Rodgers’s extraordinary success lately, particularly the three Grammy Awards he won earlier this year as a collaborator on Daft Punk’s album “Random Access Memories.” (Mr. Edwards died in 1996.) There is no limit in the number of times an act can be nominated, so perhaps the fight can start all over again next year.
Among those eligible that did not make the cut: Sting (already inducted as a member of the Police), the Marvelettes, Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A, the Smiths, the Spinners and War.
It’s practically impossible to mention Jett and the Blackhearts getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without mentioning “I Love Rock and Roll.” It’s unnatural right. So there, it’s mentioned. But Jett is so much more than one iconic rock anthem, and it bears reminding that she absolutely killed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” performing with the remaining members of Nirvana last year.
Check out the work of this year’s honorees: