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10 Who Should Be In The Rock and Roll Hall

The author says these artists ought to be shoo-ins. What’s your vote?


No sooner did the curtain go up on this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees than debate began over who’s been overlooked. There’s even a robust website on the topic  — its creators put a committee together to name the top 250 artists who deserve to be enshrined in Cleveland, or at least considered.

Such is the conundrum of musical taste and popularity contests and cultural significance. While my own work on the power of the music of the Vietnam era highlights its ability to bring people together and to heal, I’m gonna throw gasoline on the fire anyway.

Here, in no particular order, are my recommendations for boomer Rock and Roll Hall of Fame consideration. Feel free to make your own suggestions or argue with mine in the comments section below.

(MORE: The 15 Songs That Defined the Boomer Generation)

Mary Wells

Rationale:

The “Queen of Motown” until she left the label in 1964, Mary Wells had hit after hit after hit in the 1960s, and she’s not in? Holy Berry Gordy!

Best Known Single:

My Guy (1964) leads a long, illustrious list. My personal favorite is her killer rendition of Bye, Bye, Baby recorded when she was just 17.

Contribution/Legacy:

Mary Wells was instrumental in identifying the early Motown sound of the 1960s. One of the label’s first singing superstars, she helped bridge the color lines in music at the time, bringing her sound onto mainstream radio stations across America.

Chuck Willis

Rationale:

He’s lesser-known but represents an important bridge between Rhythm & Blues and soul. Heck, Chuck was nominated five consecutive years from 1986 to 1990, so let the poor guy in.

Best Known Single:

C.C. Rider, one of the best classic rock ’n’ roll songs ever.

Contribution/Legacy:

Willis and C.C. Rider popularized a trendy dance called The Stroll, brought New Orleans Soul (i.e., Fats Domino) north and popularized the blues standard for multiple generations of rockers.

(MORE: 15 More Songs That Defined the Boomer Generation)

The Marvelettes

Rationale:

After The Miracles, they were the most successful Motown act and the label’s first highly successful girl group, leading the way for The Supremes and Martha and The Vandellas, among others.

Best Known Single:

My older brother still loves their 1961 No. 1 hit, Please Mr. Postman, but I have soft spots for Forever and Don’t Mess with Bill.

Contribution/Legacy:

Talk about chops — Please Mr. Postman was one of the first No. 1 singles by an all-female vocal group and the initial No. 1 hit by a Motown recording act.

Ben E. King

Rationale:

Three words — Stand by Me.

Best Known Single:

See above. Spanish Harlem ain’t bad either.

Contribution/Legacy:

While he’s in The Hall as a member of the Drifters, Ben E. King most certainly deserves a place as a solo artist. One of the smoothest, most sophisticated voices of all time, he achieved five No. 1 hits during his career as a Drifter and solo artist. Both Stand By Me and Spanish Harlem are included among The Hall of Fame’s 500 songs that shaped rock ‘n’ roll.

The Shangri-Las

Rationale:

I’m probably on my own with this one, but for me their “tough girl” persona, streetwise image and teenage harmonies reminded me of a lot of the cooler girls I grew up with in inner-city Philly in the 1950s.

Best Known Single:

Leader of the Pack, but I prefer Remember (Walking in the Sand).

Contribution/Legacy:

They were so young and were such a stark contrast from the other “girl groups” of the 1960s. And very, very influential — 1970s rockers like Blondie, The New York Dolls and even Aerosmith have cited their impact.

Junior Walker & The All-Stars

Rationale:

Motown’s highly skilled instrumentalists were usually anonymous and rarely, if ever, stepped out on their own. The lone exception to the rule was the great tenor sax musician Junior Walker.

Best Known Single:

Shotgun made a name for Junior and his group, but What Does It Take is my personal favorite.

Contribution/Legacy:

Take your pick — bridging jump blues (Louis Jordan and Illinois Jacquet) to R&B; the raunchy energy of Walker’s sax playing; his raspy, untrained voice; lots of danceable, party tunes or all of the above?

(MORE: The Soundtrack of Your Life)

The Monkees

Rationale:

Although steeped in controversy, The Monkees pioneered the music video format, paved the way for almost every boy band that followed, set the stage for future teen idols and recorded some very, very good music.

Best Known Single:

Take your pick — Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, Daydream Believer or Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Contribution/Legacy:

From pop stardom to New Hollywood cinema to punk rock and more, The Monkees have been enormously influential.

The Guess Who

Rationale:

Why is Rush the only Canadian band in The Rock Hall? Surely, the Guess Who and their several Top 40 hit singles of 1969-70 deserve to be included. Oh Canada!

Best Known Single:

These Eyes might have been their first hit, but American Woman is undoubtedly their best song.

Contribution/Legacy:

Superstars in their home country of Canada during the 1960s and early ’70s, The Guess Who spawned additional great music by keyboardist/vocalist Burton Cummings and lead guitarist Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The Doobie Brothers

Rationale:

They span five decades and have an incredible list of gold and platinum albums and Top 40 hits. And they did a benefit concert for the Vietnam Veterans Aid Foundation at the Hollywood Bowl in 1987 that was the fastest show to sell out there since The Beatles played in the mid-1960s.

Best Known Single:

Choose among Listen to the Music, Black Water, China Grove, Takin’ It to The Streets or What A Fool Believes.

Contribution/Legacy:

The Doobies evolved from a late ‘60s/early ‘70s leather jacket- and motorcycle-supported Hell’s Angels’ favorite group to a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, soul-inflected pop band in less than a decade.

War

Rationale:

No band better exemplifies America as a “melting pot” that than this multi-ethnic California group, which fused elements of rock, funk, soul, jazz, R&B, Latin and Reggae.

Best Known Single:

Low Rider, although the message of Why Can’t We Be Friends? still resonates.

Contribution/Legacy:

A unique, multi-cultural sound that’s sampled and recorded by many singers and groups, including Janet Jackson, Korn, TLC and ASAP Mob.

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