I see where the circus has come to town again. Or rather, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, kissing its own ass last night at the Waldorf-Astoria with every appearance of enjoyment.
I’m not sure rock & roll should really even have
a Hall of Fame. For one thing, it’s totally counter to everything rock is all about. For another, it’s not exactly a model of purity and disinterest and excellent choices. For yet another, it’s just wrong
I’m by no means the only old rocker who feels so: I believe it was the ineffable Iggy Pop formerly Iggy Stooge né James Osterberg who said that anything calling itself a rock Hall of Fame needed someone to lob a brick through its fancypants windows. And he’s quite correct to say so.
As for this particular intake: I was very pleased to see Patti Smith inducted, but very cross indeed that her wonderful band, including my old friend Lenny Kaye, was not inducted with her (though they did join her onstage last night to play). What, did they think she plays all those instruments herself? The name is the Patti Smith GROUP, after all. Eejits.
Not to mention how the eejits continually deny admittance to people like the Hollies, Connie Francis, Jeff Beck, the Moody Blues, the Searchers, Chubby Checker, Dick Dale, Linda Ronstadt, the Monkees (yes! Great Goffin-King songs, and they did learn to play in the end) and the Turtles. While allowing in the likes of Grandmaster Flash. Oh please. He not only doesn’t play rock, he doesn’t even play music. (More on my implacable hatred of rap at a future date.)
But the Hall has a long history of unaccountable (or perhaps very accountable, if you count all those drugs all its voters probably did back in the day) idiocy.
When the Doors were inducted, the year after my book “Strange Days” was published, not only did I never entertain the smallest teensiest micro-hope ever
, of course, of being asked to accept for Jim (his sister Anne did that, which was fine), but I wasn’t even invited just to be
And I’m told that Eddie Vedder did a fine workmanlike and unimitative job on Jim’s vocals.
But being the kind of person that I am, I did, however, send a dozen roses of congratulation to the three Doors.
From me and
Jim—being the kind of person that I am.
And, still being the kind of person that I am, I also wrote the then-curator of the Hall a joyfully sulphurous letter, expressing not only my displeasure but meanly and specifically detailing all the Morrison goodies the Hall wasn’t ever, ever going to get because of its insult:
Handwritten poems, none of them part of the published canon, and some of them Very Hot Stuff indeed (well, sure, ’cause he wrote them for ME! One British journalist allowed to see a few used the words “jaw-droppingly erotic” in the full-page story she subsequently wrote about the poems. Most gratifying.).
His drawings of me nude, of us together—some in a classical portraiture style, some charmingly Picassoesque.
Unpublished songs (including extra lyrics we collaboratively wrote for “People Are Strange”).
Our wedding rings.
My copies of his privately published books.
A complete Jazz & Pop magazine archive.
Buncha other stuff.
(Which, by the way, is ALL safe and sound and secure in the vault at the bank. Especially the Jim stuff.)
And it's cool
stuff. And they're NOT getting it.
I still haven’t decided what to ultimately do with the stash. I might lend or give the things to some other museum, maybe that one in Seattle that that Microsoft guy established (Seattle being much cooler than Cleveland, and in spite of the museum’s nauseating Gehry architecture, which I detest), or to UCLA or my own alma maters.
My natural selfish inclination is to destroy it all, especially the very personal items (MINE! Jim gave ME! Not you!), though I’ll probably give Jim’s brother, Andy, a couple of things, and let my nieces and nephew and friends keep most of the rest. It’s all mine anyway, at least by Jim’s gift, though some vile scumbags dispute the provenance or even existence. In which case they don’t deserve to see it, much less have it.
I can’t publish the poems and songs and drawings in any case: thank you SO much, Sonny Bono, for bending over for Disney and pushing through a copyright law that extends the term after death from 50 to 70 years.
Fifty years I thought I had a hope of seeing. But now this absolutely amazing stuff will probably have to go unseen by the public, and this side of Jim be unknown forever.
(One small star of hope: a few lines Jim sent with some of the poems saying that whatever I might care to someday do with them, it was okay with him. Which a generous court just might
construe as the “gift of copyright.” Despite the fact that all these things were pure gifts to me anyway. Whatevah.)
But I digress. What really got this rant started is something I read on the Web about all the non
-performers who’ve been kept out of the Hall, not just performers. The original much-ballyhooed idea was to have several influential offstage music-biz people—record execs, producers, journalists, photographers, album-art creators, et al.—inducted each year along with the musicians. A fine agenda, though in hindsight perhaps a disingenuous one.
Because this hasn’t really happened. The total number of non-performer inductees? Fewer than 40, in the whole lifespan of the Hall. Including Lifetime Achievement winners. And now the number of non-performers allowed each year is apparently officially down to a big old generous ONE. In all categories.
Oh, Ahmet Ertegun, Phil Spector, Mo Ostin, Clive Davis, songwriting team Gerry Goffin and Carole King, promoter Frank Barsalona, editor/publisher Jann Wenner (who’s been in bed, er, involved with the Hall from the first, as cofounder/vice-chairman and a member of the board of directors)—they and others of such stature have been allowed in, and quite correctly.
But Brian Epstein, discoverer and manager of the Beatles? No. Derek Taylor, publicist extraordinaire? No. Linda Eastman and Jim Marshall and Baron Wolman, the greatest photographers of the dawn years of rock? No. Jon Landau? No. Lester Bangs? Nope. Ralph J. Gleason or Robert Hilburn or Richard Goldstein or R. Meltzer or Greil Marcus—critics who did every bit as much for rock, in its early days, as any performer? Nuh-uh.
And, well, little old rocknroll me
, perhaps? Don’t be silly! Though I can surely be forgiven for thinking there’s at least a slightly more than infinitesimal case for consideration, me being one of the Founding Mothers of Rock Criticism, first female editor-in-chief of a national and well-respected magazine, and not a bad writer/critic as well, if I do say so myself. And so few women being around at all back then. Women who weren’t groupies, anyway.
(If I’m not mistaken, I was the only
woman in an e-in-c gig at a major pub; there were other woman editors around, but they were associate or contributing editor at the Village Voice, managing editor at Creem, like that; not editors in chief. And of course there was my publisher, Pauline Rivelli, founder of the mag as Jazz back in 1962 and having the smarts to change it to Jazz & Pop in 1967. No
other woman publishers in rock at the time.)
Though as MDF Steve, a future possible eligible candidate himself, points out, if rock journalists were to be included, as per the Hall’s own original premise, there might be a very real temptation by such writers to suck up to the Hall in hopes of being invited, as well as a very real risk of being punished with exclusion for daring to criticize the Hall and all its works and pomps. Either way, n.g.
Still, sportswriters are inducted into various sports Halls of Fame all the time. Drama critics have been honored with special Tonys, Broadway theaters have even been named for them. I’m just sayin’…
So I won’t be buying a ballgown for my RRHoF induction any time soon. It’s still a boy’s club, just as it was forty years ago.
And they still won’t be getting Jim’s stuff.