Rock and Roll Sabotage
Tonight in a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, Black Sabbath -- along with Blondie, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd and jazz icon Miles Davis -- will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands, I am understandably upset about this.
Here's why: I've never understood the significance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (hereafter to be referred to as "RRHOF" because I'm tired of typing it out). Sure, it's a nice gesture for the bands and makes for yet another thing to do when visiting Cleveland, but what exactly does inclusion in the RRHOF mean?
Not much if you ask one John Michael Osbourne who in 1999, exasperated at being passed over for so many years, demanded that Black Sabbath be removed from consideration for inclusion in the "totally irrelevant" institution. Oops. I guess both the RRHOF and Osbourne (aka Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy) had a change of heart.
But this change of heart, especially on the RRHOF's side, is exactly what is so mystifying and frustrating about the institution. While any band is eligible 25 years after the release of their first album, there appears to be no heirarchy for which bands should be inducted before others. For example, countless metal, garage and punk bands probably wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for Black Sabbath's influence to inspire them. For instance The Ramones, AC/DC and The Clash... all inducted before Black Sabbath.
(Note: I am exercising some restraint here and typing this parenthetical to let you know I could've used the above paragraph to ask instead why Billy Joel, Bob Seger, Prince, U2 and MICHAEL JACKSON were already inducted in the RRHOF. Not that they don't, ummm, totally rock, but I think my point really makes itself here.)
The Sex Pistols aren't that impressed with the honor, either. The band posted a statement on their Web site calling the RRHOF a "piss stain" and indicating in similar terms that they won't be attending the ceremony, which incidentally, costs $2,500 per person, though each inductee does get two free tickets.
Which is kind of a head scratcher... why are average fans pretty much excluded from attending? Maybe the same reason they aren't included in selecting the inductees (that honor goes to "700 rock experts" who know better than the fans: music historians, critics and past inductees).
Here's what I propose. If you're a fan of Black Sabbath, spend next Monday evening (when the ceremony will be broadcast on VH1) honoring Ozzy, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward by watching archival footage in one of the many Sabbath documentaries listed on Netflix or just listen to any of the original line-up's stellar albums.
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