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February 6, 2013

unHOF

unHOF

unHOF: THE PEOPLE’S HALL OF FAME

by Joseph J. Ramsey

We are the unHOF, the People’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame or, not really a Hall of Fame at all, but folks wanting to talk to people with great musical taste. Whatever we are, we want Jann Wenner (pronounced: YAWN) to stop using the words “Rock ‘n’ Roll” to describe his museum as we feel, with several ridiculous admission choices and omissions, he has lost the privilege to use that description.

Ever wonder how it could be possible that Steppenwolf, who actually coined the term “heavy metal” in rock music, is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? How about King Crimson, granddaddy of all prog bands and one of the most influential groups ever? Why not The Johnny Burnette Trio… creators of the blueprint for so many later rockabilly, blues and boogie bands and true pioneers of Rock ’n’ Roll?

Yeah… I wonder, too. As one of the proprietors of Berdan Records in Monrovia, CA, I often get into spirited discussions concerning these choices, or lack thereof. Who makes the decisions… who votes? That kind of thing. It is perplexing… at least to me. Many of my favorites aren’t in and every time they induct someone like Laura Nyro, Percy Sledge (or is it Percy Faith?) or Grandmaster Flash, it muddies the waters even further. I thought the name was The ROCK AND ROLL Hall of Fame… not folk, not songwriters, not rap… not there’s anything wrong with those things… they just aren’t R&R, y’know?

The MonkeesWhen Davy Jones of The Monkees died a few months ago, a letter was posted on the internet written by Peter Tork to head Hall of Fame curator, Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine, blasting him for the non-inclusion of The Monkees. The snub, said Tork, was all about a personal vendetta Wenner held against the group. Tork pointed out that several HOF groups, The Sex Pistols and RUN-DMC to name two, had covered Monkees tunes on their rise to fame. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. told Rolling Stone that they were more important to him than The Beatles, reportedly stating he would refuse an induction if it meant getting into the Hall of Fame before The Monkees. Of course, this turned out not to be the case as R.E.M. were inducted the following year. The Monkees are still waiting.

Seeing how so many people were upset with their choices, I thought it would be fun and informative to start a Facebook group with the idea that we would create our own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, in the bargain, a fascinating spot for music addicts to talk about their passion… and discover loads of new, old and unheard music to boot!

Our initial membership drive netted us over 500 members. I’m proud to boast that these are some of the most knowledgeable musical people on the planet: record collectors, journalists, authors, musicians… all are present and most bearing righteous indignation for what is being foisted upon the public in the name of Rock ’n’ Roll. In a delicious slice of irony, one of Rolling Stone’s best early writers, John Mendelssohn, did us the great honor of writing an induction for one of my favorite bands, The Move. Beautifully written as it was (of course!), I disagreed with a lot of what he said… but hey, that’s the uhHOF!

Our first induction on March 1, 2012, was a three-for-one: The Monkees, The MC5 and Steppenwolf. The Monkees and MC5 because original members had recently passed away without being honored (injustice!)… RIP Davey Jones and Michael Davis. Steppenwolf, because you can’t have any kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame without them. Period. Get your motor runnin’…

Next issue: Little Stevie Marriott (and his big, BIG voice!).

The unHOF is a living, breathing journal being constantly added to, remarked upon and discussed. You can join the fun here: facebook.com/groups/unhof/. All inductions are posted on the Berdan Records web site where comments are welcome. berdanrecords.com/pages/unhof-the-peoples-hall-of-fame.






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