The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2018. The Moody Blues, the Cars, Bon Jovi, the Dire Straits, and Nina Simone will all head to Cleveland’s Public Hall on April 14th, 2018 for the induction. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be given an Early Influence award. The induction will air at a later date on HBO, and be broadcast on SiriusXM. Ticket details will be announced in the near future.
Bands and artists must have released its first recording at least 25 years prior to the year of induction in order to be eligible for the Rock Hall. Ballots are sent to a group of over 1,000 artists, historians and music-industry professionals. Kate Bush, Depeche Mode, the Eurythmics, the J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Link Wray and the Zombies were nominated this year, but didn’t get the votes. Spurred on by millions of Karaoke performers, Bon Jovi topped the fan balloting with 1.16 million votes. Classical rock band The Moody Blues came in second with 947,000 fan votes. The Dire Straits pulled in 613,000. The Cars pumped 552,000 votes from fans.
The Moody Blues
“How is it we are here,” prog rockers The Moody Blues might ask. And while we never get an answer, come of the deciding factors are that the band started as an R&B band that played the same Hamburg, Germany, stages as the early Beatles, and went on to test the sounds of stereo with their orchestral rock album Days of Future Passed, and its hit “Nights in White Satin.”
“Formed in 1964, the Moody Blues quickly rose to fame as a R&B based rock band, and within the year they had scored their first hit single in the U.K., “Go Now.” What happened next is one of the all-time great transformations in rock and roll history,” reads the Rock Hall bio.
“With the formation of the classic lineup in 1966, featuring Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, John Lodge and Justin Hayward, the band worked with producer Tony Clarke to record the landmark concept album Days Of Future Passed. The record mixed symphonic orchestrations with a psychedelic rock band singing soaring melodies, spawned the hit single “Nights In White Satin,” and is considered one of the very first progressive rock albums.
This new sound influenced an entire generation of musicians, including Yes and Genesis. Throughout the adventurous explorations of the next nine albums, the Moody Blues produced numerous hit songs that became staples of FM radio.
In 1986, the Moody Blues teamed with veteran producer Tony Visconti to record The Other Side Of Life, and their innovative use of synthesizer timbres and textures opened up a new sonic palette to explore. The album yielded the top 10 hit “Your Wildest Dreams,” and the band suddenly had a new teenage fan base watching on MTV.
In 2013, a Rolling Stone reader poll listed the Moody Blues as one of the top 10 bands that need to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So, whether you are a fan of progressive rock Moodies from the 1960s, the band’s synthesizer-driven rock sounds of the 1980s, or have recently seen them playing for multiple generations of rock and roll fans, one thing is clear – the Moody Blues have created more than 50 years of exhilarating and significant music. ”
“Go Now,” The Magnificent Moodies (1965) • “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights In White Satin (The Night),” Days Of Future Passed (1967) • “Ride My See-Saw,” In Search Of The Lost Chord (1968) • “The Voyage,” On The Threshold Of A Dream (1969) • “Question,” A Question Of Balance (1970) • “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band),” Seventh Sojourn (1972) • “The Voice,” Long Distance Voyager (1981) • “Your Wildest Dreams,” “The Other Side Of Life,” The Other Side Of Life (1986) • “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” Sur La Mer (1988) • A Night At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony Orchestra (1992)
The Rock Hall declares The Cars are “Just What I Needed.” Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson will also be in Cleveland to let the “Good Times Roll.”
“Founded in Boston in 1976 by singer-guitarist-songwriter Ric Ocasek and singer-bassist Benjamin Orr, the Cars were the ultimate New Wave dream machine: a hook-savvy super-charged quintet that fused 60s pop, 70s glam and avant-rock minimalism into a decade of dashboard-radio nirvana,” reads the official Rock Hall bio.
“Their epic ride of 13 Top 40 singles across six classic studio albums – including four straight Top 10 LPs – drove the fury and intellectual adventure of punk rock out of the underground, firmly and forever into the American mainstream. Former hippie-folk compatriots, Ocasek and Orr were a natural yin-yang; Orr polished the terse, melodic grip and experimental vigor in Ocasek’s songs with vocal-dreamboat magnetism. Guitarist Elliot Easton’s rockabilly and surf-rock flourishes, Greg Hawkes’ ingenious keyboard science and drummer David Robinson’s futurist-Charlie Watts backbeat completed the design, already honed to maximum appeal on the Cars’ 1978 self-titled debut album. That record’s first three tracks, “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed,” were all hit singles. Heartbeat City was the Cars’ commercial apex, a Number 3 album that featured the ravishing ballad, “Drive,” sung by Orr with broken-heart perfection.
The group broke up in the late 80s. But the Cars’ visionary bravado was evident in the 90s alternative-rock boom. Nirvana played “My Best Friend’s Girl” at their last-ever show in 1994, while Ocasek became a producer-of-choice for younger bands such as Weezer and Bad Religion. Orr’s death in 2000 seemed to end any hope for a Cars reunion – until 2011, when the surviving members issued Move Like This, a new studio album that proved the Cars always sound like this year’s model, in every decade.”
“Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Just What I Needed,” The Cars (1978) • “Let’s Go,” “It’s All I Can Do,” Candy-O (1979) • “Touch And Go,” Panorama (1980) • “Since You’re Gone,” Shake It Up (1981) • “Magic,” “Drive,” Heartbeat City (1984) • Move Like This (2011)
That’s the way to do it. The Dire Straits got in without too much sweat cos we all know Mark Knopfler ain’t working to get his music on HBO.
“Their common touch was evident in their first hit single from 1978, Sultans Of Swing, which described with affection a group of musicians who play for the love of the sound they ensemble rather than fame or fortune,” reads the official Rock Hall Bio.
“Counterpointed with Knopfler’s stinging, uniquely melodic, and clean-edged guitar, Dire Straits stood in direct contrast to the punk rock enveloping London at the time; and they would refine their aspirations continually until the landmark 1985 Brothers In Arms. Capturing the MTV cultural moment with “Money For Nothing,” simultaneously satirical and yet open-hearted to how the public perceives a musician, or sympathetically illuminating the sibling warfare and unlikely hard-won battlefield camaraderie of quarreling nations that scars our times in the title track, Dire Straits – and later, Knopfler’s solo career – presented a music that never shied from the complexities of the human relationship, or the soaring guitar solos that give us the will to rise above such potentially divisive conflicts.
With a universally acknowledged virtuoso musician, lyrically ornate and emotionally charged, Dire Straits set a standard of excellence and achievement that continues to resonate, a reputation that has only grown through the years. A band for all time.”
“Sultans Of Swing,” Dire Straits (1978) • “Lady Writer,” Communique (1979) • “Tunnel Of Love,” “Romeo And Juliet,” Making Movies (1980) • Love Over Gold (1982) • “Money For Nothing,” “Walk Of Life,” Brothers In Arms (1985) • On Every Street (1991)
Bon Jovi might seem like bad medicine for the Rock Hall, but their fans were livin’ on a prayer that they’d get in dead or alive.
“Hard-working musicians and prolific songwriters from blue-collar backgrounds in New Jersey, musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres and Alec John Such created a dedicated global following that spans every continent,” reads the official Rock Hall Bio.
“Along the way, they have carved out a place on the charts with their most familiar songs – “You Give Love A Bad Name,” “Livin’ On A Prayer,” “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There For You” in the ’80s; “Blaze Of Glory,” “Bed Of Roses” and “Always” in the ’90s; “It’s My Life,” “Have A Nice Day,” the Grammy-winning “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “We Weren’t Born To Follow” in the 2000’s.
Beyond the numbers – over 120 million albums sold, more than 2,600 concerts performed in over 50 countries for more than 34 million fans, including 2017This House Is Not For Sale tour – there is also Bon Jovi’s enormous influence on innumerable young bands seeking to follow in their footsteps.
Despite personnel changes over the years, Bon Jovi steadfastly follows their own instincts, ignoring obvious trends and providing a model for other bands and musicians just starting out on their careers.”
Bon Jovi (1984) • 7800° Fahrenheit (1985) • “You Give Love A Bad Name,” “Livin’ On A Prayer,” Slippery When Wet (1986) • “Wanted Dead Or Alive” (1987) • “Bad Medicine,” “Born To Be My Baby,” New Jersey (1988) • “I’ll Be There For You” (1989) • Keep The Faith (1992) • “Bed Of Roses” (1993) • “Always” (1994) • “This Ain’t A Love Song,” These Days (1995) • “It’s My Life,” Crush (2000) • Bounce (2002) • “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” Have A Nice Day (2005) • “(You Want To) Make A Memory,” Lost Highway (2007) • “We Weren’t Born To Follow” (2009)
Nina Simone is as comfortable crooning jazz or calling for justice as a protesting folk singer. “Mississippi Goddamn,” she sang as she toured the segregated south and gave voice to the Civil Rights movement. But the “High Priestess of Soul” moves the spirit.
“’Nina could sing anything, period,’” Mary J. Blige told Rolling Stone when the magazine named Nina Simone one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time,” reads the Rock Hall Bio.
“And in some ways, that astonishing, unclassifiable range has made it especially difficult to assess Simone’s legacy – often considered a jazz singer (particularly because of her masterful piano playing), she was classically trained, yet her nickname was “The High Priestess of Soul.”
If anything, she claimed that she was a folk singer, and her dazzling repertoire – Israeli folk tunes, compositions by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, songs by the Bee Gees and Leonard Cohen and George Harrison, traditional ballads, spirituals, children’s songs – remains unparalleled.”
Simone’s music provided the true soundtrack to the civil rights movement, and her inspiration as an artist and an activist has been celebrated by Lauryn Hill, Kanye West (who has frequently sampled her work), John Legend, Common, and Alicia Keys, who once wrote that “she made me want to live life, learn and experience it earnestly and use my voice to say SOMETHING!”
Simone’s groundbreaking compositions like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” defined a songwriting voice that was proudly, defiantly black and female. Her radical rearrangements of other songs have been covered by everyone from George Michael to the Animals, Whitney Houston to Jeff Buckley. An icon whose tortured life was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, Nina Simone was a unique creative force. “She was an overwhelming artist, piano player, and singer,’ said Bob Dylan. ‘Very outspoken and dynamite to see perform…the kind of artist that I loved and admired.’”
Nina Simone In Concert (1964) • Pastel Blues, I Put A Spell On You (1965) • “Four Women” (1966) • “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” Nina Simone Sings The Blues (1967) • “(To Be) Young, Gifted And Black” (1970)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Early Influencer Sister Rosetta Tharpe helped shape Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. The “Godmother of Rock and Roll” first plugged her Gibson SG guitar into the studio amps in 1938 when she recorded “Rock Me.” She rocked everyone else who saw her sizzling live shows from that moment on.
“Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of the essential figures in the history of rock and roll,” reads the Rock Hall Bio.
“If she had not been there as a model and inspiration, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock originators would have had different careers. No one deserves more to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“Sister Rosetta became famous in 1938 with a record called “Rock Me.” She was a star through the 1940’s, a black woman singing gospel music to the accompaniment of her own driving electric guitar – howling and stamping. Her 1945 recording “Strange Things Happening Every Day” has been credited as the first gospel song to cross over to the “race” (later called “R&B”) charts – reaching Number Two and becoming an early model for rock and roll.
She was a sensation, selling out arenas into the 1950’s. In 1947, Sister Rosetta was the first person to put a 14-year-old boy named Little Richard Penniman on a stage. It changed Little Richard’s life – he decided right then to become a performer.
In 1951, twenty-five thousand fans paid to attend her on-stage wedding at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC. She was the hottest act on stage with a guitar. She became a model for Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash called her his favorite singer and biggest inspiration.
By the early Sixties the musical revolution she inspired had forgotten her – so Sister Rosetta went to England and played electric guitar for the young blues fans of London and Liverpool. Without Sister Rosetta Tharpe, rock and roll would be a different music. She is the founding mother who gave rock’s founding fathers the idea.”
“Rock Me,” “That’s All,” “The Lonesome Road” • (1938) “Shout, Sister, Shout!” • (1942) “Strange Things Happening Every Day” (1945) • “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (1949) • Gospel Train (1956) • Sister On Tour (1961)
The Rock Hall induction happens at Cleveland’s Public Hall on April 14th, 2018. It will air on HBO at a later date. Ticket details will be announced in the near future.