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Rush and the long road to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Categories: Music

Rush What can explain the long delay in admitting Rush to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? (Canadian Press)

This year marks the first year fans will get to vote for who gets in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it's no coincidence that Canadian band Rush is on the long list of potential inductees for the first time. Rush has been eligible for nomination since 1998 under Hall of Fame rules that say a band must have a 25-year track record before it can be nominated. But until now, Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson have been snubbed by the Cleveland-based Hall of Fame.

In years previous, a group of musical experts, headed by Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner, decided who got in and who was left blowin' in the wind. Allowing fans to vote is a step in the right direction because it will allow acts to get inducted to the Hall who would not get in if it were left up to Wenner and his group of "experts." With music fans now getting their say in the induction process, you ought to be able to bet on Rush being part of the class of 2013.

Rush fans have long cried foul at the Rock Hall of Fame for leaving the band off its list of contenders. Now, the perfect solution has been presented. By allowing fans to vote, Rush fans will get the opportunity to see their heroes in the Hall of Fame, while the musical experts behind the Hall, especially the many influenced by Wenner, do not have to sacrifice their musical tastes and opinions. Rush may be the first band inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of fan groundswell.

Never the critics' darlings

Rush deserves to be in the Rock Hall regardless of whether it's the fans or the experts who vote for them. But Rush has never been the critics' darlings - in fact, progressive rock, the genre that Rush helped define, has long been pounded to the ground by critics - and especially Rolling Stone Magazine. Despite this, the band has been packing stadiums around the world tour after tour even with a lack of commercial radio play since the '80s. Rush fans have proven they are amongst the most loyal of rock fans. The Rock Hall must know it has alienated this large and loyal fan base with its annual snub of the band.

What's confounding about the new rule to allow fans to vote is that it only amounts to one of over 600 votes. Not a whole lot. However, if the fan vote goes unrecognized, the Hall's attempt to integrate fans in the voting process is all for naught. After all, what's the point of having a fan vote if it is going to be ignored? Yet if it does, the Rock Hall will prove once more that the opinions of the fans means a whole lot less than theirs and will again alienate a large group of rock and roll fans.

If Rush is elected into the Rock Hall next year, it will open the door for other bands that have been overlooked. Fans will get to vote for THEIR musical heroes, and will not be told by the experts of who to listen to and idolize. Bands like King Crimson, Genesis, and Yes will have a better shot of being "enshrined" in the Rock Hall, as well as artists from other genres often ignored like heavy metal and Top 40 acts.

Controversy over voting process

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting process has been the subject of controversy for a while. At the heart of problem is the influence of founder Jann Wenner, who is co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and one of the most respected voices in the world of music journalism. Wenner's nominating committee consists largely of his current and former employees from Rolling Stone (Nathan Brackett, David Fricke, Jim Henke, Joe Levy, Brian Keizer, Toure, and Anthony DeCurtis).

Fox News writer Roger Friedman alleges that back in 2007, Wenner changed a vote for the Dave Clark Five in order to induct rap act Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Friedman said Wenner had determined the Rock Hall should not go another year without a rap group in the mix. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five got inducted and the Dave Clark Five had to wait until the next year. In a sad twist of fate, lead singer Mike Smith died months before he got to see his name in the Hall.

The class of 2013 is a strong one. Legendary rap groups Public Enemy and N.W.A are up for nomination, and given the cultural impact both groups have had and the fact they are both loved by critics, both should be inducted. Now it's up to the fans to see Rush gains its rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

-- Thorstan Gerlach

CORRECTION: Oct. 4/12 2.30 p.m. The Dave Clark Five member who died before the group could be inducted was Mike Smith, not Dave Clark as was indicated in an earlier version of this story.

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