The Hollies, ABBA, Genesis and songwriting icons Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Otis Blackwell are being honored at tonight’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Yet, a number of standout artists, writers and producers of the ’60s and ’70s have yet to receive one of rock’s highest career honors. Some of the top artists still waiting for the call from the Hall include
The Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night, Tommy James and the Shondells and Blood, Sweat and Tears.
- Chicago, with a resume boasting 20 Top 10 hits, is the most glaring omission. The jazz-rock innovators may be the victims of their increasing emphasis on pop ballads over innovation during the late ’70s and ’80s.
- The Doobies turned away from country rock and embraced a more soulful — and commercially successful — sound once Michael McDonald became their frontman.
- Tommy James and the Shondells are blamed by some for being too “bubblegum,” yet “Mony, Mony” ranks with “Louie, Louie” and “Shout” among the most enduringly popular party songs. And his self-penned “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Crimson and Clover” were certainly closer to the cutting edge than the mainstream in their time, with some high-tech and electronic effects that were as edgy as anyone’s in the late ’60s. And the upcoming movie based on Tommy’s autobiography Me, the Mob and the Music is certain to keep his career in the spotlight.
- Though they don’t have quite as big a following as Chicago or the Doobies, The Guess Who were the first important Canadian act to win a following in the U-S and Europe. “American Woman,” their biggest U-S single, has been covered by several important artists the last two decades.
- A case can be made for The Monkees — and their innovative use of video and comedy to back their music. Brian Wilson is among those said to support the made-for-T-V band’s cause.
- Two icons of rock’s first decade, Paul Anka and Connie Francis, have also been left behind. Their impact on the pre-Beatles era seems to have been minimized by the distance of time, and in Anka’s case, by his “teen idol” status. Francis is the first lady of rock’s first decade. 15 Top 10 hits and 26 Ed Sullivan Show appearances say a lot. She certainly paved the way for Diana Ross and Madonna.
- Other acts with huge historical impact that deserve consideration:
- Hall and Oates are the biggest-selling duo of all time and one of the top hit-makers from the mid-’70s through the mid-’80s. Already inductees of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the duo will be honored this spring as B-M-I Icons.
- Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist” remains the most important and successful dance record of all time. And in the years between Buddy Holly’s death and the Beatles arrival, he was a constant chart presence.
- The Moody Blues and E-L-O infused rock with classical influences and changed the sound of music in the ’70s.
- America is one of few self-contained folk-influenced harmony bands of the ’70s not to be honored.
- Tom Jones‘ baritone remains strong after four decades of stardom, and he remains both a concert mainstay and a popular recording artist in Britain.
- Sonny and Cher have long been overlooked. Forget his comic image — Sonny Bono was one of rock’s brightest minds. He’s the writer-producer who penned their material and crafted their image. She is the most enduring female vocalist of the rock era. Perhaps Bono’s later-in-life career as a right-wing politician is being held against him.
- Linda Ronstadt was the most popular female solo artist of the ’70s. Since then, she has explored and embraced other musical styles.
- Carly Simon rivaled Ronstadt as the First Lady of Rock during the ’70s. And unlike Linda, Carly wrote much of her own material, including the iconic “You’re So Vain.”
- With producers and composers again being honored with the Ahmet Ertegun Award, the absence of Burt Bacharach and Hal David — who gave Gene Pitney and Dusty Springfield many of the songs that paved their way to the Hall a few years ago, not to mention their prolific association with Dionne Warwick— is glaring. Now that fellow Brill Building writing teams of Jeff and Ellie and Mann and Weil are being inducted, Bacharach and David deserve similar props.
CLICK HERE to head to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website.