The nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 are:
- The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
- Green Day
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
- The Marvelettes
- Nine Inch Nails
- Lou Reed
- The Smiths
- The Spinners
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Bill Withers
“We are pleased to present this group of nominees, as they represent the myriad places where rock and roll converges with blues, electronic, dance, Motown, R&B, funk and other genres,” said Joel Peresman, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. “Rock and roll incorporates the styles of so many different kinds of music and that’s what makes this group of nominees – and this art form – so powerful and unique.”
To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2015 nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1989.
Ballots will be sent to an international voting body of more than 700 artists, historians and members of the music industry.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will again offer fans the opportunity to officially participate in the induction selection process. Beginning October 9, 2014, and continuing through December 9, 2014, fans can visit www.rockhall.com, www.rollingstone.com, and www.usatoday.com to cast votes for who they believe to be most deserving of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2015 inductees.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 inductees will be announced in December.
All inductees are ultimately represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, the nonprofit organization that tells the story of rock and roll’s global impact via special exhibits, educational programs and its Library and Archives.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio will be held on April 18, 2015, in Cleveland, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Public ticket sale information will be announced at a later date. Klipsch Audio, a leading global speaker and headphone manufacturer, will enter into a strategic partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that will solidify the brand as the first ever presenting sponsor of Induction Ceremony events and the Rock Hall’s Main Stage. Klipsch’s renowned products will also fulfill all audio needs within the iconic museum.
About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Nominees:
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
“I was born in Chicago – nineteen and forty-one…” The racially mixed Paul Butterfield Blues Band blasted off from the Windy City with a wall-of-sound fueled by Butterfield’s inspired harmonica and lead guitarist Mike Bloomfield’s explosive lead guitar – at that moment, American rock and roll collided with the real Southside Chicago blues and there was no turning back. Along with original members Elvin Bishop on second guitar and Mark Naftalin on organ, they conquered the landmark 1965 Newport Folk Festival. It was there Bob Dylan borrowed Bloomfield and the Butterfield band’s African-American rhythm section of Sam Lay on drums and bassist Jerome Arnold (both former Howlin’ Wolf band members) for his world-shaking electric debut that Sunday evening. The Butterfield band converted the country-blues purists and turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James. With the release of their blues-drenched debut album in the fall of 1965, and its adventurous East-West follow-up in the summer of ‘66, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band kicked open a door that brought a defining new edge to rock and roll.
Chic’s founding partnership consisted of songwriter-producer-guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards (1952-1996), abetted by future Power Station drummer Tony Thompson (1954- 2003). They rescued disco in 1977 with a combination of groove, soul and distinctly New York City studio smarts. Rodgers’ chopping rhythm guitar alongside Edwards’ deft bass lines were the perfect counterpart to melodic arrangements with their two female vocalists Alfa Anderson and Norma Jean Wright (replaced by Luci Martin). Out-of-the-box chart smashes “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” the Number One “Le Freak” and Number One “Good Times” (ranked on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Singles Of All Time”) made Chic the preeminent disco band – emphasis on the word ”band” – of the late 70s. Their music also extended disco’s tenure at a critical moment, as hip-hop (and later in the 80s, New Jack Swing) began to take the stage. Over the years, artists such as Sugar Hill Gang and Diddy have turned to Chic for beats and samples: “Good Times” has been checked everywhere from “Rapper’s Delight” and Blondie’s “Rapture,” to Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” Rodgers and Edwards followed their five years in Chic with careers as top-flight producers for an A-list of megastars. Under Rodgers’ leadership, Chic has continued to tour, releasing live performances of its shows in Japan and Amsterdam.
Fueled by the manically prolific imagination of lyricist, guitarist and lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day are the perennial punk adolescents, true to the ethos of every basement and garage-rock band that preceded them. Building on the trail blazed by the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, Green Day are forever wed to The Wild One credo: “What are you rebelling against? What do you got?” The pickings were slim for a pair of teenagers from the East Bay enclaves of Berkeley and Oakland in the 80s, when Armstrong and bassist/backing vocalist Mike Dirnt first hooked up and began playing in high school. Within three years, the drum chair was filled by Tré Cool, and Green Day were on their way. Arguably, the 75 million or so records they have sold, the tours and the Grammys haven’t changed their outlook very much – they’re still on the outside looking in. Who doesn’t hold dear their battered CD of Dookie, with its litany of hits – “Longview,” “Basket Case,” “Welcome To Paradise,” “When I Come Around” and “She” – that collectively held radio hostage for over 15 months in 1994-95? Green Day touchstones raved on as the millennia changed: “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” spent an astounding 43 weeks on the pop chart in 1997-98. Their rock opera masterpiece American Idiot was a damning indictment of the Bush administration, catapulting the group to another level. “American Idiot” went all the way to Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time;” and 2004’s “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” took the Grammy for Record of the Year. Anyone who caught Armstrong in one of his hair-raising stints as St. Jimmy in the Broadway musical of American Idiot witnessed something special.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts created a potent mix of hard rock, glam, punk, metal and garage rock that sounds fresh and relevant in any era. Their biggest hit, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Number One in 1982) is a rock classic – as pure and simple a statement about the music’s power as Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The honesty and power of their records make you believe that rock and roll can change the world. As Jett once described rock and roll: “It’s a feeling thing, it’s emotion. You don’t think about it. If you start thinking rock ‘n’ roll, you’re f**ked. That’s when you’re homogenized. That’s when it’s boring. And that’s when it’s bullsh*t.” From her days as a founding member of the all-female Runaways, Jett has made loud, hook-laden records that convey toughness and joy. Sporting black leather and a shag to create a sexy and androgynous look, Jett took over a role formerly reserved for male rockers. She formed the Blackhearts in 1982, and their classic four-piece sound muscled past the synthesizers that dominated the 80s and carried the flag for rock and roll. Three of their albums – I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll, Album and Up Your Alley – reached the Top 20, behind songs written by Jett and manager Kenny Laguna. By covering songs from all corners of the rock catalogue – from Gary Glitter to Tommy James to Sly and the Family Stone – the band effortlessly broke down barriers between genres and eras. In the 90s, Jett’s no-nonsense attitude and vocal style was a major influence on the riot grrrl movement, and she went on to produce Bikini Kill and record with L7. She continues to be an inspiration for young female rockers.
Kraftwerk is the foundation upon which all synthesizer-based rock and roll and electronic dance music is built. Founded in Düsseldorf in 1970 by the band’s two core members, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, the group was a part of a new wave of musicians in Germany collectively referred to as Kosimsche Musik (cosmic music) who explored the intersection of rock and roll and the avant-garde. Their first three albums capture the sound of an experimental proto-punk jam band riffing on the sounds of Hawkwind and the Velvet Underground, but their fourth album Autobahn (1974) established the beginning of something entirely new (created with longtime friend and producer Konrad “Conny” Plank). The 22-minute title track combined the diverse influences of the Beach Boys and Karlheinz Stockhausen into the creation of an electronic musical odyssey. It also represented a miraculous use of technology through its amalgamation of Moog synthesizers, multi-track recording and traditional instrumentation. The 1977 album, Trans-Europe Express, completed Kraftwerk’s transformation into a synthesized quartet. The album featured some of the funkiest grooves and vocoder melodies ever put on wax. New York City’s burgeoning hip-hop community quickly latched on to the album and DJ Afrika Bambaataa based his track “Planet Rock” (1982) on Kraftwerk’s beats. The years that followed secured Kraftwerk’s place as both musical innovators and master songwriters and the albums, The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981) and Electric Café (1986) established the blueprint for the sound and image of modern electronic music. Kraftwerk’s influence can be heard in the synth-pop of Depeche Mode, the electronic-rock integration of U2 and the DJ/Laptop artist vibrations of Deadmau5 and Skrillex.
Though they were overshadowed at Motown by the much longer-lived Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, nevertheless the plaintive girl group harmonies of the Marvelettes – the original foursome of Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman and Wanda Young – deserve their rightful spot in rock history. They gave Motown/Tamla its first official Number One Hot 100 hit in the late summer of 1961, “Please Mr. Postman” (famously featuring Marvin Gaye on drums); and recorded Motown’s first Holland-Dozier-Holland chart single, “Locking Up My Heart.” The Marvelettes went on, despite tremendous odds, to sing (and occasionally co-write) hit after hit for “The Sound of Young America” for another seven years. Their signature tunes became classics of the next generation: “Please Mr. Postman” (Beatles, Carpenters), “Beechwood 4-5789” (Carpenters), “Too Many Fish In The Sea” (Mitch Ryder, Rascals), “Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead” (Bonnie Raitt), “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” (Jerry Garcia, Grace Jones, Blondie) and more. The Marvelettes did more than their fair share to put Motown on the map, and bring the heart and soul to rock and roll.
N.W.A is one of the most important groups in hip-hop history. Their aggressive, boundary smashing, don’t-give-a-f**k perspective was made clear by their name, which stands for Niggaz Wit Attitude. Their most famous single was “F**k The Police” which was a minimalist classic that described the frustration and anger young black men felt toward the LAPD, years before the Rodney King riots broke out. Some call them the Beatles of hip-hop because of their massive influence, sonic power and their place as a launching pad for several critical solo careers. Dr. Dre, the greatest producer in hip-hop history, created the G-Funk sound he would become known for while he was in N.W.A The G-Funk sound, built on P-Funk samples, synthesizer-heavy, cinematic and ominous themes would shape a generation of hip-hop. Ice Cube, who would become one of the most important MCs in hip-hop history was also in the group as was Eazy-E, an unforgettable figure. The group also included MC Ren, a formidable MC and DJ Yella, an important producer. N.W.A is the prime influence for the sound, ideology, vibe and look of gangsta rap and the L.A. hip-hop sound. They attracted nationwide attention for their albums Straight Outta Compton and Niggaz4Life. Indeed, the FBI sent the group a warning letter that is on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor is a study in contradictions: a self-described “computer dweeb” with sharply defined biceps; he makes music that juxtaposes the brutal and delicate, chaos and order, nihilistic despair and spiritual rapture. With Nine Inch Nails, he has taken the sounds and sights of transgressive art — monkey messiahs, shiny boots of leather, serial killers — into the mainstream, transmuting alienation into community. Nine Inch Nails began in Cleveland in the late 80s as a studio project for Reznor, but blossomed onstage with his live band during the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991, which found NIN laying waste to its instruments in the afternoon sun as dismayed fellow musicians and converted fans looked on. The 1994 breakthrough album, The Downward Spiral, combined the mechanized funk and discordant noise of industrial rock with Reznor’s belief in melody and song structure. It debuted at Number Two on the Billboard album chart and spawned the Top 40 hit “Closer” — with its promises of animalistic sex as a way of being nearer to God — as well as “Hurt,” later covered by Johnny Cash. A mud-splattered, star-making performance at Woodstock in 1994 delivered Nine Inch Nails to the arena level. A series of carefully wrought tours — including a co-headlining trek with David Bowie in 1995 — followed, accompanied by visuals as transformative as they were simple. In recent years, Reznor’s penchant for futurism has included distributing music for free on the Internet as well as working for Beats Music to find a way to restore value to purchasing music. Nine Inch Nails returned in 2013 with Hesitation Marks, and launched a tour which continues to the present day.
With the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed created music that ranked him among the Beatles and Bob Dylan in terms of both importance and influence. Every alternative movement that arose from the late 60s until his death in 2013 – from punk to grunge and beyond – owed Reed an essential debt. In the course of a fearless solo career that lasted more than 40 years, Reed both solidified and enhanced the stature he had attained with the Velvet Underground. He consistently took an uncompromising stance in the service of his artistic vision – often following commercial breakthroughs with daring, experimental projects that initially confounded both fans and critics only to gain recognition decades later. That willingness to follow his creative instincts wherever they led him, regardless of the cost, made him a figure of tremendous symbolic significance to succeeding generations of artists – from David Bowie to R.E.M., from Iggy Pop to U2, from Patti Smith to Arcade Fire. In addition, like James Joyce with Dublin or Bruce Springsteen with the Jersey Shore, Reed became inextricably associated with New York, transforming the city in his songs into a cauldron of moral challenges, a spiritual proving ground in which damnation and redemption were sometimes impossible to tell apart. Reed both observed the world and transformed it, definitively shaping the sound and the sense of contemporary music. His impact has been so total that it can be easy to overlook. It’s hard to remember that one man could be responsible for so much that came after him, but in the case of Lou Reed, it’s not only true, but undeniable.
The Smiths lasted only five years (1983-87), releasing four extraordinary studio albums, yet the tentacles of their influence remain strong even today. The group was a quartet, but its two driving wheels were lyricist/frontman Morrissey and ace guitarist Johnny Marr. They fashioned a sound that absorbed all range of 60s pop music (Motown, the Byrds, Dusty Springfield, the Velvet Underground), fused with smart, jabbing social and personal observations, delivered by Morrissey in a markedly distinctive baritone wail. Marr was a guitar genius of the post-punk era with a distinctive tone and detailing that were every bit as essential to the Smiths’ sound as Morrissey’s voice. He rarely played solos – instead he had an arsenal of chiming rhythms, and often played sweeping arpeggios. The point of view was that of a lonely, bored and vulnerable outsider, looking at an often uninviting world from a perpetual distance giving voice to the feelings of disaffected high schoolers in the UK and beyond. While the lyrics were wry and biting, the music was often highly accessible, like the radio songs of their youth. Three of the albums – The Smiths, Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead are in the Rolling Stone “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The Smiths influence has been felt in everything from the Stone Roses and Radiohead, thru Brit pop (Oasis, Blur, Pulp) and current darlings like the National and the Decemberists. The Smiths stood on the outside looking in, a place once occupied by Elvis Presley.
One of the world’s most beloved R&B vocal groups, the Spinners were a hit-making machine at Atlantic Records, where they came to define the Philadelphia Sound that dominated pop and urban radio and dance clubs in the 70s. With a stage act that rivaled Motown’s best groups, and a track record of hits that resonated around the world, the Spinners were second to none. Before settling into the classic five-man lineup of Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson, Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough and lead singer Philippé Wynne, the Spinners spent nearly two decades in their native Detroit. This included stints in the 60s on Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi label and later on Motown’s V.I.P. imprint. At Aretha Franklin’s behest, they moved to Atlantic in 1972, where they were teamed with Philadelphia producer-songwriter Thom Bell and the Sigma Sound Studios crew. Bell’s track record with the Delfonics and the Stylistics made him the perfect choice for the Spinners, who exploded at Atlantic with four Number One R&B hits in less than 18 months: “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” and “Mighty Love.” In fact, there were 15 consecutive Top 10 R&B singles over their first five years at the label. During this time, the Disco era brought massive crossover hits with “Then Came You” (with Dionne Warwick, Number One pop), “They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play)” and “The Rubberband Man.” In the decades to follow, the Spinners’ trunk full of hits found new fans on every continent, and such artists as Elton John, David Bowie and Elvis Costello have all sung their praises. To see Henry Fambrough leading the group today is one of the eternal joys of classic R&B.
More than three decades into his eminently successful career as a solo artist, Gordon Sumner aka Sting remains as committed to his music as he is to the many social activist causes he supports. Amnesty International’s 1981 concert provided him with his first platform as a solo artist, an unforgettable reggae-flavored take on Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Since then, Sting has been a charter member of the Amnesty programs, has lent his support to the Rainforest Foundation, and has always been there for benefit concerts on behalf of crises as varied as AIDS, the Haiti earthquake, the Dalai Lama and many others. This worldview reflects Sting’s broad musical palette, which graduated from the power-punk reggae-rock of the Police to his own ventures into jazz, classical and Afro-beat. The melody of his songs and the improvisational force of his arrangements are extraordinary. And his restless drive to experiment has led him to places that nobody could have predicted – even Broadway where his musical The Last Ship opened October 2014. As a collaborator, no one has ever been as busy or as versatile as Sting, working with Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Algerian Cheb Mami, Sheryl Crow, the Chieftains, Alison Krauss and many more. Going back to his iconic portrayal of the Bellboy in Quadrophenia, Sting also enjoyed an eclectic array of film roles. Fortunately, it is his battle-scarred Fender Precision bass to which Sting always returns, the eternal Englishman in New York.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Legends run deep when memories of Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990) are invoked. David Bowie said, after seeing the 28-year-old Dallas blues guitar sensation for the first time at Montreux in 1982: “SRV completely floored me. I probably hadn’t been so gung-ho about a guitar player since seeing Jeff Beck in the early 60s.” Famed music man Jerry Wexler arranged for Vaughan’s big-time debut at Montreux (which led to him playing on Bowie’s global Number One hit, “Let’s Dance”). Equally famed John Hammond led Vaughan to Epic Records. The studio and live LPs released during the last seven years of his life etched SRV into Stratocaster immortality and influenced the next generation of blues guitarists. From the opening onslaught of “Love Struck Baby,” “Pride And Joy” and “Texas Flood” on his first LP, it was clear that Vaughan belonged in the highest ranks of guitar greats. His devotion to Jimi Hendrix emerged on his second LP, with a blistering cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” It turned into a staple of nearly every SRV show, along with Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Vaughan laid out his dedication to the great masters for all to see, especially Guitar Slim (“The Things (That) I Used To Do”) and Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers Buddy Guy (“Mary Had A Little Lamb”), Freddie King (“Hide Away”) and Albert King (“Blues At Sunrise”). During his short-lived career, Vaughan also recorded show-stopping collaborations with B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Paul Butterfield, Dick Dale, Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins and many others.
War broke out in the late 60s, when interracial Los Angeles audiences welcomed the band’s steamy mix of blues and soul, rock and R&B, built on a strong Afro-Latin foundation, similar to Santana’s recipe. With its six African-American founding members – Papa Dee Allen, Charles Miller, Harold Brown, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan and Howard Scott – War gigged around L.A. for nearly a decade, first as the Creators, later as Nightshift. In 1969, they hooked up with Eric Burdon (ex-Animals), producer-manager Jerry Goldstein and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar. The partnership with Burdon lasted less than two years, but gave War their signature debut hit “Spill The Wine.” Unlike their Bay Area counterparts, War nurtured an enthusiastic urban following on R&B radio. They were a solid Top 10 pop/R&B crossover presence throughout the 70s, starting with the breezy “All Day Music.” Each hit carried a timely social message grounded by their familiar Southern California vibe – “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” “The World Is A Ghetto,” “The Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” “Low Rider,” “Summer,” “L.A. Sunshine.” Into the 80s and 90s, rappers and DJs (from Beastie Boys and 2Pac to Ice-T and De La Soul) discovered choice samples and beats in War’s music (cf. Rap Declares War). Personnel shifts have altered the lineup, but War continues to please loyal fans with their unique West Coast fusion.
In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. A 33-year old Navy veteran when he had his first hit, Withers remained detached from the hype and nonsense of show business and walked away for good when commercial interests tried to interfere with his art. But what a legacy he left behind: the bittersweet “Ain’t No Sunshine” was a breakout smash in 1971, produced by Booker T. Jones, with backing from Stephen Stills and the MG’s. With his second album, Withers moved onto the funkier territory of “Use Me” and his most enduring hit, “Lean On Me.” Over the next few years Withers scored hits with pop (“Lovely Day”) and duets with several jazz musicians, including “Just The Two Of Us” with Grover Washington Jr. When Withers dropped out of the music industry, his songs stayed alive. Meshell Ndegeocello had a number one dance hit with Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He To You).” Club Noveau brought a cover of “Lean On Me” to the top of the pop charts. The number one “No Diggity” by BLACKstreet with Dr. Dre sampled Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands.” Withers’ songs have been covered by an astonishing range of artists – from the Temptations to Garth Brooks, Anne Murray to Mary J. Blige, Gil Scott-Heron to Widespread Panic, along with Isaac Hayes, Fiona Apple, Big Daddy Kane, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Aaron Neville, Mick Jagger & Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys & Rob Thomas, Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow, Michael Stipe & Brian Eno and the cast of GLEE. Stubbornly his own man, Bill Withers wrote songs that spoke for everyone.