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why aren’t the moody blues in the bloody rock & roll hall of fame?

IN A RECENT EDITION OF QUORA, someone asked why the Moody Blues haven’t been in­ducted into the bloody Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It would cer­tainly seem that the Moody Blues are far more qual­i­fied than many in­ductees, so I began preparing a lengthy an­swer, thinking I might pro­vide some in­sight. But I got side­tracked with an­other project and failed to get around to posting my com­ment.

I re­vis­ited Quora to ad­dress the ques­tion and found a very in­tel­li­gent re­sponse al­ready made by Brett Paster­nack:

“What it comes down to is that the nom­i­nating com­mittee has very spe­cific tastes. For a while, there were a lot of artists to be in­ducted who were so huge that your per­sonal tastes didn’t matter.

But having run out of those gi­ants, but con­tin­uing to want to in­duct artists from the ’60s and ’70s (the nom­i­nating com­mittee has, un­for­tu­nately, lost in­terest in the ’50s), they tend to­ward what they like.

 

The Moody Blues are far more qual­i­fied than many other in­ductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 

There’s some love for ‘al­ter­na­tive’ rock and its roots, too. Gen­er­ally NOT in their wheel­house are pop­pier sounds, metal, modern forms of R&B, and, most rel­e­vant here, prog.

So, the Moody Blues. If ‘mu­sical ex­cel­lence’ is mea­sured by crit­ical ac­claim, they don’t do as well as some can­di­dates, but cer­tainly not badly. If you in­ter­pret the term in terms of tech­nical pro­fi­ciency, they’d be well ahead of most groups in the Hall.”

That is a trun­cated ver­sion of Brett’s comment—his full an­swer is much longer, and touched on sev­eral points I had in­tended to ad­dress my­self. But in­stead of boring readers with re­dun­dan­cies, I cut my an­swer down to a frac­tion of its orig­inal size.

To read Brett’s com­ment and my re­sponse, click on over to “Why has the Moody Blues group been over­looked by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Then come back here and read on.

 

Bloody Rock: cover of the Moody Blues' IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD album.

Every person I knew who did acid in the ’60s and ’70s con­sid­ered the Moody Blues re­quired lis­tening for most trips. On my first outing, my friends played IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD, whose opening track, Ride My Seesaw, re­mains one of the great in­vi­ta­tions of the Psy­che­delic Six­ties: “Ride, ride my see-saw, take this place on this trip just for me. Ride, take a free ride, take my place, have my seat, it’s for free.”

No objective standards

So, why aren’t the Moody Blues in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? First, keep in mind that there are no “ob­jec­tive” stan­dards for in­clu­sion in the HoF. Artists are nom­i­nated based on a con­sensus of the opin­ions of the nom­i­nating com­mittee, who are gen­er­ally very knowl­edge­able in the field of rock & roll his­tory and crit­i­cism.

The artists are then in­ducted based on a con­sensus of the opin­ions of the Hall’s also ex­pert voters. (And I will refer to both groups as voters from this point on.) While this is prob­ably the safest way to run such an in­sti­tu­tion, some nod to­wards ob­jec­tivity might be con­sid­ered by the HoF. 1

For ex­ample, at what point do you stop denying in­duc­tion to an artist with an end­less string of hit sin­gles and a wall full of Gold Records just be­cause you don’t like his music? (See “The world’s most suc­cessful singer-songwriter” below.) 2

Second, there are many artists that rock­writers love to hate, often be­cause they find those artists to be en­dowed with one or more ir­ri­tating qual­i­ties, in­cluded (but not lim­ited to): 3

 too slick
 too pre­ten­tious
 too pop

Check out the early edi­tions of the Rolling Stone Album Guide and be amazed/appalled at the artists who re­ceived dis­mis­sively low rat­ings (less than two stars) for good and better al­bums. This in­cludes:

 As­so­ci­a­tion
 Beach Boys
 Bee Gees
 Glen Camp­bell
 Car­pen­ters
 Donovan
 Grass­roots
 Mon­kees

And, of course, the Moody Blues.

What have they all in common is that they’re white artists who mixed pop with their rock, often with ex­cel­lent re­sults! 4

 

Bloody Rock: cover of Neil Diamond's HOT AUGUST NIGHT album.

Even though most rock­writers seem to loathe Neil Di­a­mond, many of them rave about HOT AUGUST NIGHT, his double-album live set from 1972. But not all: to one critic, this album was “great, pre­ten­tious, goofy pop. There’s al­ways a place for good corn and good pomp too. And when it comes to ham­ming it up, Neil’s one of the few who can ac­tu­ally outdo Elvis!” (Lester Bangs)

The most successful singer-songwriter?

This bias against pop-oriented artists ap­pears to be quite healthy among the people at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A per­fect ex­ample of ne­glect is Neil Di­a­mond, per­haps the most over-qualified can­di­date in the Hall’s his­tory to have to wait more than twenty years for in­clu­sion. At the time of his ini­tial el­i­gi­bility he had:

 38 Top 40 hit sin­gles, in­cluding three #1 records
 23 RIAA Gold Record Awards for album sales
 16 RIAA Plat­inum Record Awards for album sales

These num­bers alone make him one of the most suc­cessful recording artists in his­tory, a sta­tistic that should be im­pos­sible to ig­nore, re­gard­less of the nom­i­na­tors’ per­sonal tastes. Then con­sider that he wrote al­most all of the hit sin­gles and most of the songs on all those million-selling records! 5

 

Neil Di­a­mond may have been the most over-qualified can­di­date to have to wait twenty years for in­duc­tion!

 

At this time, he has 39 RIAA Gold Record Awards for album sales, 22 of which have also re­ceived Plat­inum Awards. In terms of RIAA Awards, Neil Di­a­mond is one of the most suc­cessful singer-songwriters in the world!

This is some­thing that ‘se­rious’ rock music afi­cionados do not wants to rec­og­nize, let alone ac­knowl­edge. 6

Aside from those fig­ures, there’s some gravy: Neil has scored a pair of movies (nei­ther of which did well at the box of­fice but the sound­track al­bums each sold mil­lions), sold out count­less live shows, and starred in his own tele­vi­sion spe­cials! 7

By any­thing re­sem­bling ob­jec­tive stan­dards, Neil Di­a­mond was one of the most qual­i­fied artists in the his­tory of rock & roll on his first ballot in 1987—and he wasn’t even nom­i­nated! He didn’t get in­ducted until twenty-four years later, in 2011!

Why?

Be­cause many rock critics love to hate Neil Di­a­mond. Hell, some of those critics hate Neil be­cause of his fans, many being middle-age-ish fe­males. if there’s any­thing that makes a guy who takes his rock music se­rious think twice about an artist, it’s singers with lots of fe­male fans. I know be­cause I used to be one of them!

Ap­par­ently, they love to hate the Moody Blues even more.

 

Bloody Rock: cover of the Moody Blues' ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM album.

Like their two pre­vious con­cept al­bums, ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM (1969) was a facile blend of pro­gres­sive, psy­che­delic, and pre­ten­tious pop and rock music that made for a fun listen while trip­ping! Plus they were so much better recorded than most of the other al­bums of the Psy­che­delic Six­ties, which greatly added to their ap­peal to pi­o­neering psy­cho­nauts.

Do I wanna be a rock & roll star?

Years ago, my name was put for­ward to be a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nom­i­nating com­mittee. I knew sev­eral people on both the nom­i­nating and voting com­mit­tees per­son­ally or pro­fes­sion­ally, and I knew the ‘type’ of artists that many of them did not want in the Hall at the time.

Many of the voters came from the same ‘school’ that the Rolling Stone writers had at­tended, pre­fer­ring their rock & roll with some basis in or as­so­ci­a­tion with black music—or at least some­thing re­sem­bling the emo­tional hon­esty of black music.

I re­ceived a phone call from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mittee and we had a no-nonsense con­ver­sa­tion that served as a vet­ting of my qual­i­fi­ca­tions. This was done via a se­ries of ques­tions, each in­volving my views of the el­i­gi­bility of var­ious artists, sev­eral of which I have al­ready men­tioned.

The last ques­tion was, “Would you nom­i­nate the Moody Blues for in­duc­tion into the Hall?”

I knew the an­swer he/they wanted to hear.

I knew that my get­ting on the com­mittee de­pended on my an­swering neg­a­tively.

Couldn’t do it.

Said “Yes” in­stead.

Never heard from them again …

Many critics love to hate the Moody Blues and there’s nothing we can do to change that. Click To Tweet

Bloody Rock: photo of the Moody Blues' in the early 1970s.

FEATURED IMAGE: During the height of their pop­u­larity, the Moody Blues were (left to right) Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hay­ward, and John Lodge. By 2002, both Pinder and Thomas had re­tired from the group, making the cur­rent Moody Blues a trio of Hay­ward, Lodge, and Edge.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   No matter how se­rious you take your rock music, the his­tory of rock & roll is tied di­rectly to the pop­u­larity of AM radio Top 40 sta­tions from the 1950s into the ’80s. In as­sessing a can­di­date’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the HoF, surely some weight should be given to artists who con­sis­tently placed records in the ro­ta­tions of thou­sands of sta­tions and on the turnta­bles of mil­lions of record buyers year after year. Of course, if the Hall con­sid­ered this, then they would even­tu­ally have to ponder Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, some­thing I’m sure they all dread.

2   Ap­par­ently, all such in­sti­tu­tions are run sim­i­larly, in­cluding the ven­er­able Base­ball Hall of Fame in Coop­er­stown, New York. Even though base­ball great­ness is all but de­fined by sta­tis­tics, the Hall is filled with mem­bers who got there for other rea­sons. For a fas­ci­nating and em­i­nently read­able look at the inner work­ings and his­tory of this Coop­er­stown shrine, find your­self a copy of Bill James’s What­ever Hap­pened to the Hall of Fame?

3   I use the term rock­writer as an um­brella that covers record re­viewers, critics, jour­nal­ists, his­to­rians, and now blog­gers.

4   Co­in­ci­den­tally, the same Rolling Stone writers awarded a min­imum of three stars to al­most every album by a black artist, re­gard­less of how for­get­table it is!

5   I used the Bill­board Hot 100 as it was readily avail­able, al­though I prefer the Cash Box Top 100 as the more ac­cu­rate survey.

6   To give you an idea of Di­a­mond’s sales ac­com­plish­ment, Bob Dylan (the most fa­mous singer-songwriter) is in first place with 39 RIAA Gold Record Awards, of which 16 have also re­ceived Plat­inum Awards. James Taylor (the artist for whom they coined the term singer-songwriter) has 21 RIAA Gold Record Awards, of which 14 have also re­ceived Plat­inum Awards. (But what if we con­sider Elton John a singer-songwriter?)

7   Of course, a typ­ical Neil con­cert since the ’70s has fea­tured an un­com­monly large per­centage of former-hotties turned middle-aged wives and mothers. This alone was enough to make many of us mock Di­a­mond as an artist. Still does …

 

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COMMENTS

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Peter Mccullough

I have all the lps but never play them save and ex­cept Go Now. Pre­ten­tious but some­times catchy. My acid drop­ping group never played these LPs. Maybe you should have not told the truth!

jerry

one of the poorest selling groups from that time pe­riod, all the other generic rock groups out­sell them today. when donny and marie are in­ducted into the so called “rock and roll” hall of fame do you think they should go in as a group or as in­di­vid­uals?