Ok, so I mentioned a few days back the possibility that Van Halen could be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Yesterday, the rumors became fact and the rock hall committee announced that Van Halen had earned a spot in the class of 2007 inductees (along with R.E.M., the Ronettes, Patti Smith, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five). Of the list, Van Halen is really the only band deserving to be inducted, but I guess you take what you can get.
While I have nothing against Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, I don’t think a rap act deserves to be in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. After all, 20 years from now, Chingy and Snoop Dog will be clamoring for a spot in the hall too, and that just doesn’t seem right.
Now, the reasons why Van Halen (David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen) so richly deserve a spot in the museum that rock built. And, in a moment, why the house that rock built is a complete load of crap.
First, the good: Van Halen is one of the most successful rock bands of all time. In fact, the band is just one of seven that have had two albums sell more than 10 million copies in America. Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Def Leppard and the Beatles are the others. Other than Eddie Van Halen’s impeccable virtuosity on the electric guitar, the band is perhaps best known for tension among members. David Lee Roth helped make Van Halen a household name. He left the band in 1985 and instead of fading into oblivion the remaining band members invited Sammy Hagar to sing lead vocals on the 1986 smash 5150. After Sammy left the band in 1996, things got pretty messy. There are reunions with Roth, reunions with Hagar, and Gary Cherone of Extreme even stood behind the microphone for a hot minute. Then there are marital troubles, health woes, money issues, and everything else that goes along with rock stardom.
Rumors of a reunion tour started swirling a couple months ago. How band members act during the March 12 induction ceremony will be a pretty good indicator of a possible reunion tour. Billboard reporter Gary Graff spoke with Sammy Hagar about the upcoming gala. Hagar is quoted as saying he hopes all the members of Van Halen take the high road. "My hope is that everyone lets everything go and we go there in complete respect of each other and in a loving way, with the attitude that 'I couldn't have done it without you' towards everybody.” [For the complete article, head to www.billboard.com].
Now, to the bad: The idea of a museum celebrating the accomplishments of rock is pretty cool. Unfortunately cool in theory and cool in reality are two totally different things. Take, for instance, the odd mix of inductees, ranging from Aerosmith and AC/DC to Patti LaBelle, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. In fact, very few hard rock acts enjoy a spot in the hall of fame (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Black Sabbath are also inductees). The majority of inductees are largely blues legends and icons of pop. Music sure, rock no. The constant battle over the location of the induction ceremony (always in New York City, never in Cleveland) and voting politics undermine the importance of the hall in the music industry.
Sidebar: Van Halen holds a special place in my heart. I saw them on the Balance world tour at Riverbend Music Center near Cincinnati. This was my first real concert, and it was a sell out. My parents took me and a friend. I think they were nervous and thought the tickets were too expensive. They were probably right.