Friday, January 12, 2007

Hot for Teacher, not so hot for Rock Hall

Earlier this week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees into the class of 2007. Included were hard-rock band Van Halen, who hit it big in the 1980s with a string of platinum albums and radio-friendly songs.

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen reinvented guitar playing for an entire generation. Not since Hendrix had anybody rocked harder or with more innovation. Listen to the opening of "Eruption" off the band's self-titled debut or most of his solos through the album "1984" and you'll hear an artist breaking all the rules and shredding paint off the walls with the power of his licks.

Lead singer David Lee Roth presided over all this three-chord power with the grace of a carnival barker, but his yelps and gurgles endeared him to audiences. Too bad all that energy didn't translate to radio, where his attempt to replace Howard Stern last year was a failure.

My own era of Van Halen came a little later, when Roth had left the band for a solo career and was replaced with rocker Sammy Hagar. Their first album together, "5150," is one of my favorites, and while most critics agree that Eddie's playing went a little flat around that time, it still sounded mighty fine to my 18-year-old ears.

While I applaud the Rock Hall's decision to induct the band, I still can't applaud the rock hall. First of all, the powers-that-be continue to hold the induction ceremony in New York City, a slap in the face to Cleveland and all northeast Ohio music fans. Secondly, and more personally, they have ignored my favorite artist, Alice Cooper.

In the late 60s and early seventies, Alice Cooper the band had an incredible run of albums that are generally considered classics of the genre. The five-man band, led by the singer with the same name, uncorked a string of classics that still receive repeated airplay today -- "School's Out," "Under My Wheels," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," and "Billion Dollar Babies" among them. When the band separated in 1975, Cooper went solo with another string of hit albums, including the seminal "Welcome to My Nightmare." Cooper the band and Cooper the man introduced theatrics to rock and roll, and many a later rocker credits the band for inspiring music and visusals.

But from the Rock Hall, stony silence.

Until it starts inducting in Cleveland and until it honors Alice Cooper, who still releases albums and tours incessantly, I'm boycotting the entire organization.

Even though I really like Van Halen.

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