Finally Getting a Little Respect – Hall of Fame Inductions – The Comets

13 Feb

When Otis Redding sang about “Respect” on his seminal album Otis Blue in 1965, he was backed by some members of the STAX records house band, Booker T and the M.G.’s (and a 23-year-old Isaac Hayes). In 1992, one of the most famous house bands to ever put their sound to records (they were the southern soul version of Motown’s northern soul Funk Brothers), was elected to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. There was no doubt that they earned that respect.

But, for too long, backing bands have been left off of the induction list of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and this annual controversial decision continued to anger music lovers. Thankfully, the Hall of Fame has finally admitted their mistake and added several backing bands that deserve their R-E-S-P-E-C-T (and yes, I know Aretha added that to the chorus in her 1967 version).

This year, the hall will honor Gene Vincent’s The Blue Caps, Bill Haley’s Comets, Buddy Holly’s Crickets, James Brown’s Famous Flames, Hank Ballard’s Midnighters, and Smokey Robinson’s Miracles. If you remember back to 1987 when Smokey was elected into the hall, there was a huge controversy because the Miracles, a pretty damn important part to the success of the band, was not elected with him. Artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after their debut release.

“These Inductees are pioneers in the development of the music we call rock and roll,” said Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “As part of our mission to recognize the most impactful, innovative and influential artists in rock, the committee brought forth these six groups that belong in the Hall of Fame.”

All I can say is the process to get some of these instrumental backing bands into the hall was arduous, but thankfully it is coming to fruition because they totally deserve it. Joining them at this year’s induction are:

Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Small Faces/The Faces, Freddie King, Don Kirshner, Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns. Thank you Rolling Stone for the neat list.

I am happy for all of the backing bands being honored. The Miracles deserved the honor with Smokey 25 years ago, but they will get it now. The Crickets (and all of the rockabilly and music world) would have been forever transformed if Holly didn’t die in a plane crash. While music was certainly changing and the British Invasion was on the horizon, I stand firm to my belief that Holly and his Crickets could have become the biggest band in the world for a long time if, as Don McLean eloquent states, Holly didn’t take the last train for the coast. Do you know who I’m really psyched for, though? These guys:

The Comets

Bill Haley and His Comets do not get enough credit for sparking the rock n’ roll craze in the United States AND abroad. They formed in 1952 when orchestral ballads topped the charts. The Comets took old-fashioned blues music and transformed it into a lively mix of brass and guitar. I do believe one can credit the Comets as being one of the first acts to successfully market this blend and I stand by my statement that “Rock Around the Clock,” written as a 12-bar-blues song by Max Freedman and Jimmy De Knight, is one of the most important rock n’ roll songs ever recorded. It served as an anthem to 50’s youth and was one of the first rock n’ roll songs I fell in love with.

So a big congratulations to:

JOEY AMBROSE, Saxophone
FRANNY BEECHER, Guitar
JOHNNY GRANDE, Piano
MARSHALL LYTLE, Bass
DICK RICHARDS, Drums

You all deserve this honor big time. Now let’s rattle some pots and pans and rock around the clock.

Yes. When we look back on music 50 years from now, people will hopefully proudly say this is simply Rock n’ Roll!

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