2011 was, to date, the final year where the induction ceremony takes place at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom, a place where they always held during their first 26 years of existence. So it’s no wonder that the final year at Waldorf has a class that represents mostly critics (and also maybe Avocado) favorites that included one that should’ve been inducted in the Performer category, and also two populist acts.
One of the populist acts is an artist where it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but is big enough to deserve induction at the Hall is Neil Diamond. Neil Diamond was inducted after 23 years of being first eligible, and it’s no mystery of why he got inducted that was because not a lot of people like his songs from 1970s to onwards. And honesty Neil Diamond really deserves to be inducted because he is one of the quintessential artist of the singer/songwriter movement.
Another populist act that got inducted in 2011 was Alice Cooper. It was a year after fellow Detroit rockers The Stooges got finally inducted (and also the year after KISS got it’s first nomination), so it’s no wonder that the next logical step of who to induct would be Alice Cooper. And it’s not just Alice Cooper the man that got inducted, it was the original band line-up (which consisted Cooper, Glen Buxton, Neal Smith, Michael Bruce, and Dennis Dunaway) who got inducted. And they should be inducted that way because the Alice Cooper band made one of the most important music in the early 1970s and was one of the progenitors of Punk.
Now for the critical favorites, I was pleasantly surprised that Tom Waits got inducted that early, and on his first nomination. Now he may be inducted on his 11th year of eligibility, Tom Waits seem like the type of artist who the Hall would induct on the latter half of the 2010s since his music borderlines with Alternative, a genre that the Hall has a hard time inducting acts from. Even though it was kind of late, I’m glad that the Hall acknowledged Tom Waits that early.
Whether it be with The Crystals, The Blossoms, or Bob B. Sox & The Blue Jeans, Darlene Love deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even though most of her big hits are credited on the groups that I listed above, Darlene Love’s voice is so distinct it kinda makes sense to induct her solo. Plus it’s really nice that David Letterman always invites her to sing on his Christmas shows.
Another critics favorite that got inducted on the final Waldorf year was Dr. John. It’s really a coincidence that both Alice Cooper and Dr. John got inducted on the same year since both singers have a stage persona that are supernatural themed, even though both are from different genre. It’s really nice that the Hall inducted Dr. John on his first nomination since the Hall is have trouble inducting acts from New Orleans lately (particular The Meters).
Even though he was inducted on the “Award for Musical Excellence” (which is just the Sidemen category under a different name), Leon Russell really deserves to be inducted in the performers category. Many people know Leon Russell more as an actual performer than through his works as a sessions musician. So inducting him in the Sideman category kinda felt like an insult to Russell. Heck, even if his name was on the ballot, I guarantee that every Rock Hall voter will pick him right away.
The non-performer inductees that year are kind of meh for me since both are music executives. One of the non-performers is Jac Holzman, who is mostly known as an executive of Elektra Records. The only one who seemed interesting is Art Rupe. Rupe is one of the founders of Specialty Records, an R&B label that launched the careers of Little Richard and Sam Cooke.
Artists Who Were Nominated That Year, But Didn’t Get Inducted
There were 10 other artists who didn’t get inducted in 2011, but they would eventually get inducted afterwards. So I’ll be saving my analysis on Donna Summer, Laura Nyro, Donovan and the Beastie Boys on their respective years. I also already mentioned the nominations of Chic and The J. Geils Band on the years that I covered previously.
2011 was the second year of eligibility for LL Cool J, but like I said before not a lot of voters don’t him in high regards as the other rappers from the 80s. This was also the year when Bon Jovi got their first nomination (they were later inducted in 2018), but I get the feeling that voters weren’t ready to accept Bon Jovi that early. This was also Chuck Willis’ first appearance on the ballot since 1990, but sadly got passed over yet again. And it’s still baffling that Joe Tex is still not in the Rock Hall. Tex has the success and charisma that could rival James Brown.
Even though this was the final year before the induction ceremonies officially became a public event, I prefer this year over the others. The 2011 seems like the type of class that the Avocado would vote for (with some additions), and provided a more variety of genres before it became the “Classic Rock Radio Hall of Fame”. Plus it was fun seeing Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Darlene Love, Elton John, and Better Midler performing together at the jam.
Artists Who I Would Vote For If I Had a Real Ballot:
- Alice Cooper
- Beastie Boys
- Darlene Love
- Joe Tex
- Tom Waits
- (Leon Russell if he was actually on the ballot)
Chic, Dr. John and Laura Nyro would’ve made my final cut.