Readers pick band in rock hall vote
By JOHN SOEDER
PLAIN DEALER POP MUSIC CRITIC
They are the champions, my friends.
The British band Queen was crowned the most deserving nominee for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as chosen by readers of The Plain Dealer and visitors to the Cleveland Live Web site.
"That's great news," said Queen guitarist Brian May, speaking by phone last week from his studio outside London.
"We always were a band that appreciated our fans more than we appreciated the media or the establishment," he said. "The fact that your readers voted for us means as much to me as the real thing. . . . It's very much appreciated.
"Cleveland used to be a regular port of call for us. It was well-known as one of the rock capitals of the world and we felt at home there."
Aerosmith, AC/DC, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath were the other top vote-getters, in order of popularity, in our first readers' choice induction poll. More than 1,200 ballots were submitted.
Our tally was just for fun. The rock hall will announce its official 2001 inductees next month, after counting votes cast by an international pool of 1,000 artists, producers, broadcasters, writers and music industry executives. Between five and seven nominees will make the final cut.
Queen was snubbed by rock hall voters last year. It's all the same to May if the band is inducted or not.
"We had a damn good time," he said. "We gave it our heart and soul for years. That's a reward in itself."
He said the rock hall hoopla probably would not have mattered much to flamboyant Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991.
"He always said his art was disposable - tomorrow's fish-and-chips paper," May recalled. "Freddie didn't look for people to pat him on the back. He was a well-formed person who didn't need too much in the way of stroking. If you handed him an award, he would say, 'Oh, darling, off you go on my mantelpiece.'"
Besides our finalists, the other hopefuls on this year's rock hall ballot are Ritchie Valens, Steely Dan, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, the New York Dolls, Brenda Lee, Michael Jackson, the Flamingos and Solomon Burke.
Some participants in our poll sent in comments with their votes.
Given the range of musical styles represented by the nominees as well as the inductees already in the rock hall, Ed Fagan of Cleveland Heights recommended renaming the place the Rock and Pop Hall of Fame. "Imagine the nominees for 2005 and beyond: Madonna, Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys and Ricky Martin, to name a few," Fagan wrote.
Clevelander Ray Tomorowitz took the rock hall to task for overlooking the Moody Blues, Yes and other progressive-rock groups. "I'm not the only fan of this music who feels slighted," he declared. "Aerosmith? Bah!"
Several readers expressed an interest in having the public take part in the formal induction process. Summing up a recurring theme, Vic Vella of Twinsburg wrote: "Fans should be included in the Hall of Fame voting."
So why aren't they?
"The selection and voting process is meant to reflect [an] artist's impact on the history of music, which is not necessarily always reflected in record sales or general popularity," said Suzan Evans, executive director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which oversees the rock hall inductions.
"However, we respect that rock 'n' roll music can be a very personal and passionate thing," Evans said. "The foundation always meant to have [the] honorees selected by a group of music historians and our board of directors. Our panel of music historians represents a broad variety of music interests and backgrounds, and we add voters to it every year."
As part of our poll, we also asked for write-in candidates. The Guess Who won by a landslide in th