Friday, August 5, 2011

The Case for Heart for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In this latest installment, we make the case for Heart for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   

While they suffered from the same fate of many of the bands that I’ve promoted for the Hall in that they had vastly changing membership, Heart, at its core, is really about the Wilson sisters.  Ann and Nancy Wilson are the driving force of this band, and the real reason that they should be considered for the Hall in the first place.  They were truly the first women “rockers,” and paved the way for dozens of women guitarists and rockers that followed.  In a totally masculine environment, they rocked with the best of them, and produced some incredible music.   

Beyond the obvious trailblazer contribution, there are many other reasons to consider Heart for the Hall:  
  •  Ann Wilson and that voice are just incredible.  Like Robert Plant, her distinct voice is a musical instrument that just defines rock and roll.  It can be powerful, haunting, mysterious, and driving, all on the same side of the album.  
  •  Three out of their first four albums were incredibly strong.  Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen are both classics, and the unique Dog and Butterfly (with the sides dedicated as “Dog” for a harder sound and Butterfly for a more folksy, acoustic sound) are all tremendous releases.  Magazine, their third release, was a bit of a miss, but with the others serving as bookends, that can be forgiven.   
  • Heart helped grow the Seattle music scene which dominated things in the 1990’s.  Their relationship with Alice in Chains is longstanding, and they were even featured in the motion picture of the era, Singles (albeit as their alter-ego The Lovemongers). 
  • Finally, they’re owed their due for Barracuda; one of the finest rock songs ever crafted.  Here’s an example of it from their heyday, and while it is a lipsynched version, it is still a great song.   

So why aren’t they in the Hall?  My bet is that Ann’s weight gain has something to do with it.  The band leveraged its sex appeal in its early days, and that decreased as Ann’s weight increased.  But what a stupid reason!  Her weight never impacted her voice, and that voice is the only thing that really mattered for the band.  

 I will grant you that they put out a lot of crap in the 1980’s video era.  But while they cashed those checks, it does not take away from the amount of ground that they broke for many musicians that followed.  Rocker chicks everywhere, and their fans alike, owe a big debt of thanks to the Wilson sisters and Heart.  That debt can be repaid by electing them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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