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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Kate Bush and Judas Priest among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame first-time nominees

Kate Bush's classic "Wuthering Heights"

The first-time nominees for the induction next year into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are of greatest interest today, now that the 19 finalists were announced this morning.

Most notable among the nine newcomers--for this taste--are seemingly the most opposite: Kate Bush and Judas Priest.

The ethereal Kate Bush is so rightly and mightily beloved by her legion of fans that she has a real chance of induction, especially considering that the only real female artist competition is previously nominated Chaka Khan (nominated as Rufus featuring Chaka Khan)—that is, not counting the first-time nominated group Eurhythmics, who have a strong chance of going in thanks to its esteemed frontwoman and star solo artist Annie Lennox.

Bush is also up against two first-time women, both hugely significant, but both long gone: Nina Simone, who’s more of a jazz-pop luminary, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the 1930s and ‘40s gospel singer-guitarist who was a major influence on many of the first Rock and Roll Hall of Famers including Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. That Simone and Tharpe are worthy of the highest honors—and that both have been the focus of recent documentaries—doesn’t at all guarantee that RockHall voters will know who they are.

Then again, while Bush had a major comeback decades after her last concerts with 22 shows in London in 2014, she never toured America, not even in her 1980s MTV heyday. As for fellow Britishers Judas Priest, even with the harder rock/heavy metal acts like Rush and Kiss entering the hall in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and Black Sabbath already in, the Beast that is Priest is probably too far out for more sedate voters who are more likely to go for fresher first-time nominee Rage Against the Machine.

If popularity is the priority, first-timer Bon Jovi would seem a shoo-in, though first-timers Radiohead and Dire Straits have more rock critics support—and the RockHall electorate has a large percentage of rock critics. That leaves the Moody Blues last among the first-timers—somewhat surprising in that the ‘60s progressive rock band had a lot of hits and helped pave the way for inductees like Genesis and Yes. If prog rock voters again come out in force they‘ll make the Moodies most happy.

Looking at the remaining previously nominated artists, the pop/new wave bands Depeche Mode and The Cars have their adherents, for sure, but aren’t particularly exciting—should that be a factor. Pioneering blues-rock group J. Geils Band will probably again fall short opposite the more pop and popular nominees, even with the higher visibility this year brought about by the death of its guitarist/leader J. Geils.

Rapper LL Cool J might get lucky on his fourth ballot, but probably not. Same with New Orleans’ funketeers The Meters, also on their fourth go-round.

This leaves two very worthy two-timers from the ‘60s, guitar god Link Wray and British Invaders The Zombies--hot off their successful Odessey and Oracle tour--and on their third RockHall trip, ‘60s pre-punk legends MC5. Older voters will be thrilled if all three go in this time--as they all should have years ago--but older Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters, like older rock artists, are beginning to thin out.

(The 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled to take place next April 14 in Cleveland, where the Hall is located.)



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