THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME: First class inducted, January 23, 1986
Originally published January 23, 2015.
When the first class of “early influencers” was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, many of my friends were appalled. Never mind that the Hall of Fame was, at that time, more concept than reality; it would be almost eight years before the actual building was constructed and opened to the public. Never mind that the Hall of Fame board of directors hadn’t even settled on a location for the Hall of Fame, or even a clear mission. My friends and I are classic Generation X-ers, the kind who find meaning and guidance in music. For many of us, music wasn’t just a soundtrack to our lives, it provided meaning and spiritual guidance. Rock & roll was a supplemental – sometimes a surrogate - parent for us, and we tended to that relationship accordingly. We obsessed over minor details. We made lists and compared and categorized and traced influences. Music represented our moods and our moments and our development through adolescence. Rock & roll was as broad as the human experience: it could be gritty or polished, it could be loud or quiet, fast or slow. The rules that governed rock & roll were as loosely-defined as the rules the governed adolescence, and my friends and I used the template of rock to try to understand life. If we could decode and understand rock music, the world would fall into place. As a result, the idea of a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame felt like a betrayal. To many of my friends, enshrining an art form created to be wild and unruly didn’t feel like putting a wild tiger into a cage, it felt more like encasing the tiger in Lucite.
The best parts of us are like rock & roll, and both deserve to be preserved.
- The official site of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame