Conspiracy theorists, rest easy.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just fine. In fact, Rock Hall chief executive Greg Harris says 2016 was one of the best years ever for the museum in Cleveland, buoyed by a double-digit attendance increase and a major renovation.
So the idea that the sudden influx of popular ’70s bands like this year’s inductees Journey, Electric Light Orchestra and Yes — fan favorites who have long been eligible and yet passed over — is some sort of ploy to save a struggling museum is wholly misguided. The simpler explanation: A lot of people like those bands — as well as recent inductees Kiss, Chicago and Rush — and more and more of them are Rock Hall voters.
“The single biggest voting body for us — 600-plus voters — is all the other living inductees, and their demographics are changing,” Harris says. “Great songwriting and great performances do endure, and there’s a period where eventually that gets recognized.”
That’s not to say Hall of Fame voters are ignoring other styles of music. Grunge heroes Pearl Jam and rapper Tupac Shakur will each be inducted in their first year of eligibility, 25 years after the release of their debut albums in 1991.
“It’s a phenomenal class,” Harris says, adding that many people are surprised that folk legend Joan Baez wasn’t already inducted. “It’s really neat to see all the different strains under the big tent that we call rock and roll represented.”
Besides the induction ceremony Friday night at Barclays Center, Lenny Kravitz will pay tribute to Prince. HBO will air an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. April 29.
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WHAT The 32nd Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. April 7, Barclays Center, Brooklyn
INFO $50-$500; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
BIO The rockers led the grunge movement, along with Nirvana, out of Seattle and onto the top of the charts, with a mix of punk rage and ’70s rock riffs for classics like “Alive.”
BIGGEST HIT “Last Kiss” (No. 2, 1999)
INDUCTED BY David Letterman
BIO In five short years, the late rapper brought passion and politics to West Coast gangsta rap, giving his tales of life in the ’hood depth and warmth with his unflinching eye for detailed rhymes.
BIGGEST HIT “California Love” featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman / “How Do U Want It” featuring Jodeci (No. 1, 2 weeks, 1996)
INDUCTED BY Snoop Dogg
The folk-rock legend and civil rights activist paved the way for countless Americana acts, from Bob Dylan to Joni Mitchell, with her inspirational voice.
BIGGEST HIT “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (No. 3, 1971)
INDUCTED BY Jackson Browne
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
BIO Jeff Lynne and friends’ mix of classical influences, prog rock sensibilities and pop sunniness created some of the ’70s’ most distinctive, elaborate hits, including “Strange Magic.”
BIGGEST HIT “Don’t Bring Me Down” (No. 4, 1979)
INDUCTED BY Dhani Harrison
BIO The Bay Area band defined FM rock radio in the late ’70s and early ’80s with everything from blues-tinged rock (“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ ”) to power ballads (“Faithfully”) and synth-rock (“Separate Ways”).
BIGGEST HIT “Open Arms” (No. 2, 1980)
INDUCTED BY Train’s Pat Monahan
BIO The ’70s prog rock kings who crafted epic anthems fueled by inventiveness and even reinvented themselves as ’80s video stars.
BIGGEST HIT “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (No. 1, 2 weeks, 1984)
INDUCTED BY Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
BIO The leader of funk and disco force Chic and trusted collaborator to David Bowie, Madonna and Duran Duran will receive the Award for Musical Excellence.
BIGGEST HIT “Le Freak” (No. 1, 6 weeks, 1978-79)
INDUCTED BY Pharrell Williams