Van Halen and the RRHOF
By Alun Thomas
The scenario is preposterous. You attend an award ceremony, win the award yet are not allowed by the powers to be to accept your own prize and instead someone else accepts it on your behalf complete with a speech, despite the fact you are there in person. Unrealistic? Don't believe it. This is the exact situation that Van Halen, or specifically David Lee Roth found himself in when Van Halen is inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, an event which will have occurred by the time this is published. Not only are Van Halen set to be represented only by Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony from their ranks, Roth and the Van Halen brothers will not be on hand. Good for them. It's all the hall deserves for the way it handles itself and the artists it inducts, most of whom have no business being there.
Van Halen were first eligible for induction in 2003 and should have been instantly placed in the hall. But due the fact they are a hard rock, golly maybe metal to some, that means they were ignored. It doesn't matter that they are one of the biggest selling, greatest bands of all time. Look at who is being inducted alongside Van Halen in 2007 for example. REM. Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five. Sammy Hagar might be inducted as part of Van Halen, but he was once part of Montrose who in 1973 recorded perhaps the most influential hard rock and metal album in US rock history. Of course Grandmaster Flash recorded few albums, but they being a rap band are still considered hip by the hall. They were rap innovators. They paved a path. Montrose didn't of course. Revisionist history never felt so good.
Then there is the situation of Van Halen and all the inner turmoil surrouding the band. Who would attend? Would they perform together? Would there be a bust up on stage? After all the band recently cancelled a proposed US tour with Roth on vocals. The speculation all died when Eddie Van Halen checked into rehab. Then Roth declared he wouldn't attend when the organisers of the joke event refused to let him perform, instead asking Velvet Revolver to play a few Van Halen tunes. The very man who sung the songs originally therefore is not permitted to sing by the cluless bastards running this shambles. That's paying homage alright. Isn't the ceremony supposed to be aimed at the artists being honoured? Apparently not. It's mind boggling and a travesty. REM will probably be allowed to play 'Everybody Hurts' to a standing ovation. Does it get any worse?
Not really. The fact that I could not wait to type these words after the ceremony takes place indicates what an ongoing disaster this whole process has become, and althought I have written about the hall of fame before, this chain of events surrounding Van Halen are the worst yet. But I keep thinking about REM. Who could even say they are a rock band? They are first ballot inclusions yet Kiss will never be included. Who are the college posers voting on this? Why are REM considered cutting edge? Is Michael Stipe a poet? Or maybe a angst ridden ham on Bono levels? David Lee Roth is rock and roll. He is it's spirit now and forever. And he can't even belt out a song. Stipe meanwhile is pretension at it's worst. Yet his kind are embraced.
As it turned out however I could wait. And everything went according to plan. Only Hagar and Anthony showed. The Van Halen brothers and Roth were absent. Velvet Revolver butchered 'Ain't Talkin Bout Love' and 'Runaround'. The crowd was audibly heard laughing at the spectacle. Scott Weiland performed some type of bizzare David Lee Roth parody that managed to amuse and sicken. It epitomised the entire disaster the Hall Of fame represents. One of the truly great rock bands of all time being shamed and humiliated. Hagar and Anthony were able to play 'Why Can' This Be Love' but the damage was done. Talk about an anticlimax. Still REM went down a storm. And with the scum leading this fiasco of a hall, that is the most telling statement of all. Because it's not rock and roll.