THE EXCRABLE EXCLUSION OF GRAND FUNK RAILROAD FROM THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD DESERVES A HALL OF FAME NOD

Victims Of A Mean Mistreater

Everybody, listen to me……….

There’s a foul wind that blows off the banks of Lake Erie these days whipping through the city of Cleveland, Ohio, kicking up a thick stale odor , this dark fishy smell working its way across the land as it settles heavily into the crinkled nostrils of patrons of a quickly dying art. Take a deep whiff and you might smell it too. No, it’s not the Browns or the Cavaliers or the city’s baseball team that has a nickname everyone there seems to hate. It’s far more than just a sports franchise stinking up the joint as Cleveland’s professional teams have been known to do for a long time. This offensive aroma emanates from a local institution which oozes glitz and glitter and flowery blowhard palliatives sprayed out onto the public like a can of Fabreze, but, believe me, that’s just a ruse. In downtown Cleveland, there rests an opulent building that pretends to unify and pacify and promises a sparkling all-inclusive high entertainment value to inquisitive visitors. One, that in actuality, is as phoney as an Elvis sighting on Euclid Avenue.

I’m talking about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Sure, the Hall has been ridiculed and criticized for many years now as a politically-driven clan of imperious musical Snobarazzi whose decisions about who gets inducted or not are often questionable, mostly befuddling, and always suffused with varying degrees of doubt and controversy, but, today we need to talk about something that goes far beyond the bounds of mere pinprick snubbery.

We need to talk about a brazen crime of epic proportions committed against one of rock and roll’s most iconic bands—–a true ROCK band—and that band is THE “American Band”, Grand Funk Railroad.

As a child of the 60s with a pretty solid grasp on the rock n roll landscape for most of my life, what I’ve always found flabbergasting, and increasingly lamentable about the Hall Of Fame is that each year when the nominees are announced, Grand Funk Railroad is never mentioned. Never. This has been going on for years, of course, since 1994 when GFR first became eligible, but it’s the same thing every single induction nominee period when this so-called knowledgeable “Committee” of musical mavens announces its next class, I find myself muttering, and now often screaming, “What the hell??” To my amazement, Grand Funk doesn’t even get a sniff at the Hall of Fame and there’s something terribly wrong with that image.

But I’ll go into that more in a moment.

First, let’s start with an introduction to GFR in case some of you youngsters are unfamiliar with the band or your musical horizons are, let’s say, limited. Perhaps the Hall of Fame Nomination Committee members should take a peek at this, too:

For the large part of the early 70’s Grand Funk Railroad was the biggest and baddest heavy rock band on the planet. Forget Deep Purple and Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, GFR overshadowed these monsters by miles. Between 1969 and 1974, the power trio of Mark Farner, Don Brewer, and Mel Schacher placed seven albums in the Top 30, four reaching the Top 10. Keyboards became a major force in Grand Funk’s evolving sound, dominating the 1972 single “Footstompin Music”, which helped propel the band’s 1971 album “E Pluribus Funk” to No. 5 on the charts. Eventually, keyboardist Craig Frost was made a full-time member and the hits just kept on coming. In 1973, the album “We’re An American Band” reached No. 2 and the widely-popular title track hit No. 1 on the singles chart. A year later, in May 1974, the band’s cover of “The Loco-Motion” became their second No. 1 song. They followed that up with two Top 5 singles, “Some Kind Of Wonderful” reached No. 3 in February ’75 and “Bad Time” reached No. 4 four months later. This Michigan-based high-energy blues-rock band released a staggering 11 albums between ’69 and ’76, all of which either went Gold or Platinum. The band has sold an estimated total of nearly 40 million albums in its long illustrious history.

Unquestionably, this was truly the People’s Band. Blue collar, meat and potatoes, ass-kicking, in- yo- face- rock and roll that set a generation of young music lovers afire. Millions and millions of fans loved Grand Funk Railroad during the 70s for its blend of hard-rocking energy, superb playing and singing, and its uncompromising respect to its fans who paid hard-earned money for hard- to -come- by tickets. Grand Funk never let down its fans, never backed out of shows or compromised the quality of its electric performances, never disbanded over drugs or exigence for rehab, something that can’t be said for some other famous rock acts which have been admitted with enthusiastic open arms into the Hall Of Fame. Grand Funk rocked like no other band in the late 60s and early 70s. They influenced many up and coming artists like Van Halen and The Red Hot Chili Peppers (both Hall Of Fame inductees) . They released a song, “Closer To Home” a memorable poignant ode to one’s “place of birth” that has stood the test of time as an inspirational anthem that American soldiers of the Viet Nam Era and tempest teens of that time passionately longed for and embraced.

They WERE the ultimate American Band.

It’s hard to believe that a band who once sold out New York’s Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles, and who were the first U.S. rock band to have 10 platinum discs in a row, can’t get themselves inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Now, are you beginning to smell something……..rotten?

So, how is it that a prodigious mega-selling rock band like Grand Funk can’t manage to get a nomination into the hallowed Hall Of Fame, much less inducted?

For me, this excrable exclusion is based on a couple of reasons, none of which have anything to do with the band’s proficiency as superb musical artists or its domination of music charts.

Although they were the People’s Band and beloved around the world, snooty critics from mainstream music publications like Jann Wenner’s “Rolling Stone Magazine” frequently panned Grand Funk, writing them off as crude and unsophisticated. “Neanderthal Rock” some critics called it. Despite the band’s massive following and skyrocketing sales of its music, Rolling Stone repeatedly disparaged the band in virtually every one of its reviews and didn’t have many good things to say about the FANS who loved and followed GFR, either. Rolling Stone’s implicit message to the unsophisticated plebians was clear—–us Grand Funk fans were just too stupid to appreciate what was supposed to pass for good rock and roll. And, Rolling Stone on occasion went out of its way to slam Grand Funk, too, employing writers outside the music world as “hit men” to level a particularly nauseating brand of callous journalism in its reviews. An example of this was during the Summer of 1971 when the band was riding a huge wave of popularity that it played one of its biggest shows ever at Shea Stadium. In a mere 72 hours, GFR sold out the stadium for a two night appearance, breaking the Beatles record at that venue which still stands today. In preparation for the shows, Rolling Stone assigned an astrophysicist , and magazine staff science journalist, Timothy Ferris, to cover the concert for Rolling Stone. Not a music journalist (like Dave Marsh) but a wordy intellectual elitist astrophysicist to write a review for us dumbass fans to try to read and decipher. Ferris wasted no time in launching a preemptive strike against Grand Funk even before the day of the first concert announcing the band in a pejorative way as “The World’s Biggest Transistor Radio”. Without even hearing a note or song of the concert, Ferris mused “Is This Band Terrible?” Ferris went on to dazzle readers with a flurry of bloated multisyllable words, cascading cryptic catchphrases, references to the Pirates of Penzance, drinking wine, and an assortment of turgid “bitchy” quips that made everyone dizzy and scratching their heads wondering what the hell he was talking about. All we could make out of it was that it didn’t sound very positive for Grand Funk Railroad. I remember reading the article three or four times myself trying to make some sense of it, but the damn words were much too big and flatulent for my Neanderthal brain, which is probably why Mr. Ferris wrote it that way in the first place. But this is how Rolling Stone rolled back in the day when it came to Grand Funk Railroad. They didn’t like them and it showed. It wasn’t surprising to anyone who was a devotee of rock music back in the day that Grand Funk never made the precious cover of the Rolling Stone. Wenner, owner of Rolling Stone back in the time GFR was so successful, who went on to serve as Founder and Major Domo of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, pulling strings and influencing minds along the way, hated the Funksters too, and this antipathy, it can be assured, has played an instrumental role in the ongoing exclusion of the band for Hall Of Fame consideration, not to mention compromising their rightful place in their standing as an all-time elite rock band.

Yeah, damn right…it stinks!

But, there’s another reason, too, Grand Funk has been shafted as an iconic rock ensemble worthy of the Hall of Fame, and that can be blamed, in part, on its former Manager, Terry Knight. Knight, GFR’s original Manager, a failed musician and carnival huckster trying hard to suck up the glory of another’s fame and success, enjoyed antagonizing critics, making them furious with rude gestures and comments. He refused to allow band members to do interviews with trade magazines and music journalists. When Rolling Stone published its unflattering 1971 article before the Shea Stadium concerts, Knight later took out a full page ad in newspapers and Cashbox Magazine giving critics a photo of “The Finger”. We all know how this kind of sophomoric behavior resonated with Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, the big-brained critic, Ferris, and the plenitude of music writers around the world who understood, apparently far more than Knight, that the power of the pen can cripple as much as canonize. Terry Knight failed to realize these are the kind of people who hold a grudge.

And, then, on top of that, Knight methodically and systematically stole Grand Funk’s money and thereafter even had the audacity to sue the band. Knight himself played a critical part in driving a wedge between members of Grand Funk Railroad, creating riffs and ultimately causing the demise of the original band. This sordid little chapter of Grand Funk history has generated nothing but negativity in the minds of many power brokers in the music industry, including those who make decisions on an artist’s place in history.

But, tell me honestly, should members of Grand Funk Railroad suffer the indignity of exclusion from a place in rock and roll royalty because of circumstances beyond their control? To me, this is much like the continuing ridiculousness of keeping Pete Rose out of baseball’s Hall Of Fame except that Grand Funk, unlike Pete, hasn’t done anything improper.

So, as Don Henley might suggest, let’s get to “the heart of the matter”. What’s really keeping Grand Funk out of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? Really……

Submitted for your consideration:

THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME IS A FLIMFLAM ORGANIZATION CONTROLLED BY AN ELITEST OUT OF TOUCH BUNCH OF RASCALLIONS WHO HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT PREMIER ROCK MUSIC IS.

There, I said it, and I have lots of evidence to back it up. Plus a whole legion of music fans who know their rock n roll every bit as well as Jann Wenner, Timothy Ferris, and the persnickety curmudgeons who make up the various selection committees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite millions of albums sold, the legendary concerts, and being immortalized as the rock band for blue-collar America, Grand Funk still gets no love from those who make nominating decisions at the Hall. Just look at some of the recent inductions made by the Hall of Fame Nominating and Selection Committees and one can understand the exasperation felt by fans. (Quick, name one rock and roll song Madonna ever released). The place isn’t the Hall Of Fame, it’s a Crock of Shame. And, sadly, as Don Brewer and Mark Farner have sagely observed when asked about the ongoing snub, they chalk it up to nothing more than politics.

“In my opinion”, states Brewer, it’s a political thing, controlled by Rolling Stone Magazine. Everyone in the Hall of Fame is a Rolling Stone darling. Thus, we’ll never be in there.” Farner, far more blunt and to the point, tells us that he’s not about to kiss Jann Wenner’s ass to get into the Hall. Grand Funk wasn’t that kind of band in the past, and neither are they now.

High fives to that!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame insists to this day that Jann Wenner never played any part in who made, or makes, it into the Hall, and never played any active role in the nomination process, including any consideration for Grand Funk, but, to me that’s like Jerry told Kramer in one episode of “Seinfeld”, “That’s Kooky-Talk”. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Wenner pulled copious strings and exerted huge influence on his minions at the Hall of Fame, and this man, who was known in circles to hold a grudge, most assuredly naysayed any favorable mention of Grand Funk Railroad for a possible place in his beloved repository of musical madness.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame years ago released a thumbnail description of the alleged criteria used to nominate and induct potential members. It states that inductees are “{A}rtists who in their careers have created music whose originality, impact, and influence has changed the course of rock and roll.” The statement goes on to read that the “(Goal) is to connect rock and roll fans with music and artists they love and preserve and protect historical artifacts and records.”

Wow, that is some virtuous undertaking there. Certainly a high bar to for one to levitate to. . (Pure sarcasm).

Nevertheless, even if that bushwa was true, you know it and I know it——- Grand Funk checks all the boxes there.

Curiously enough, though, in a bit of slippery semantical tomfoolery, some members of the Nominating Committee have tried to justify its refusal not to nominate Grand Funk by claiming the band never really influenced anyone. I would lay me down and roll around on the floor laughing hysterically if this kind of misdirection wasn’t so pathetically in error. The influence Grand Funk Railroad left on the Music World is profound and undeniable. They left a deep and lasting influence that was inspirational in providing the template of funk mixed with stone cold rock that would allow bands like Hall of Fame inductees VanHalen and the Red Hot Chilis to thrive and reach eventual superstardom. Grand Funk was Zeppelin before Zeppelin. They have an influence on musicians and fans alike that endures far beyond their long list of hit singles and albums. To claim that Grand Funk never influenced anyone is like saying morning sunshine never influenced a pitch black night.

With all the evasive and slippery semantics practiced by its team of pickers, one has to ask “Is the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame even a legitimate entity in today’s world of music? Sadly, I think not. It’s decisions are heavily biased, born of arrogance and shortsightedness. It caters to Woke agendas, bringing down shame and feelings of unworthiness on long-serving rock artists. Its hinky operation has grown into a full blown insult to all true fans of the rock and roll genre.

In short, the place stinks and I wouldn’t spend a penny to tour the premises.

And, while many on the HOF Nominating Committee are clearly clueless as to what constitutes genuine rock music, I can’t help but note that respected musicians like Dave Grohl and Linda Perry are members of the Selection Committee.

Guys, you need to step up your Game.

Now that I’ve thought about it, what they SHOULD do at the Hall is take down the damn sign that abuts the building and put up a new one that simply says “Music Hall Of Fame”. Or “Watered Down Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.” Or “Everybody Gets In But Grand Funk Hall Of Fame.” What started out in 1985 as a wonderful tribute to a specific blissful category of music with amazing powerhouse artists who pranced and strutted and rocked us joyfully has now become a homogenized joke, a stinky charade, and the biggest Joke perhaps of all is the continued exclusion of Grand Funk Railroad.

o

Published by

David Hopkins

Retired journalist and health club Administrator. Sports and Entertainment blogger with an eye on American politics.

2 thoughts on “THE EXCRABLE EXCLUSION OF GRAND FUNK RAILROAD FROM THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME”

  1. Well said and defined to the tee!
    ‘For as long as dumbwitted individuals are being dictated as to what and how things should be done (in favor of course) by those who hold the reins. GFR and fans alike would never see the light of day. Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame should be rename; “Rap n Rant Hall Of Shame”, instead!

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  2. To say that Grand Funk Railroad never influenced anyone should just take a look at the Stoner Rock Generation of today! Thousands of young, long haired musicians who knell at the alter of bands like Grand Funk, Mountain, the James Gang, Black Sabbath and others of that early ‘70s!

    Like

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