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October 21, 2014

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Columnist Spencer Patterson: Rock Hall out of tune with latest class

Last year at this time, I praised the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters for being forward thinking.

The Class of 2003 included the Clash, the Police, Elvis Costello & The Attractions and AC/DC, serving notice that the Hall might actually embrace acts beyond its usual fare -- you know, 1960s and '70s British blues-rockers and American singer-songwriters (aka old white guys).

But on Monday, the Hall of Fame took a giant step backward, inducting Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, ZZ Top, Traffic and George Harrison in a ceremony that proved its voters have no true sense of musical timing.

Thankfully, Prince was also in the Class of 2004, providing a glimmer of hope for the future. But when you consider who could have joined the Purple One onstage this time, it's tough to set aside 2 1/2 hours to watch VH1's Sunday night broadcast of the event, which kicks off at 8:30 local time.

How does a class of Prince, the Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath and Patti Smith sound? What about Iggy & The Stooges? Or Gram Parsons?

All those acts were eligible nominees, having waited the required 25 years since the release of their first recording (or in Black Sabbath's case, a ridiculous 33 years).

Not that I have any particular dislike of Seger, Browne, ZZ Top, Traffic or Harrison. I'm actually a fan of some of them, and own albums by four of the five. But if Hall of Fame entry is determined by an act's musical impact, that quintet can't compare to the Sex Pistols, the Stooges or Sabbath, in particular.

We're talking about two bands that helped create punk rock, and another that practically invented heavy metal. Listen to almost any rock band today and their roots are sure to lie somewhere among that influential trio.

Instead, we have to listen to Kid Rock drone on about Seger being the "most underrated singer-songwriter of our time" in his induction speech. Yeah, I especially love the song in the truck commercial.

Sure, Browne wrote "Running on Empty," "The Pretender" and the Eagles' "Take it Easy" (with Glenn Frey). ZZ Top was a solid blues band in its early years, led by topnotch guitarist Billy Gibbons. Traffic had Steve Winwood, and a handful of strong albums to its credit. And Harrison was an ex-Beatle who released one absolutely glorious set ("All Things Must Pass") and a bunch of spotty ones.

But in the end, with the exception of Harrison's work with the Beatles (for which he was inducted in 1988), those artists broke little musical ground.

So while I'm not suggesting they wouldn't be worthy additions to the Hall at some point, couldn't they have been inducted in stages over a series of years, while more deserving artists were recognized first?

Instead, we're left to root on Prince, await the inevitable inductions of John Mellencamp and Lynyrd Skynyrd next year, and wonder what will become of the Smiths, the Cure, the Pretenders and Sonic Youth when those and other groundbreaking bands become eligible in the next few years.

Odds are they'll get stuck in a long line of modern rockers, forced to wait until the Hall's old-boy network stumbles onto a concept known as musical progress.

On sale

Christina Aguilera plays the Aladdin Theatre for the Perfoming Arts on May 21 with opening act Chingy. Tickets are $47.35, $68.35 and $89.35 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Aladdin box office, at TicketMaster outlets by phone at 785-5000 and 474-4000 and at www.ticketmaster.com.

Gipsy Kings land at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 3. Tickets are $40 and $65 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Mandalay Bay box office and through TicketMaster.

JC Chasez stops at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on April 21. Tickets are $20 and $30 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the House of Blues box office, through TicketMaster and at www.hob.com.

Henry Rollins performs a spoken-word set at the House of Blues on April 18. Tickets are $20 and were to go on sale today at 10 a.m. through the House of Blues box office and TicketMaster.

Tickets are on sale now for two other recent additions to the House of Blues concert calendar: Westside Connection featuring Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC on April 17 ($35-$45) and Alejandro Sanz on May 18 ($30-$50).

Two scheduled House of Blues concerts have been canceled: Mos Def on March 28 and the Roots on April 7. Refunds for Mos Def are available at points of purchase.

Roots' tickets were slated to go on sale this weekend.

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