With the original lineup of KISS crumbling in the public eye this weekend, should we be pointing fingers at KISS or should the blame fall on the sham known as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Is there a clear-cut answer? When looking closely, KISS' recent drama seems oddly similar to that of Guns N' Roses and Van Halen.
The elitist jackass group of Rock and Rock Hall of Fame voters finally redeemed an injustice snub by voting the original incarnation of KISS into this year's ceremony. Think about it, a "prestigious group of private voters" ignored the world's biggest rock band from the mid-to-late 70s after 15 years of eligibility. Forty years into the future, and the group continues to enamor minions of the KISS Army still infatuated by the mystique of The Demon, The Spaceman, The Starchild, and The Catman.
The drama began when the Hall of Fame opted to only induct the original four members. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanely found the snub of the band's 80s and current incarnation to be an insult to the band's legacy.
When the original lineup couldn't reach a mutual agreement, Ace Frehely and Peter Criss made public statements to forewarn fans from purchasing expensive tickets to the ceremony. A mutual statement from Simmons and Stanley resulted in the band's refusal to perform at its own ceremony. So here we are again—witnessing a legendary band fall apart with the burden of its hall of fame ceremony. Doesn't this story sound familiar? As an establishment known for disrespecting and ignoring many of rock's greatest artists, they sure have a tendency to induct bands at the worst of times. Is this truly a move to celebrate incredible legacies or is this an act of voters trying to subtly mock the fans by embarrassing the bands they demand with the burden of their induction?
Van Halen set the pedestal for musical excellence as Eddie Van Halen single-handedly changed the dynamics of guitar playing, yet the Hall of Fame snubbed the band for nearly five years. When things were growing awry within the Van Halen camp, including Eddie's rehab stint, however, the voters suddenly felt the need to acknowledge the group's musical legacy. What happened? Neither Eddie nor his brother Alex Van Halen showed up to the ceremony. There were no actual Van Halen's present to celebrate Van Halen. Original frontman David Lee Roth refused to show up after the Hall of Fame denied him a performance. Instead, the powers behind the scenes opted to include the disastrous showing from Velvet Revolver. Only Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar showed up to the ceremony and they performed a few tracks from the Van Hagar era. The entire event reeked of embarrassment while it added a new stain to the band's already dramatic history.
Two years ago, Guns N' Roses were voted into the Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility. Few bands personified the rebellious attitude of rock n' roll with such snarl, yet the bad-blood existing between its original lineup is as recognized as its musical accomplishments. While Axl Rose continues to tour with replacements behind the name Guns N' Roses, none of the original members played music together in the same room since 1990. The tension leading up to the event aggravated millions of fans, especially after Axl confessed his "Damned, if I do, damned, if I don't" attitude about the event. Izzy Stradlin ignored his invitation opting to keep his solo career and low-profile lifestyle afloat without the drama. Yet, with the event reeking of disaster, the remaining members managed to put something spectacular together in the eyes of adversity. Slash, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler, Gilby Clarke, and Matt Sorum teamed with Slash's incredible vocalist Myles Kennedy for a miraculous renditions of "Mr. Brownstone," "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Paradise City" giving longtime fans something cheer about.
Here we are again, the befallen hammer has dropped on KISS for this year's ceremony. From the outside looking in, it's beyond disappointing witnessing a group of 60-year old men create such a mess when fans only want to relive the magic one more time. Ultimately, these decisions come at the expense of longtime fans clamoring to celebrate the musical accomplishments of the beloved lineup. If these musicians could set aside their differences for one night, these public nightmares wouldn't occur.
However, when music fans hear the words "Rock and Rock Hall of Fame," the prestigious title sounds like an official declaration of musical excellence. As if music is some sort of recreational sport in the vein of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. Music is a form of expression; the only statistics included are volume, tempos, and album sales. We're not talking about an official representation voicing the fans of rock, this is a private company headed by a small group of decision makers. Rock and roll carries such an aura of freedom and expression unlike any genre in the history of music. So when a group of music elitists and biased journalists copyright and mash the terms "Rock and Roll" and "Hall of Fame" together, the title holds a responsibility to properly represent the greatest artists of its genre. Yet, historically influential bands such as Deep Purple and Cheap Trick are still denied recognition from this so-called music establishment. What guitar player in the last 40-years didn't learn "Smoke on the Water" as one their first riffs?
Make no mistake; this is a cash grab to profit off the dysfunction of rock's greatest groups. While reeking in the disappointment of millions of fans, there is a hidden agenda to discredit these bands publicly despite their musical bodywork. Do you think the Hall of Fame is complaining with the press coverage of KISS' drama during this year's ceremony? Regardless of the band's refusal to perform, fans will still tune in with last-minute hope of a performance or curiosity to witness a train wreck occur on stage. Don't forget, the original lineup of KISS still existed during its first year of eligibility. Yet, the Hall of Fame needed to wait until after its members disbanded. This whole scenario-involving KISS should not exist; this band deserved an immediate induction during its first year of eligibility. What the hell is the motive behind their criteria? Why is there 25-year eligibility in the first place? Why do we need to wait a quarter of a century to celebrate the spectacular work of rock musicians? Why was ABBA inducted into "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" before Stevie Ray Vaughan? For the sake of the fans, let's hope the original KISS spites this private ceremony with a memorable performance that will leave them all peacefully rocking all night, one more time.