5. The Moody Blues (1990)
British progressive rockers The Moody Blues first tasted success with their classic 1964 single “Go Now,” a #1 hit in the U.K. and Top 10 in America. Their debut album was 1965’s The Magnificent Moodies, but it was 1967’s follow-up, Days of Future Passed, that became their first bona fide smash. They’ve released sixteen albums in all, selling over fifty-five million copies in the process. Two of their LPs reached #1 in the U.S. –- 1972’s Seventh Sojourn and 1981’s Long Distance Voyager. During the peak of their global popularity in the ’70s, the main lineup was Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge, Ray Thomas and Michael Pinder, although the membership has changed over the years. Among their numerous hits are “Nights in White Satin” from 1967 (it reached #2 in the U.S.), “Tuesday Morning,” “Question,” “The Story In Your Eyes,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band), “Gemini Dream,” “The Voice” and “Your Wildest Dreams.” Their ’70s work is an elaborate, symphonic rock, which morphed into a more mainstream pop/rock sound in the ‘80s. Though 2003’s December was their last studio album, they’ve remained popular on the concert circuit. Fifty-one years have passed since this titanic musical ensemble released their first single — it’s time for The Moody Blues to be recognized for their massive body of work and outstanding contribution to rock.
Beginning with 1969’s double-platinum debut, Chicago Transit Authority, through last year’s Chicago XXXVI: Now, Chicago has released an impressive thirty-six albums. Fifteen made the Billboard Top 20, and from 1972 to 1975 they scored five straight #1 albums. Chicago’s list of hit singles is seemingly endless, and includes three chart-toppers: “If You Leave Me Now” (1976), “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” (1982) and “Look Away” (1988). Known for their energetic, uptempo, sophisticated pop, usually with prominent brass arrangements, Chicago also made some of the most endearing ballads ever recorded. With this track record of artistic and commercial success, Chicago richly deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. The band responsible for landmark singles like “25 or 6 to 4,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “Saturday in the Park,” “Baby, What a Big Surprise” and “Love Me Tomorrow” should have been enshrined in Cleveland years ago. Chicago has sold over 100 million records and two decades have passed since their first year of eligibility. They’ve yet to be nominated. Somebody is asleep at the wheel.
Diana Ross is already in the Rock Hall as a member of The Supremes, but recognition of her successful and long-running solo career is long overdue. Beginning in 1970, after her departure from The Supremes, and concluding (as of now) with 2006’s I Love You, Ross has released twenty-four studio albums, and has scored an amazing twenty-seven Top 40 hits. Six of her solo singles have reached the top: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1970), “Touch Me in the Morning” (1973), “Theme from Mahogany” (1975), “Love Hangover” (1976), “Upside Down” (1980) and her smash duet with Lionel Richie, “Endless Love” (1981). Other hits include “Remember Me,” “I’m Coming Out,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “Muscles” and “Missing You,” a poignant ballad dedicated to the late Marvin Gaye which became Ross’ final Top 10 single in America. Even into the ’80s, after American radio and MTV abandoned her, Ross was still scoring some of the biggest hits of her career overseas. Her 1985 single “Chain Reaction” barely made a dent in the U.S., but was a #1 single in the U.K and a substantial hit throughout Europe. Ross has mixed pop, R&B and dance, all with her usual style and graceful appeal. It’s puzzling she has yet to be inducted as a solo artist.
Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk have been nominated three times (2003, 2013, 2015), but have yet to receive that happy call from the foundation. The German trailblazers are another reference-point artist, so far ahead of their time it’s mind-boggling. Shockingly, 1974’s experimental and audacious Autobahn — their first artistic triumph — reached #5 on the U.S. album chart, during an era dominated by big riffed guitar rock and winsome singer-songwriters. A massive wave of electronic music noodlers who became synth-pop artists left a trail that leads directly back to Kraftwerk. The band has released ten albums overall, from their 1970 debut to 2003’s Tour de France Soundtracks, but from 1974 to 1982, Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine and Computer World represent the really vital portion of their canon. Kraftwerk’s music has a sparse, often eerie and mechanical vibe. It can be coldly remote, and at times absolutely dreamy. The precise synthesizers, electronic rhythms and the highly stylized android-geek vocal, with little sense of humor or irony, make Kraftwerk the Lieutenant Data of the ’70s. Their timeless and influential work is past-due for recognition by the Hall of Fame.
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British progressive rockers Yes formed in 1968, with their original lineup featuring John Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford. With extraordinary musical chops and a massive vision that challenged the limits of what rock could be, Yes released a string of magnificent epics in the ’70s. It’s no secret that the nominating committee has generally been disdainful of progressive rock, matching critics, who are notoriously harsh on the genre. After all, as astonishing as it may seem, it was only 2013 when Rush, one of the biggest selling bands of the last forty years with a long string of platinum albums, and who remains a massive concert draw, was inducted. As with Rush, Yes is still going strong, albeit without the same level of popularity. Over 45 years and seemingly endless lineup changes, Yes has released 21 studio albums, along with numerous live recordings. Even with lengthy and complex pieces that don’t translate well to radio airplay or single edits, they’ve still sold over 13 million albums in the U.S. alone. The peak of their artistic success came in 1971 and 1972 with the three landmark releases: The Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge. These recordings are rich with ideas — evocative, hypnotic, and packing a heavy rock and roll punch when needed. In the ’80s, they reinvented themselves far more successfully than most legacy artists could accomplish. Their 1983 pop/rock classic 90125 yielded the #1 single “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” followed by Big Generator in 1987 –- not quite as successful, but still a substantial hit. Since then, it’s die-hard fans that have kept Yes afloat. If you read a major music publication, you’d never know that Yes put out a new album in 2014. Perhaps some of the Hall of Fame’s befuddlement with Yes is their long and complicated membership history — 19 musicians have been members at one time or another, some only briefly. If Yes is inducted, which members will be along for the ride? We’ll find out eventually, because at some point Yes will have to be inducted. The nominating committee can only neglect them for so long.