Thursday, April 21, 2016

Country Artists & The Rock Hall (Updated 2018 Eligibles)

The last artist with any Country music credentials to be inducted into the Rock Hall was Wanda Jackson in 2009 (early influence category). But she started out in the Rock field, before charting Country in 1961.  Before that pianist Floyd Cramer, who played on and released many charted Country singles,  was the last to be enshrined in 2003 (session musician).

So here's a list of Country acts that are in the Rock Hall:  Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, Johnny Cash, Floyd Cramer, Chet Atkins and Bill Monroe.  You could also include Brenda Lee, although she first charted Pop.

Below I list a few Country acts that deserve to be in the Rock Hall. The naysayers will say these artists didn't "Rock" enough. And that Country has its own Hall of Fame. But the influence on "Rock and Roll" that Country music has continues to be underestimated.   All but the last 2 names are in the Country Hall of Fame.  And just for fun, a rating from 1-10 on their chances of induction.

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Patsy Cline - Her Countrypolitan records reached across that market and crossed over to the Pop charts.  That she was one of Country's greatest voices, whose style  doesn't hurt either.  9

Willie Nelson - Unlike Johnny Cash, Nelson doesn't have a Sun era in his catalog.  But the Outlaw image + and his incredible catalog, which has been tapped by Rock artists, would make him an easy choice.  10

Glen Campbell - His early work as a session musician seems to be forgotten. But his polished Country/Pop crossed over between both in the late 60's/70's.      10

Conway Twitty - I bet no one remembers that Twitty was once a nominee, in 2005.  His early Rock and Roll records are underrated.  His run of Country hits in the 70's/early 80's was matched by few.    8

Kris Kristofferson - Probably more for his songwriting than his recordings.  Kristofferson changed the landscape in Nashville with his frank way of writing.  And his songs have been covered by numerous Rock names.    10

Emmylou Harris - The Queen of Americana, she sang with Gram Parsons on his 2 solo albums, before releasing a bunch of Country-Rock leaning albums that went on to become a blueprint  for that genre.  10

Dolly Parton - Jack White has covered her, and Lars Ulrich is a fan, so it's not too much of a stretch to see her get some support.  Outside of Willie Nelson, she's the biggest cultural icon on this list.  But, unlike Emmylou doesn't have some sort of Rock moment in her background.  8

Merle Haggard - One of the genre's Top 3 songwriters.  Haggard's catalog, much like Willie Nelson's, is diverse, although not as eclectic as Nelson's.  The "Bakersfield Sound", which he helped popularized, had elements of Rock in it, even if he never quite made "Rock" records.  Yet, his songs have reached many artists outside of Country.    8

Waylon Jennings - Personifies the Outlaw image more than anyone.  Some of Jennings best records contained more "Rock" elements than almost anyone on this other than Conway.    8

Buck Owens - Could be the most underrated Country giant of all time.  Hee Haw hurt his image.  Nashville waited forever to induct him into the Country Hall.  But he's one of the originators of the "Bakersfield Sound" (along with Merle Haggard), and those 60's records did indeed influence a bunch of Country-Rockers.    7

George Jones - The greatest of all Country voices, Jones had his Rock fans as well.  Every one from Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and Gram Parsons.  Jones cut some Rockabilly sides in the 50's that were pretty good, even if Jones never dabbled in that field again.   7

Garth Brooks - He wasn't just the biggest Country act of the 90's, he was also the biggest Pop act.  But his impact was mostly in the Country field, where it's still being felt today.  Some of his records did have a Pop/Rock feel to them, but I don't think it will be enough to get him nominated anytime soon.  7

Owen Bradley - Perhaps Country music's greatest Producer.  Behind the boards on those Patsy Cline hits and an architect of the "Nashville Sound".     10

Billy Sherrill - Architect of the Countrypolitan sound, he's best known for his work on records by George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, Johnny Paycheck, Tanya Tucker and many more.  7

Steve Earle - If Emmylou Harris is the Queen of the Americana genre, than Earle could be the King.  Since breaking through in 1986 with Guitar Town, he's put out a consistent batch of critically lauded Country-Rock albums.  But being critically lauded rarely gets you in the Rock Hall.  8

Lucinda Williams - See the above comments regarding being a critical fave.  If Emmylou is the Queen of Americana, than Lucinda is a close second.  But the fact that she's been previously considered by the NomCom still doesn't mean she'll ever get in.   8




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