LOS ANGELES — The cries of progressive rock fans the world over have been heard: Rush has been nominated to join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thirteen years after the Canadian power trio became eligible and 44 years after it formed, the band responsible for songs such as “Tom Sawyer,” “Spirit of the Radio,” the epic concept album “2112,” and dozens of gold records has made the first cut on its way to the theoretically hallowed walls of the Cleveland historical institution.
It couldn’t come too soon for the group’s very vocal (and, as evidenced by its sold-out tours, very large) fan base, which has waged campaigns to get their favorite band acknowledged over the years — and has become increasingly embittered by the perceived oversight. Practically every day before Wednesday night’s news, a Rush fan has taken to Twitter to protest the band’s omission from the Hall, and many had already resigned themselves to a repeat this year.
Along the way there had been petitions, one of which laid out a convincing argument: “We believe that Rush has been sorely overlooked in the United States for far too long by the popular media and the critics. The Hall of Fame was founded to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions to the world of rock music. Inducting Rush will legitimize that claim by recognizing one band in particular that has contributed dramatically to the rock genre while continually preserving its integrity.”
Among the reasons Rush deserved inclusion, according to the petition:
■ Rush has 22 consecutive gold records, and is fourth behind the Beatles, Stones, and Kiss in all-time gold records for a band. Fourteen of those albums have gone platinum.
■ Rush has inspired such bands as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, The Tragically Hip, Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, Queensryche, and many more.
■ Rush’s lineup has remained unchanged since their first major tour in 1974.
■ Rush has consistently put out records that reflect their own artistic growth and change, without compromising the band’s integrity for the sake of sales.
Has Rush earned its place? That’s a question for another time. But it should be acknowledged that Rush and other prog rock bands have, indeed, been oft overlooked by the Rock Hall kingpins.
Rolling Stone publisher/ Rock Hall co-founder Jann Wenner’s empire once published in a record guide a description of singer Geddy Lee’s voice as sounding like “a cross between Donald Duck and Robert Plant.” The guide awarded the band’s “A Farewell to Kings” zero stars, which was defined in the book as being “Worthless. Records that need never (or should never) have been created.” So there’s a history between the two camps.
But Rush fans have a point. Anyone who listens to the acrobatic instrumental “YYZ,” from “Moving Pictures,” and doesn’t draw a direct line to Metallica, Dream Theater, and a generation of Rush’s inheritors is ignoring a big chunk of heavy metal’s evolution. And it could also be argued that Rush’s vision, and the way it included ideas from not only British metal of the late 1960s but structures from European classical music, was as singular an influence on rock’s evolution as fellow nominees Heart or Deep Purple.