Our final inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2015 class is the soulful singer-songwriter Bill Withers, who recorded a handful of enduring classics during a career that spanned just 15 years. Withers retired abruptly in 1985 over his frustrations with record executives trying to micromanage his career.
Withers released eight studio albums during that span. His three best-known songs — ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ‘Lean on Me,’ and ‘Lovely Day’ — are the sort of soulful staples people list among their all-time favorites. He also wrote and recorded the yacht rock classic ‘Just the Two Of Us’ with Grover Washington, Jr. on sax.
I don’t know much about Stevie Ray Vaughan, but the few minutes I spent reading about him and watching him perform in order to write this post made me an instant fan.
Vaughan is credited with leading the blues revival in the 80s, and is considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time by, well, the greatest guitar players of all time.
As such, he’s a no-brainer for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and made it in the first time he was nominated, in his sixth year of eligibility.
Ringo Starr is the next inductee from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2015, and his inclusion is certainly an example of the Hall getting sentimental.
Starr was the last of The Beatles not in the Hall as a solo artist, with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison having been inducted in 1994, 1999 and 2004, respectively. Harrison made it in three years after his death, and I could see the Hall wanting to avoid another posthumous ceremony.
I was shocked to see Lou Reed’s name on the list of 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, a class formed a full 17 years after his initial eligibility. Reed was nominated in 2000 and 2001 before finally making it in 2015.
The long delay made more sense after I learned The Velvet Underground was inducted back in 1996. Even that seminal group had to wait its turn, however, with nominations each of its first five years of eligibility before getting voted in.
These Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posts often surface acts that are musical blindspots (deafspots?) for me. Such is the case with the next 2015 inductee, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Formed by Chicago-based harmonica-player/singer Paul Butterfield in 1963, the band recorded seven well-received albums before breaking up in 1971. They also made a splash as a live act, playing many festivals in the late 60s, including Woodstock.