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Miles Davis: Welcome to Jazz-Rock

Miles Davis

On March 13 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame added another five musical acts to its growing list of honorees: heavy metal progenitors Black Sabbath, new wavers Blondie, Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, British punks the Sex Pistols and legendary rock ‘n’ roller Miles Davis. Before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had even booked the room at the Waldorf-Astoria where the induction ceremony was held, folks were abuzz at the idea: Miles Davis enshrined as a rocker? What does that say about jazz? What does that say about rock? Really, no one has anything to worry or complain about. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has little to do with rock ‘n’ roll music. Just take a look at the list of inductees the Hall’s been adding since 1986.

Stevie Wonder can out sing damn near anybody any day, and he has more soul than most church choirs I’ve heard, but I’ve never once heard Wonder play rock ‘n’ roll. Yet in 1989 Wonder got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the Temptations and Otis Redding. (Dion and the Rolling Stones, that year’s other two inductees, and bona fide rock artists, were outnumbered by soul singers three to two!) Bob Marley influenced rockers from Eric Clapton to the Police, but Marley and the Wailers played reggae, period. And Marley passed for entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Johnny Cash? 1992. Earth, Wind & Fire? 2000.

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