Trying in Vain to Find Logic in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Induction Process
|Deep Purple, Mark I|
Ritchie Blackmore, Rod Evans, Ian Paice, Jon Lord
and Nick Simper
As is the case with many bands, Deep Purple included many musicians over the years, which presents the problem of deciding which members are to be honored. Usually the Hall recognizes members of "classic" lineups, whatever that means. In the case of Deep Purple, there are a number of omissions for various reasons. Current members Steve Morse (who replaced the notoriously cantankerous founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in 1994) and Don Airey (who took over the keyboard chair from Jon Lord in 2002) are not included, in spite of their years in the band. In addition, in spite of their popularity (largely due to other projects) the one-album stints of guitarist Tommy Bolin and vocalist Joe Lynn Turner were not enough to warrant inclusion. In the end, the Hall chose to induct all of the members from the band's inception in 1968 up to the departure of Blackmore in 1975.
All except for Nick Simper, the founding bassist who played on the first three albums including the hit single, "Hush."
Commenting in Classic Rock magazine, Simper himself seemed to take the snub in stride and did not blame his old bandmates. "Yes, it is a little strange that I am [the] only one from Marks I, II and III being left out, but I shan't lose any sleep over this. It's not as if I need to be given this award to know what we did in Deep Purple made an impact. And I'm sure it wasn't a decision that came from the band.”
Even considering that the band did not achieve their greatest success or even their defining sound until his departure in 1969, his exclusion is quite inexplicable. After all, vocalist Rod Evans, whose tenure with band ended at the same time as Simper's, is being honored, in spite of controversy and a lawsuit around fraudulent use of the band name.
Interviews with numerous Hall of Fame acts back up Simper's belief that the groups themselves do not necessarily choose the inductees. I have tried to find the specific rules as to who is to be included, and who makes these decisions, but in vain. Even searching for consistency in the list of members proves to be problematic. In my search for a set of criteria, I found numerous examples which simply contradict each other.
The only thing I ever found that suggested a concrete rule was in the case of Jack Sherman, erstwhile guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sherman was vocal in his disappointment at being snubbed when the band was inducted in 2012. Though the decision was ostensibly made by the Hall of Fame, Sherman believed that the decision was influenced by the band itself. Told that induction was limited to "original and current members, and those who played on multiple records," he believed that it was technicality designed to exclude him and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, who played on the band's 1995 album One Hot Minute when long-time member John Frusciante had taken a hiatus from the band. By these criteria, Sherman, who played on the first album but was not a founding member, did not qualify. In a turn of events that must have been particularly insulting, current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who had only a full member of the band for three years and had been all of four years old when the band was founded in 1983, did receive the honor of inclusion. This strange technicality made Klinghoffer the youngest member of the Hall of Fame.
|Stu doesn't need your pity.|
Now, I do not intend to slight Klinghoffer, but personally, I believe that Haynes is far more deserving of the honor.
Which leads me back to the case of Nick Simper. Before Deep Purple, Simper had played with a number of working English bands in the early sixties. Notably, he was the last bass player for Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, a hugely influential group whose single "Shakin' All Over" became a rock staple and was famously covered by The Who on their Live at Leeds album. Admittedly a late-comer to the group, Simper had the sad distinction of being present (and injured) in the car crash that killed Kidd. He would later do a stint in Screaming Lord Such and the Savages before playing in the Flower Pot Men with Jon Lord.
It was Lord who recommended Simper to fill the role as bassist in Deep Purple, a band that he was starting with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. When singer Rod Evans came to audition, he brought along his drummer Ian Paice, and the lineup of what would later be known as Deep Purple, Mark I, would be complete. That lineup, which played a blend of proto-progressive and psychedelic rock, would find modest success and tour internationally.
Simper and Evans would be fired in 1969 due to the desire of Blackmore, Lord, and Paice to take the band in a heavier direction. Simper would play with a number of bands over the ensuing decades, but would never find the same level of success. Evans would resurface in Captain Beyond, a band that included former members of Iron Butterfly and Johnny Winter's band. Not quite a "supergroup", they were at the very least a "pretty-nifty-group." They released a couple of well received, if not hot selling albums, before Evans left the music business to work as a respiratory therapist.
If anyone can shed light on this, please let me know. Looking at these and other cases, it seems to me that the decisions of who gets in and stays home and bitterly watches the ceremony on TV, are taken on a case by case basis and based more on whims than specific criteria. We may never know the answer, but the case of Nick Simper once again highlights the irregularities and inconsistencies of the induction process of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
(¹The only reason I can imagine for this strange paradox is that Welnick joined a band that played together more or less continuously for several decades, as opposed to Haynes who joined a band that was reforming after having been broken up for several years. It's not much, but it's all I got, and it would explain the absence of Deep Purple's Steve Morse and Don Airey.)