I guess it depends on your definition of "Rock & Roll," but IMHO the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame finally got it right this year. The 2013 Class of Inductees represent a far greater range of musical styles than perhaps ever before which to me is much more indicative of "Rock & Roll," and how people feel about music.
Taking the lead is the late, great, iconic Donna Summer. I will readily admit that I am a rabid fan, but I could never understand why she was continually snubbed. While her "brand" reads disco, her range is phenomenal including rock, country, gospel, soul, and everything in between. She even won a Grammy for Rock Vocal Female for "Hot Stuff" back in her hey day ... and she did songs with Jefferson Starship, Michael Jackson, and The Boss to mention just a few notables. Why it took her death to get her in, I will never know. And why music snobs consider "dance music" to be sub-par I will never know. "I Feel Love", which like most of her music Donna also wrote, is a classic techno ground-breaker.
Other inductees this year include Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Albert King, and of course Rush. I say "of course" because people expect Rush to get in. They don't expect someone like Donna Summer to carry the label and to be honored for "Rock & Roll." But why does it matter? Why does anyone care what kind of music someone else grooves to?
Thankfully the younger generations get it. They mix musical styles like they mix clothing styles. They surf through genres as they cruise the internet. Back in my day, you had to choose ... either disco or rock, and you were forever branded. But truth be told, there really isn't much of a difference. It's all music, regardless of the brand. Hopefully this year's "class" sets the record straight.
What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU