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These Chicago Groups Deserve To Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 9, 2015 5:17PM

Cheap Trick photo via Legacy Recordings

When the list of this year's list of Rock And Roll Hall Of Nominees came out there was a strong showing by three local acts that are truly deserving of membership.

One local band on this year's list of candidates has been cruelly overlooked year after year. Cheap Trick has played a heavy role in constructing the rock and roll sounds you hear today, and the trio of their first three albums in the '70s still serves as a template for anyone wanting to graft power pop sweetness onto hard rock heaviness. Year after year they've been passed over, and year after year there has been a gnashing of teeth and wailing from their not insubstantial fan base. During this year's induction ceremony I took to Twitter to register how criminal this was—a move that actually led to a local merchant buying an ad in public space to promote the band's inclusion. I'm going to guess that between that and Dave Grohl's offical and public approval of the legendary group this year, the Hall Of Fame realized Cheap Trick's time had come and had to nominate them. That had to be it, right?

Criminal though Cheap Trick's exclusion was up until this point, I was stunned to see that Chicago native Chaka Khan is also still not in the Hall Of Fame—a mistake that will surely be corrected through her nomination this year. Khan's early career with Rufus helped define funk and R&B in the '70s, and was kick started when Stevie Wonder handed them "Tell Me Something Good," helping their careers blow up. While with Rufus, Khan released her first solo album, including "I'm Every Woman," a stone cold classic that found new life when a new soul diva by the name of Whitney Houston covered it years later.

Rufus and Khan split for good in the '80s, but their swan song was "Ain't Nobody," from the Breakin' soundtrack, so it wasn't exactly a bad way for the partnership to go out. Khan's solo career during that decade continued to bring a certain amount of genuine soul to a period where too many of her compatriots from the '70s were turning to cold, lifeless compositions in an attempt to keep up with the times. Her cover of Prince's "I Feel For You" in 1984 actually made the Purple One's song even sexier, no small feat, while still managing to bend the more mechanical sound of the time to her will.

The third Chicago act nominated this year is ... Chicago! And while I understand most people can only envision the band in their treacly mid-'80s ballad guise, the group was actually once a pretty formidable talent willing to push the boundaries of the music they played. The band was originally named Chicago Transit Authority until the actual CTA threatened legal action; that's right, Chicago pissed off the CTA, so at least there's one reason for you to like them.

But chances are you don't actually hate everything they've done. Take "25 Or 6 To 4" off the band's second album Chicago II. It's got a drive and aggression, punctuated by precise horn arrangements, that somehow manages to feel like a punk rock prog classic, even many years later. And the band could positively switch gears and swing too; 1972's "Saturday In The Park" is still one of the top summer strut songs of all time.

Chicago also gets points for hiring Peter Schivarelli, a former Department of Streets and Sanitation employee, as their manager. Schivarelli would go on to also open Demon Dogs, the legendary and now sadly deceased hot dog stand, visited by many a young malcontent shopping for independent records at the Wax Trax store that used to be down the street. So let's strike the '80s and beyond from the record and simply say that Chicago deserves to be inducated into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame based on the above points. And, OK, and they're also one of the best selling bands of all time, but who cares about that?

I admit, I'm also pulling for nominees Steve Miller (from Milwaukee, Winsconsin) and Janet Jackson (from Gary, Indiana) as well. It'd be great to have a ceremony that focuses on the great music the Midwest has delivered, instead of concentrating on the coasts.

It's also worth noting that The Smashing Pumkpins would've been eligible this year, but didn't make it on the ballot. Sadly we won't be able to get Billy Corgan's off-the-cuff reaction to this surely crushing news.

The full list of nominees to the 2016 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is:

Cheap Trick
Deep Purple
The Cars
Chaka Khan
The JB's
Janet Jackson
Los Lobos
Steve Miller
Nine Inch Nails
The Smiths
The Spinners