Our View: When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, Illinois rules

The state’s first Hall of Fame class will be inducted this summer

The building at 9 West Cass street sits vacant Monday, May 6, 2019, in Joliet, Ill. The building will be the future site of the Illinois Rock and Roll Museum.

Detroit has Aretha, Diana and the Temptations.

Memphis has Elvis.

Liverpool has the Beatles.

Feeling jealous? Don’t worry. Illinois isn’t exactly chopped liver when it comes to producing top-flight musical talent, a fact that was driven home by news that the Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Route 66 will host its inaugural induction ceremony on Aug. 31 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet. The ceremony originally was scheduled for spring 2020, but like so many events was a casualty of COVID-19.

The first members of the Hall of Fame will be bands REO Speedwagon, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Ides of March and The Buckinghams; bluesmen Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters; deejays Dick Biondi and Larry Lujack; Chicago radio powerhouse WLS-AM; and Chess Records, a Chicago blues label founded by two brothers who immigrated from Poland.

Tickets are available through the museum website, www.roadtorock.com, or the Rialto website, rialtosquare.com. Scheduled to perform at the induction ceremony are REO Speedwagon, Ides of March, Jimy Sohns of the Shadows of Knight and the Millennials. More performers will be added.

Disappointed that your favorite artist didn’t make the cut for the first Hall of Fame class? Don’t fret. You’ll have a chance to help select future inductees. The museum will solicit nominations through public surveys. Nominations will be reviewed by a committee to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria. Museum members will then vote on the nominations.

To its credit, the museum seems to take a broad view of rock ‘n’ roll. So, too, the Hall of Fame eligibility criteria simply require nominees to have Illinois ties, among them: being born in Illinois, starting a career in Illinois, being based in the state or recording in the state.

Nominations are accepted in five categories: band or solo artist, radio station, deejay, record label and songwriter. Performance nominees must have released their first commercial work at least 20 years ago, and deejays and recording companies must have been in business for at least 20 years.

Some all-time greats didn’t make the cut for the inaugural Hall of Fame Class, including Chuck Berry, who recorded with Chess Records; Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, who was born in Evanston; versatile Dan Fogelberg, the pride of Peoria; and singer-songwriter John Prine, who grew up in Maywood. Prine was an early victim of COVID-19.

Fortunately, the rules are flexible enough to accommodate artists you might not instantly associate with rock ‘n’ roll. Someone such as legendary soul singer Sam Cooke, who was born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago as a child. Or trumpeter Miles Davis, who was raised in East St. Louis. How about Benny Goodman, the “King of Swing,” whose training included time spent in the boys band at Chicago’s Hull House? (Without swing, there’s probably no rock.) There’s surely a place for Minnie Riperton, a native of the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. And maybe even for Alison Krauss, the Champaign-born bluegrass virtuoso who long ago proved her crossover appeal.

We’re just scratching the surface, of course. So nominate your favorites, and visit the museum website to learn more about memberships, which start at $35. As a member, you can shape future Hall of Fame classes.

In the meantime, deal with it, Detroit. Move over, Memphis. Live with it, Liverpool. In Illinois we rock, too.