Spheniscus presents the new Rock and Roll HOF eligibles: Part 3 of 8

Spheniscus presents the new Rock and Roll HOF eligibles: Part 3 of 8
11 Sep
Not in Hall of Fame
Regular contributor Spheniscus has brought us something that we are very excited to share with all of you. It won’t be long before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces who their Finalist for the next class and our friend from Chicago by way of Boston has put together his top 40 acts in terms of their chances who enter eligibility this year.

  1. Sophie B. Hawkins
If you love omnisexual flannel wearing rockers of the early 90s, this next artist is for you. Born on All Saints Day 1964 in Brooklyn, singer/songwriter Sophie Ballantine Hawkins exploded on the scene in 1992 with her debut album Tongues and Tails. Its main track, “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” would hit #5 on the charts and cement her as one of the leading voices that would define the early 90’s sound.

Her follow up album, 1994’s Whaler would bring Hawkins’ second hit “As I Lay Me Down” (#6 in 1995) as well as “Right Beside You”, which charted in countries throughout Europe. Her career began to lose speed with her third album 1999’s Timbre. She and Sony had disagreements on the direction of the album and it led to their splitting ways and Hawkins founding her own label, Trumpeter Swan Records and releasing the album on her own.

Now 52, she has moved away from music towards a wider variety of pursuits, including painting and a run on Broadway, where she starred as Janis Joplin in 2012’s Room 105. She has also been politically active on both sides of the aisle, rewriting her biggest hit in 2008 for Hillary Clinton and in 2012 headlining a Gay Republican’s concert.

But there is no debate that she was an important artist for the development of music at the start of the 1990s. With two hits, it is just highly unlikely she will ever get serious consideration for the Rock Hall. Still, there are a lot of us 90s kids who agree with the sentiment of her first hit.


29. House of Pain

Now that we have the one and two hit pop darlings out of the way, we get to the hip-hop/hard rock hybrid bands that I have no idea what to do with. On the plus side for these bands, there is precedent for their induction with Tupac Shakur, NWA, and Public Enemy paving the way for hip-hop and both the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers serving as crossover groups between the genres. The problem these groups have is that they don’t have the hits that the Beastie Boys and RCHP do. And, well, some ancillary issues we will be getting to in the coming acts.

The first of these bands is a Los Angeles based trio comprised of members Erik Francis Schrody, Leor Dimant, and Daniel O’Connor. Better known as Everlast, DJ Lethal, and Danny Boy, the members of House of Pain. Definitely the best hip-hop act named after a H.G. Wells novel (“The Island of Doctor Moreau”, which means at least one of them was paying attention in English class), the released only three albums. The first of which, the eponymous House of Pain had the single for which they are best known, “Jump Around”, which hit #3 in 1992.

Such a big hit was “Jump Around” that their second album, Same as it Ever Was, which has no real hits and had no real radio play, still went gold. Their final album, Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again, was not so fortunate. After this third attempt, the band broke up and went their own separate ways. Everlast embarked on a solo career, hitting the charts with solo effort “What It’s Like” and winning a Grammy in 2000 for his performance with Carlos Santana on “Put Your Lights On”. DJ Lethal and Danny Boy would go on to found the non-album producing rap super group La Coka Nostra. And while they did reunite starting in 2010, they have not put out any new music as of yet.

Still, House of Pain is hip-hop royalty and one of the earliest super successful crossover groups. This status and level of respect is why despite being a one album/one hit wonder they are this high on the list. And you will note that the two cross-over hip-hop/hard rock acts in the Hall are both comprised of white guys. That, unfortunately, still seems to matter with the voters. This will also help Linkin Park in the years to come. For now, I think they are likely to remain on the outside looking in eternally. But there is a sliver of a glimmer of a chance some day. Which is something.


28. Body Count

Generally, heavy metal is thought to be a fairly white subsection of music. And while there are black artists who have been major forces in various heavy metal bands, (William Duval of Alice in Chains, Derrick Green of Sepultura, and Eric Moore and Dean Pleasants of Suicidal Tendencies spring to mind immediately), Body Count is in many ways an outlier within the metal community. I mean, the band is made up entirely of black high school buddies from Los Angeles. Let me rephrase that. It is a band founded by one of the best-known rappers (and possible future RRHoF inductee for his solo work) Ice-T (Tracy Marrow), who got to his early 30’s and went you know what, I’ve always loved metal. A bunch of my friends from high school love metal. We should start a metal band. And so with the help of guitarist and principal writer Ernie C (Ernie Cunnigan), rhythm guitarist D-Roc the Executioner (Dennis Miles), drummer Beatmaster V (Victor Wilson), bassist Mooseman (Lloyd Roberts), sampler Sean E. Sean, and hype man Sean E. Mack the band made their debut at Lollapalooza in 1991.

They came out with their first album, the self-titled “Body Count” in 1992. To say that the album was controversial would be an understatement. They started touring in Europe and when they got to Milan, things got a bit shall we say, violent. They were performing and about to get to the most infamous song on the album (which we will get to below) when folks started spitting at Ernie C. Ice-T saw the spitters, jumped into the audience and started swinging. The concert had to be stopped and the band ended up stealing a taxi in order to escape the venue when angry fans stormed their tour bus.

Back in the states, things weren’t much better. Most of the band’s lyrics are based off of things they saw in the streets. Gang life, poverty, violence, and unfair treatment by police are common themes in their music. Which shouldn’t surprise you because when you think of Body Count, you think of one song and one song only: 1992’s “Cop Killer”. A song that was intended to be a commentary on police violence and corruption and instead seemingly came close to causing the death Tipper Gore due to a massive attack of the vapors. There was a feeling that the lyrics of the song would lead to violence against police and many police agencies, led by the Dallas Police Association threatened a boycott of Time Warner. Time Warner executives originally defended the band on freedom of speech grounds, but they were getting death threats on a regular basis. In his own words “I thought I was safe. I thought within the world of rock 'n' roll, you could be free to write what you want. Hell, I was listening to 
Talking Heads singin' 'Psycho Killer.' F*ck it, I'll make 'Cop Killer'! But, that was the cross of metal with something that was real. Now we’re not just killing your family, we’re killing somebody so real that everybody just went, 'oh sh*t.'" The president came out against it. The vice-president came out against it. Heck, even Moses himself, Charlton Heston, came out against the song. Eventually, Ice-T decided to drop the song from the album and release it for free, replacing it with a rockified version of his appropriately named song “Freedom of Speech”.

Despite all the controversy, the album was critically acclaimed. They would release two more albums in the coming years 1994’s Born Dead, and 1997’s Violent Demise: The Last Days. Unfortunately, at that point the band would be hit with all sorts of tragedy. Over the next eight years, three of the six original members would pass on. Right after finalizing Violent Demise, Beatmaster V would die of leukemia in 1996. Mooseman, who had left the band in 1998 would be killed in a in a drive by shooting in 2001, for which he was not the intended target. And the man who both Ice-T and Ernie C. would call the soul of the band, D Roc, died from lymphoma in 2004.  

Still, the band has perservered around Ice-T, Ernie C. and a reconfigured lineup, they have released three albums over the past decade 2006’s Murder for Hire, 2014’s Manslaughter, and Bloodlust, which was released in March of this year. But the controversy of “Copkiller” has never left the group. And that is the reason I think, despite their uniqueness and impact in helping shape the nu metal genre that they are likely to be on the outside looking in. That and the fact, that heavy metal has been massively underrepresented in the Hall. I mean Judas Priest has never even been nominated. Neither has Slayer. Or Motorhead. Or Iron Maiden. Or Megadeth. Or Anthrax. Or hell, even Motley Crue. There is a great case to be made for Body Count, there are just too many other bands in front of them. I believe that Ice-T will one day be in the Hall on his own, I just don’t think that the band will be coming with him.

In the meantime, here is an appropriate song from their self-titled debut album “There goes the Neighborhood”. Oh, and unsurprisingly there are some explicit lyrics in this song. So if you are easily offended, well Tipper Gore has some extra vapors for you.


  1. Insane Clown Posse

Shockingly, Body Count is not the most controversial of the three rap/hard rock acts in a row (although to be fair Body Count is a heavy metal band fronted by a rapper who sings). That honor belongs to an outfit out of the Detroit suburbs named the Insane Clown Posse. They are not so much the creators of a musical genre in horrorcore as they are the creators of a movement. What you think of that movement and its members, known as Juggalos, is a matter of personal preference. I will tell you what the government thinks of them, however. In 2011, the FBI classified Juggalos as a gang that needed monitoring, a classification that the band and Juggalos themselves have been fighting ever since.

The band itself was founded in 1989 when Violent J (Joseph Bruce), Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler), and his brother John Kickjazz (John Utsler) started listening to hip hop and wrestling together in the Utsler’s backyard in Oak Park, Michigan. After Violent J serving a stint in jail followed by an attempted professional wrestling career (where he became friends with WWE wrestlers Rob Van Dam and Sabu, who were also just starting out at that time), the group decided to record a gangsta rap album under the name the Inner City Posse. Trouble getting local radio stations to play the music, mainly because all the members were white, necessitated a change of tactics to horrorcore and a rebranding of ICP to mean Insane Clown Posse, a name derived from a Violent J dream. That lead to the face paint for which they are famous. And another of Violent J’s dreams led to the creation of the Dark Carnival mythology and Joker Card series.

They released their first album, Carnival of Carnage, in 1992. An album that was completed with a special guest appearance by up and coming rocker Kid Rock and without John Kickjazz who decided that the band was taking up too much of his time. While the album was not particularly well received, the now duo would continue alone and unequivocally become the single most successful horrorcore band of all time. The band would go on to record fourteen studio albums and would steadily build in popularity with each album. By the time their fourth album, The Great Milenko, came out in 1996 the band had made it as a musical force, albeit a very controversial one.

The album debuted at #63 on the Billboard Top 200. And was recalled within hours of its release, all promotion was stopped, a tour cancelled, and band was dropped from their label, the Disney owned Hollywood Records. Disney claimed that this was due to a mistake in approving the album by their board due to the misogyny of the band’s lyrics. The album was picked up by Island Records and would be certified platinum. As would the follow up album The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, a song from which “Halls of Illusions” is linked below. The band that was roundly rejected and still critically derided had become a force.

That said, it has not exactly been a smooth ride. Both Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have been in and out of jail throughout the years. Mostly for assault. There have been calls of misogyny and bigotry, nervous breakdowns, cancelled concerts, and even a feud with Eminem along the way. But they have a meeting of their fans every year that brings up to 20,000 of them together. And whether or not those fans are a gang, there are certainly a subset who have committed violent acts although the band has repeatedly decried these activities, they are a devoted bunch, perhaps unlike any other band who is eligible this year. And it is those fans that put them here at #27, because the band still to this day is not taken particularly seriously by the music community, but those fans will push and push for their inclusion. All they need is one ear to listen and they could get a nomination. I don’t think that is likely. But it is a possibility.


26. Juliana Hatfield

Indie darling, short time Lemonheads member, and all around good Boston girl Juliana Hatfield has been putting out consistently great music for 25 years now. Her most recent album (actually released under the name of the Juliana Hatfield Three as she got back together with bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Philips for the first time in 22 years), 2015’s Whatever, My Love is her 13th album. In 25 years. Pretty impressive to remain relevant musically for that long.

Hatfield, who by family legend is a direct descendent of the famous feuding family of the same last name, was actually born in Maine in 1967. She moved to Duxbury, MA as a child and graduated from Duxbury High before moving on to B.U. for a semester and then to the Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, she met up with Freda Boner and John Strom, with whom she split lead singing duties, to form the Blake Babies. The Babies were popular in the late 80s on the college circuit, but broke up in 1991. She then went on to join The Lemonheads on their breakout album It’s a Shame About Ray, providing backup vocals throughout.

By 1992 however, she had kicked off her solo career with her debut album Hey, Babe and by 1993 would recruit the aforementioned Fisher and Philips to create the Juliana Hatfield Three. It was their debut album, Become What You Are, that gave Hatfield the biggest hit of her career with “My Sister” which hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart (and is linked below). The hit made her not only an indie darling but a role model for young girls and brought a lot of attention that she was not prepared for.

The next couple of years brought fits and starts of activity interspersed with bouts of depression and anxiety. This led her to being released from her label and having to set off on her own. By 1997 she was largely back on her feet and was touring with the original Lilith Fair. She would remain consistently creating quality music, which would be more and more critically acclaimed, but never have a bigger hit than she had with the Juliana Hatfield Three.

Still when it comes to the Rock Hall, she is indie rock royalty and has the love and respect of many of the people in that room. That often makes up for a lack of major hits when it comes to being considered for the Hall. I personally believe that Hatfield has to wait behind Sarah McLaughlin, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, the Indigo Girls, and several others of her Lilith Fair peers before she will ever get considered. But given the right room she could at least get a nomination. And that and her overall excellence, leads her to a #26 placing on this list.  

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 September 2017 15:51
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0 #1 Darryl Tahirali 2017-09-12 23:35
I still have a cassette version of Body Count with "Cop Killer" on it, before Ice-T pulled it for subsequent releases.

I'm in the LA area, and, locally, then-LAPD police chief Daryl Gates was on the news decrying the song--no surprise as the song mentions him explicitly. Of course, that was in connection with the 1991 Rodney King beating by four of his LAPD officers, which a bystander had videotaped-- definitely one of those "things they [Body Count] saw in the streets."

Following a change of venue to Simi Valley, an exurb north of Los Angeles, the four officers were acquitted of most of the charges--tru ly a jury of their peers, as the predominantl y white Simi Valley is home to many LAPD families.

The acquittal sparked the 1992 LA riots. I can still remember that first day when the verdict was announced, listening to radio news reports and how the KFWB reporters kept referring to the "r-r-reactio n" to the verdict, unable initially to use the word "riot" although it was clearly that from the start.

Body Count had been r-r-released about a month before the riots. "Cop Killer" seemed very prophetic (although King wasn't actually killed).

Gates was castigated for his mismanagemen t during the riots and resigned two months afterward, as assessment underscored by the Webster Commission later that year, headed by former FBI and CIA Director William Webster. However, the Christopher Commission, headed by future Secretary of State Warren Christopher, convened in 1991 following King's beating, had already criticized Gates's LAPD for its excessive force and lack of accountabili ty for it and had called for Gates to resign even then.

Charlton Heston, police associations , and even President George the Elder Bush could condemn "Cop Killer" for being violent and provocative. Ice-T was just calling Daryl Gates's LAPD for what it was.

And, yes, ironic that Ice-T went on to play a cop on TV.

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