Groundbreaking Washington, D.C., hardcore band Bad Brains received its first nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hall announced Tuesday.
While the “rock and roll” designation of the Hall is frequently questioned by critics citing the influencers and various other genres allowed entry, this nomination calls to question the “fame.” Bad Brains never really had much, despite its popularity among hardcore fans.
So Green Day gets in the Hall (Class of 2015) before Bad Brains is even nominated.
But its original blend of hardcore punk and reggae influenced more famous musical artists from the Beastie Boys (Class of 2012) to Lauryn Hill to Living Colour to,of course, D.C. punk icon Ian MacKaye (Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens), who told WTOP the person who put Bad Brains on the lineup may be visionary.
“In 1979-80, not only did we have this great local band, we actually had the greatest band in the world playing in Washington,” MacKaye told WTOP.
Artists are eligible for the Hall 25 years after their first recordings, and Bad Brains got its start much longer ago. In the late 1970s, guitarist Gary “Dr. Know” Miller, singer H.R. (born Paul D. Hudson), bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson were influenced by punk after seeing live performances by Hall of Famers the Ramones (Class of 2002) and the Clash (Class of 2003) and by reggae after seeing the legendary Bob Marley (Class of 1994). Taking its name from the Ramones song "Bad Brain," Bad Brains played reggae-tinged punk faster and with a positive edge.
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The band released its first anthem, the anti-materialism blast “Pay to Cum,” in 1980. In 1982, Bad Brains released its self-titled debut LP, featuring another anthem, “Banned in D.C.” Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who would produce the band’s 2007 LP “Build a Nation,” called “Bad Brains” the best hardcore punk album ever.
“Rock for Light,” released in 1983 and produced by another Hall nominee, Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, was a more polished LP.
Through the ‘80s, Bad Brains developed a more heavy metal sound, noticeable on fourth LP “I Against I” in 1986, which divided the band, as H.R. and Hudson wanted to pursue reggae. They were out of the band by the end of the decade, replaced by Israel Joseph-I and Mackie Jayson.
In the alt-rock '90s, Bad Brains finally made it to the majors, but Epic dropped the band after one unsuccessful album, 1993's "Rise." Madonna's Maverick Records then signed the band under the condition the original lineup record together, which it did for 1995's "God of Love." But H.R. and Hudson left again soon after.
Bad Brains has continued to record over the years, most recently releasing “Into the Future” in 2012.
In August, the band played a festival in New York, its first performance since Dr. Know’s long hospitalization that found him temporarily on life support.
The public is invited to vote online among the 19 nominees, with their top five selections cast as a “fan's ballot.” More than 800 artists, historians and music-industry officials will vote, with results announced in December and induction next April.
Bad Brains is joined in the field by Tupac Shakur and Pearl Jam, both nominated in their first year of eligibility. The other first-time nominees are Journey, Depeche Mode, Electric Light Orchestra, Jane's Addiction, Joan Baez and Steppenwolf.
The repeat nominees are Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, J. Geils Band, Joe Tex, Kraftwerk, MC5, the Cars, the Zombies, Yes and Chic, back on the ballot for the 11th time.