The times they are a-changin’ in more ways than one at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with new chairman John Sykes coming in to helm the organization replacing Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.
Sykes gave an interview to Rolling Stone about his new role in the organization and he gave some very eye-opening answers regarding the direction of the Rock Hall and the entity as a whole.
Sykes hinted at the Rock Hall’s upcoming evolution saying, ” I think Jann, Ahmet [Ertegun], and [Sire Records founder] Seymour [Stein] built an incredible Hall of Fame that reflected the state of music in the time that the institution was built. And Jann himself has said that it’s time to evolve. His work has been to make 1.0, and it’s time to take the Hall to 2.0. That means a more diverse board, that means more women, people of color, people who reflect the kind of music that’s now being inducted. We have to look and feel like the artists that come into our Hall. That’s just the natural transition. To Jann’s credit, the first year of induction had Sam Cooke, Jeff Barry, Ray Charles — it could’ve just been a bunch of rock bands. Jann’s view is that he’s done his job and gotten it to this level, and it’s time for the next generation to take over and grow it. It was his idea to step down and pass the torch.”
Sykes also drove home the point by saying the Rock Hall, to him, has never been just about rock music.
“I’ve always thought that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — having been involved in it myself for 25 years now — is no longer about a single genre of music,” said Sykes. “It’s about a spirit that connects with young people. Jon Landau, who heads up our nominating committee, always reminds us each year at our induction meetings that Berry Gordy put on every single one of his Motown records the words “the sound of young America.” I think that’s what it’s all about: the sound of young America. It will continue to evolve. Because if it doesn’t, it will become irrelevant.”
In other words: When the this year’s nomination class of the Rock Hall is announced in the coming months, perhaps there might be some surprising artists eligible for induction.