(Warning: No real political content here -- I usually try to keep myself out of Plain Blog except for the baseball posts, but once in a while, I make an exception. Indeed, this is just updated and lightly edited from the last years' complaints. Rant follows:)
The new Kennedy Center Honors list is out. Now, granted, there's no reason anyone should care about the Kennedy Center Honors, but nevertheless...
This year's popular music honoree is Neil Diamond. Neil Diamond? I can't even start my rant properly this year, because instead of it being Paul McCartney (last year) or Bruce Springsteen (2009) it's Neil Goddawful Diamond. And yeah, I know about "I'm a Believer", but how do you put Neil Diamond before, say, Carol King??? I mean, that's not a particularly close call, is it? At least they finally got around to Sonny Rollins, although I have no idea how it takes 34 years to manage that.
At any rate, getting back to the rant proper and ignoring this year's disaster: you can't really argue with McCartney or Springsteen, both obviously deserving, as were Diana Ross in 2007, Smokey Robinson in 2006, and Tina Turner in 2005. That's fine; they've making their way through the 1960s and 1970s, and fair enough.
However. Here's the list of original rock'n'rollers who have received the Kennedy Center Honors:
That's it. Now, it can't be helped that Buddy Holly died long ago, and that Elvis Presley was gone just before the Honors opened for business in 1978 (and long before they noticed rock-era performers with Charles in 1986). Fine. But: notice anyone missing?
Where's Little Richard?
(For that matter, where's Fats Domino? Jerry Lee Lewis? If Perry Como rates...well, granted, if Perry Como rates, why not the Everly Brothers, Danny & the Juniors, and plenty of others, but still, Fats Domino and the Killer are pretty damn important).
I have no inside information here; I suppose it wouldn't shock me if they had offered it to Little Richard and he turned them down flat. But I've been following this for over a decade, and there's never been any reporting to that effect, and he showed up in 1993 and 2000, apparently, to take part in the festivities for others.
Little Richard is a more important figure in American culture than Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Elton John, or Tina Turner...I hardly even have to mention Neil Diamond, do I? Or, as much as I think he's great, Smokey Robinson. He wasn't greater than the other rock-era nominees (Bob Dylan, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and the Who), but he certainly preceded them. Paul McCartney? Without Little Richard, there's no "I'm Down", no "I Saw Her Standing There", no "Oh! Darling."
I mean, I'm not asking them to celebrate the careers of Bob Mould or KRS-One or Andy Partridge (at least, not yet). This is Little Richard. C'mon! What's the hold up?!?