Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kennedy Center Disgraces

(Warning: I have a blog and I'm gonna use it, but no real politics content here. 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 Bruce Springsteen. No doubt that Springsteen is deserving, as was Diana Ross in 2007, Smokey Robinson in 2006, and Tina Turner in 2005. That's fine; they've honored much of the 1960s, and so they're on the 1970s now.

However, here's the list of original rock'n'rollers who have received the Kennedy Center Honors:

Ray Charles
Chuck Berry

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 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, or Elton John, Tina Turner, 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.

I mean, I'm not asking them to celebrate the careers of Bob Mould or Andy Partridge (yet). This is Little Richard. C'mon! What's the hold up here?!?



  2. I agree with you that Little Richard is an American original and should, ofcourse, be celebrated. I do not understand your "bashing" of other artists in order to make this point. For example, the incredible Diana Ross was well past due for receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor. This honor, actually, is a very big deal--comparable to being "knighted" in England. How about less negativity and more advocacy? Donnie.

  3. perhaps, his name say's it all "little" that he's forgotten! the past honorees all deserve it.

  4. Amen! with a slight correction: Diana Ross is a "WORLD" Icon!

    Please check out Dick's Diana Ross Website at:

  5. What about Dionne Warwick? What about Patti Labelle? What about Debbie Allen? Bill Cosby? Gladys Knight? Stevie Wonder?

  6. You see man, the people you named, had a lot of controversy in their lives. However, the evening is still young...they could get nominated. So don't dispare, all things in due time. The two you mentioned Ray Charles, and Chuck Berry, redeemed themselves, and were/are looked upon as American Treasures....You have to be nominated by a previous honoree, and they must be approved. Hang in there...Honor is still young...32 years, I think..

  7. How's that for human nature? You write dozens of what I assume are good political posts (I only sample a few - you are just too prolific) and get multiple comments on popular music personalities.

    What's your theory:

    1. People read lots of posts, but only feel comfortable commenting with "I like this" opinions.

    2. This post somehow popped up on a popular search, maybe one of the names, and some percentage wanted to weigh in.

    3. Your readers like politics, but love pop stars.

    I'd choose #1, but maybe there's an answer I missed.

  8. Your opinion or mine doesn't necessarily equal truth as to which artist is more deserving of the Kennedy Center honor. In actuality, your and my opinions, while, in opposition to each other, amount to less than an eyeblink.


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