Chris Rock — Mystery Girl’s Dad Says She Was NOT Adopted … Mum on Money

1125-chris-rock-ntombi-splashThe biological father of the 7-year-old girl who lived with Chris Rock and his estranged wife for 7 years tells TMZ the Rock family never adopted the little girl, but he refuses to say if any money changed hands.

Crispen Khanyile says his ex-girlfriend gave birth to Ntombi on February 23, 2008 … this according to a private investigator’s report commissioned by an interested party in the case. According to the report, both Crispen and the mother, Precious Ndebele, were unemployed at the time, living on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

The couple had 2 other kids and it appears the situation was increasingly desperate. When the private investigator interviewed Precious last year, she said she was living in a slum and selling secondhand clothes on the streets. The investigator said the conditions were “not conducive for human living.”

Crispen would not discuss the arrangement with the adoptive parents, but simply said we should speak with Malaak, Chris’ estranged wife.

It’s interesting … the P.I. says Crispen told him last year Ntombi was living with adoptive parents in the U.S., but when we spoke with Crispen on Wednesday, it was clear … there was NO adoption.

As we reported, Ntombi has been living in the U.S. with the Rock family on a visitor visa, requiring her to return to South Africa once a year. Chris has not seen the girl since he split with Malaak and we’re told he believes she did something shady to get Ntombi into the U.S.

And one final twist … Malaak’s lawyer just broke his silence and said his client is actively trying to legally adopt Ntombi. He did not say when the process started or what has taken so long.

Brother Of Man Who Died At Bataclan: 'I Want Rock And Roll' For Him



The Rolling Stones perform in June 2014 during a concert at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. The brother of one of the victims of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris would like the band to return to the city for his brother's funeral.

The Rolling Stones perform in June 2014 during a concert at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. The brother of one of the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris would like the band to return to the city for his brother’s funeral. Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

Among the 129 people killed in the Paris terror attacks last Friday was a newlywed whose wife remains in critical condition; the cousin of a soccer player on the French national soccer team; and Cedric Mauduit, 41, a government manager in charge of modernizing the Calvados region of Normandy.

His young brother, Matthieu Mauduit, said that Cedric’s passion was for rock and roll, and that he had an extensive vinyl record collection stacked on 7-foot-long shelves at his home in the seaside community of Lion-sur-Mer.

The younger Mauduit, who is 37, said he and his lone sibling shared many things, although not an interest in Eagles of Death Metal, the rock band his older brother had gone with four friends to see at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

Matthieu Mauduit wants to The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to attend the funeral for his brother, Cedric, who was killed at Bataclan concert hall during the attacks in Paris.

Matthieu Mauduit wants to The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to attend the funeral for his brother, Cedric, who was killed at Bataclan concert hall during the attacks in Paris. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson/NPR

“We were born same day, same hospital, same bed — so we are very close, even if we didn’t see each other,” the younger Mauduit said. “I could say everything to him and he could say everything to me, and he was my idol.”

That his idol could be in the middle of the mayhem Mauduit watched unfold on television last Friday night never crossed his mind. He didn’t expect him to go to Paris, given Cedric’s oldest son, Antoine, was celebrating his seventh birthday the following day.

But the next morning, he had a phone call.

“Even before I knew what it was, I knew it was for my brother,” he said. “I was feeling it.”

It was their mother on the line. She told him Cedric was missing and wasn’t answering his phone.

“I said ‘OK, I’m going to Paris,’ ” Mauduit said. “I cried a lot, took a shower, coffee, took my car, picked up my brother’s wife and went to Paris. We did not know what we’d find.”

Authorities soon confirmed Cedric Mauduit was dead, as was another of the five friends who’d gone to see the concert.

“And since [then] I’m living a nightmare, permanent nightmare,” Matthieu Mauduit said, his eyes still red from crying.

He said he and other relatives managed to hold it together until Antoine’s birthday party was over and his friends had gone home.

Afterward, Mauduit says the adults gently told Antoine and his 3-year-old sister, Appoline, their father was gone.

But in the depth of despair, Mauduit said he had a brainstorm: To honor his brother with a personal tribute from his favorite performers, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.

“So I wrote a post on Facebook — to my friends first,” he said. “They told me ‘open it to everybody,’ so I did. Then someone told me, ‘go on Twitter,’ so I did.”

The efforts are bearing some fruit, on social media at least — including on Twitter, where #RollingStonesforCedric has a small following. Intermediaries have promised to talk to the stars.

“I just want to remember happy things — and happy is music, rock and roll,” Mauduit said. “I want rock and roll for my brother.”

He said that he knows it’s a long shot and that he has yet to hear from the performers, but his goal is to get The Stones and Bowie to attend his brother’s funeral. Mauduit added he’d welcome videotaped tributes, too.

Music News : NPR

You've Got A Home: June Millington's Lifelong Journey In Rock

June Millington, the author of the memoir Land of a Thousand Bridges: Island Girl in a Rock & Roll World, on the porch of the Fanny's House of Music in East Nashville. The shop is named after Millington's band, Fanny.

June Millington, the author of the memoir Land of a Thousand Bridges: Island Girl in a Rock & Roll World, on the porch of the Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville. The shop is named after Millington’s band, Fanny. Audrey Spillman for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Audrey Spillman for NPR

In East Nashville, right at the center of the neighborhood’s musically-driven hubbub, a Victorian-style corner building houses a popular gathering place. Fanny’s House of Music is homey, with a hand-painted sign out front and a porch for lounging. Inside, one alcove contains vintage clothing, local artists’ paintings and kitschy knickknacks, stuff a tourist or causal browser would buy. But most customers come to Fanny’s for the instruments — drum kits, dobros, keyboards and especially electric guitars. Some are there for lessons from the down-to-earth staff of gigging musicians. And a large percentage of Fanny’s regulars, like those staff members, are female. Many are just kids, learning to play in the light of the smiles cast by the famous women instrumentalists pictured all over the store’s walls.

Co-owner Pamela Cole chose to gather only women’s portraits as a counterpoint to conventional music stores, where cocks of the walk strut with their customized manhood extensions on larger than life endorsement ads, enforcing the marginalization female shoppers have long felt in these “experts'” enclaves. Some of the photographs on the wall at Fanny’s are historical, including gospel pioneer Rosetta Tharpe and soul great Barbara Lynn, some contemporary: Taylor Swift, a vocal Fanny’s supporter, is there, holding her signature acoustic. One group in the frames stands out, however, not only because its members vibrate with life, but because, for many Fanny’s visitors, they’re oddly difficult to place, even though they gave the store its name.

June Millington in front of a photo of her band Fanny at Fanny's House of Music in East Nashville.

June Millington in front of a photo of her band Fanny at Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville. Audrey Spillman for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Audrey Spillman for NPR

This is Fanny, the classic rock ensemble that, for a moment in the early 1970s, was virtually unique as an all-woman, pop-friendly hard rock band. Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples named their shop after the group upon opening in 2009 because they loved its sound, and conveniently, the moniker also had a Southern twang. But Fanny was Californian through and through — in the photos guitarist June Millington sent Cole from her private collection, she and bass-playing sister Jean, keyboardist Nicki Barclay and drummer Alice de Buhr shine with West Coast openness and optimism, their long hippie hair reaching past the scooped necks of their t-shirts, their wide-legged jeans chosen because in them they could stand on a festival stage for an hour-long jam and feel completely comfortable. Fanny’s members are beautiful, but they look like musicians, not models; they’re just pausing to look badass for the camera because the record label demands it.

“We knew how to play, we knew how to please an audience, we knew how to get people to dance, we knew how to set up a PA. I knew how to back up a trailer full of equipment,” June Millington said during a recent interview in a coffee shop not far from Fanny’s, where she’d come for a reading and performance celebrating her self-published memoir, Land of a Thousand Bridges: Island Girl in a Rock & Roll World. “You have those skills — they’re very practical, they’re aside from the music — and so we were confident when we got down. We were like, ‘Yeah, catch up with us.’

The sound of Fanny is one that easily fits into the ever more eclectic 21st-century rock world. The band’s glam hippie vibe, a little bit fantastic but not fussy, has something in common with popular touring acts like Lake Street Dive or Banditos. Its blend of pop and hard rock isn’t too far from Haim‘s, and its multicultural make-up — June and her sister Jean are half-Filipina — recalls La Luz. Like the Scissor Sisters or the gently psychedelic California garage scene that spawned Ty Segall, Fanny played hard-hitting rock that had room for plenty of pop harmonies and theatrical flourishes. The band was funky in the way a lot of California bands were at the turn of the 1970s — loose, experimental, but with the intention of making fans dance. And there’s room in their songs: room for every player to stand out, for voices to merge and then go their own way, for a June Millington guitar solo to reach a thrilling high point. The band’s first four studio albums, especially, the ones recorded before June and Alice left the band, capture the excitement of women testing and supporting each other in a space no one had really even imagined before.


“I’m now old enough where I have become the subject of college dissertations,” the 67-year-old Millington said. And her life has been documented by scholars and a few journalists, most recently in Pitchfork and the BBC documentary Girl In a Band. Yet the incredible richness of Millington’s life remains largely unheralded, a fact that Millington hopes will be remedied by the new, enormous memoir detailing the life choices leading up to and encompassing Fanny’s rise.

Why is June Millington still mostly unknown, especially now, when the Web is alight with interest in feminist rock and intersectional politics? Here is a virtuoso guitarist who’s written myriad songs celebrating women’s power; a biracial woman born in the Phillippines who helped pioneer West Coast garage rock and then went on to connect with glam and heavy metal and record at The Beatles‘ Abbey Road; to play on the best-selling women’s music album of all time, The Changer and the Changed and to found a rock and roll camp for girls when the idea of doing so barely existed. Millington has everything it takes to be a mythologized rock hero. There are signs that the recognition due her may finally come, yet she still struggles to be recognized.

Was Fanny defiant, I asked the now 67-year-old Millington? Did she feel like a Riot Grrrrl-style punk feminist before her time? She laughed. “We were good, and we got better and better,” she said. “So essentially [our message was] f*** you. But f*** you with a smile on our face because we want you to buy our records!”

People can buy some of Fanny’s records now. A limited-edition Rhino Handmade boxed set of Fanny’s Reprise recordings was issued in 2002, and more recently, the small California label Real Gone Records rereleased the band’s first three albums with liner notes by the Millingtons and De Buhr. (Barclay long ago divorced herself from the band’s legacy.) But the band’s songs, which tend more toward jams and funk breakdowns than anthems, aren’t often covered by younger artists or found on women-in-rock playlists. The story of Fanny as it’s usually relayed now is of a group unjustly disregarded, mostly because of sexism. That message is conveyed so often that it sometimes seem Fanny existed just to be forgotten.

Why hasn’t Fanny’s music been truly resurrected? The reasons are complex. They reflect lingering generational divides, attitudes about different strains of feminism, and prejudices about what rebellious music should sound like. A few years after Fanny’s moment, The Runaways would turn girls’ rage into something saleable, and Joan Jett would leave that band to craft surly anthems like “Bad Reputation” and “I Love Rock and Roll.” Then punk would further topple norms. The radical aspects of Fanny’s idea of making it the mainstream, and its sweet-and-salty sound, would get lost in the new noise.

This is a shame, because the whole point of Fanny was for women who played music for each other first — not as a novelty or a fashion statement — to be heard and seen by a major, mainstream audience. Asked whether she felt threatened as a young woman in a nearly all-male rock milieu, Millington said that her worries had more to do with not being recognized. “I felt much more at risk being invisible because that’s exactly the category we fell into,” she continued. “Because we were biracial and bi-cultural. I wanted to make friends and be visible …. There was not a picture of girls [in bands] in people’s minds whatsoever. We created our own frame and then we stepped into that frame and created our own picture and that’s what I was really interested in. I wanted to be visible.”

The visible invisible: Fanny and Millington have too often been relegated to that strange space. Held up as an example of how sexism excludes women in rock from the mainstream, Fanny suffers the strange consequence of still not being heard that much today. Today, no Fanny shows up on streaming services, and even YouTube videos are of middling technical quality. It’s also due to the group’s funky, popwise, ever-evolving sound, more in league with other turn-of-the-1970s bands like The Doobie Brothers, Little Feat and The James Gang — “we played before The James Gang in Denver,” Millington recalled, “and their heads where hanging when they came on stage, they didn’t want to play, because at that time apparently we were better than they were” — than with more clearly anti-authoritarian acts like Joan Jett or, later, Bikini Kill. Fanny’s music is fun and irresistibly danceable, but like Millington’s playing technique, it takes time to really grasp. Instead of easy slogans, it offers long jams, tricky interpolations, and a ton of interplay among women attempting to work as equals.

Fanny’s categorical elusiveness — built into the band via its virtuosity, by the non-binary Asian identities of the Millington sisters (“people didn’t know where the Philippines was, and they didn’t have a context for a Filipina,” Millington said), and a sound that was simultaneously aggressive, funky, defiant and sweet — worked against the group in its time and continues to render its music difficult to simplistically invoke. Millington remembers feeling that she and her bandmates were just too competent for their peers, and many rock fans, too accept.

“I think that what really unified us was that we were all individually and as a group so determined to not only prove that we were good, but that we were as good as anybody,” she said. “We were just sick and tired of the way people talked about us and viewed us, and the sneering that we could see, and that we would always have to change people’s minds just to get to level two, never mind the penthouse of opinion. Just level two was excruciating for us and we were pissed. In a word, we were pissed.”


Millington’s insistence on continuing to learn defined Fanny’s eclecticism. The core group created song structures with room for much open exchange, reminiscent of, though not identical to, that of The Band. Some of their songs, like Barclay’s takedown of male rockers, “Borrowed Time,” are openly subversive; others, like Millington’s tender ode to single motherhood, “You’ve Got a Home,” are quite gentle, though revolutionary in their own way. The albums Fanny, Charity Ball and Fanny Hill, produced by adult-pop kingpin Richard Perry, are boisterous and welcoming; Mother’s Finest, helmed by Todd Rundgren, is weirder and more glam. Millington left Fanny, replaced by leather-suited star Suzi Quatro’s sister Patti, before the band enjoyed its biggest Top 40 hit with the David Bowie-inspired “Butter Boy.” In that phase the group was at its most theatrical, nodding toward both Bette Midler and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Veteran music critic Jim Farber became a Fanny fan as a kid. He loved the band’s unusual sonic blend. “They had a rare sound, mixing crunching rock with a lot of harmonies, and a fillip of funk. Yet they still sounded clean,” he wrote in an email. He speculates that other listeners couldn’t get past the first, obvious question. “You can’t underestimate the degree of sexism that greeted them,” he noted. “There was no history of all-female rock bands. So even though the women clearly had chops, and didn’t draw play as objects in any way, it was hard for many rock fans of the day to hear the music through their suspicions about whether chicks were cool.”

The lack of context for what Fanny tried was nearly total. June and Jean began their careers in high school, learning songs by playing them on the small turntable in June’s bedroom. They always and only played with other women. As the Svelts and, briefly, Wild Honey, the band that would become Fanny did the high school gym circuit up and down the California coast while based in the sisters’ hometown of Sacramento. There were a few other all-female bands, with names like The Freudian Slips and the Women, who, unlike the era’s omnipresent girl groups, played instruments onstage. Though some of their fellow journeywomen actually ended up in one or two of Fanny’s incarnations, Millington never even saw the bands play live. “The only reason we heard about them was because we met the girls who joined Wild Honey, that became Fanny. I only saw [the slightly later vintage all-female band] Birtha in L.A. once we moved down there.” Birtha, whose sound was somewhat harder-edged, is even more forgotten than Fanny.

In this relative isolation, Fanny’s members had each other, but offstage, their interplay did not fulfill a harmonious feminist ideal. For one thing, the group came into being before the women’s movement fully emerged as a corrective to the male-dominated counterculture. For another, these women simply tussled a lot.

“We fought,” Millington recalled, noting that her gentler sister hid from these conflicts by focusing on — no joke — knitting. “I mean until the second we got on stage, seriously. So really where we were cohesive was in our unity of knowing that we were important and how hard it was for us and how hard we worked. And we did it, in part, for the generations to come. Although they didn’t really seem to appreciate it so much.”


Millington left Fanny in 1974, exhausted by inter-band conflict and the group’s lack of commercial success. During the course of her time with the group, she’d confronted sexism and racism directly, sometime being mistaken for a Mexican maid and dealing with an offer from Playboy for a nude Fanny centerfold — but only if the band showed its pubic hair. (Jean’s response ran in Creem magazine, which labeled it a “wimpout”: “We’ll pose nude when Hugh Hefner poses for the centerfold with a hard-on. Let them show Mick Jagger’s cock first or somebody cute.”) The fights with bandmates, especially the equally willful and musically gifted Barclay, wore her out. She’d had an abortion. Her first serious love affair with a woman, the singer Tret Fure, occupied her and imploded. She did a lot of experimenting.

“People assume it was drugs,” she says of her departure from the band. “It was sorrow. I was sorrowful. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.” Though Millington learned a lot from the guys with whom she regularly jammed, including Jeff “Skunk” Baxter from the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan soloist Elliott Randall, and Flying Burrito Brothers pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow, the dearth of other women in her position, beyond her own band, left her isolated even in the midst of the rock scene. “You know, there was no place — no one around me who was going to give me any information, any of the real information that I needed. The mirroring was one-dimensional. The questions I got — ‘How does it feel like to be a girl guitar player?’ Well, that’s not going to take me to before the mountain, after the mountain.”

Turning away from the quest for stardom, Millington immersed herself in spiritual pursuits. She also made playing among other women, for women, a priority. A new musical community was emerging within lesbian feminist circles, oriented around highly confessional, lush acoustic music by artists like Holly Near and Cris Williamson. The driving forces within women’s music enlisted Millington as a key player.

Women’s music is truly invisible within most histories of popular song, partly because it existed within a lesbian community with separatist leanings, and partly due to its folk- and world music-flavored sound, which seemed overly soft to the younger women who would forge a new link between feminism and rock in the 1990s Riot Grrrl years. Yet for Millington, the scene offered revelations.

“I saw bravery in action that was in itself invisible,” she said. “Like — a woman whose house I was staying at, who had decided to go to college and her husband said, I want a divorce or she has to get a divorce in order to go to school. Or a woman who realizes she’s a lesbian and now they’re going to court and he’s probably going to win because she’s a lesbian. I mean, I just saw so many quiet acts of heroism that had to do with women salvaging their own lives, and I could not believe it.” These experiences made Millington rethink Fanny. “That was what we had been doing. But we didn’t know anybody else was doing it, because all of the girls that we saw were always — or let’s say 99 percent — were with a boyfriend, and so they couldn’t talk to us, they couldn’t say anything. They would be looking at us admiringly, but they couldn’t say anything to us with the boys around.”


Finding inner strength within women’s music, Millington also found herself exiled from the rock legacies she’d helped form. “June stopped being legible because she was not within the patriarchal system,” said Sarah Dougher, a musician and author whose bands Cadallaca and the Crabs, and solo albums, played a key role in ’90s feminist rock. “She was legible in Fanny, but then the women’s music movement is almost completely illegible because of the problems it faced in actual reproduction. The Women’s Music bin in record stores doesn’t exist anymore, and it doesn’t have any purchase in digital culture. It might be something people discover in five or ten years.”

Dougher’s observation that women’s music is literally inaccessible in the digital age — as is much of Fanny’s music outside of disorganized formats like YouTube — reminds us today, that history is in the hands of the electronically connected. Millington herself has worked to preserve her own work, but it’s often only included as a footnote in playlists and other digital compendia. The generation of women rockers who followed her actively forged links with third wave feminist musicians, and their punk-rooted music was also closer aesthetically to what those younger rockers favored. Punk-inspired feminists tend to dutifully pay homage to Fanny in their writing or archival collections, but they gravitate toward a different sensibility, one that’s rawer and more openly confrontational.

Millington noticed women like Jett and Deborah Harry, a decade younger than herself, whose 1970s output is now at the root of most feminist-rock canons. But she didn’t hear anything new. “I really didn’t pay that much attention to it because we really did start off with that garage band sound,” she said. “It was exactly the same sound, but actually not even as well played.” Her guitarist ears, she admits, may have lessened her absorption of such women’s messages. “If I could’ve understood the words, I probably would’ve appreciated it more.”

Women’s music gave Millington a spiritual home, yet she found its self-imposed musical limitations frustrating. “I’d have people tell me to turn [the volume] down,” she recalled. “Women who were maybe 10 years older than would me be very upset, they’d come to my show and tell me I was too loud. I’m like, too loud? What are you talking about? First of all, you have no idea who I am, really — which in a way was a vacation. I’d enjoyed that people didn’t know, but the not so great part for me was people upset that I was turned up at all.”


She kept trying new things. Under the name Millington, she made a disco-inflected album with Jean called Ladies on the Stage. In the 1980s she played with soft-rock and global music sounds on several solo albums. By 1987, however, she was focusing on a new venture: the Institute for Musical Arts, a women’s retreat, studio, school and, eventually, summer camp, which she’d founded with her partner, activist Ann F. Hackler. It was first located in Bodega, California, in Sonoma County, and later found a permanent home near rural Goshen, Massachusetts. Millington and Hackler moved the IMA to Massachusetts in 2001, the same year the first punk-inspired Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls was established as a day camp in Portland.

Millington’s approach to playing is summed up in a proverb: Don’t play through your mistakes. Start again, because if you’ don’t, “essentially you’re practicing your mistakes.” She teaches this fundamental now at the IMA camps. “You have to integrate your right hand, your left hand, and you have to work slowly and get up to the place where now you can forget that you’re playing. That’s the goal. First you start, and it’s agonizing and you’re thinking about everything and you’re actually criticizing yourself and what not, but then you forget, and that’s the part that’s the goal. That’s the bonus.

IMA also hosts workshops and residencies for adult women musicians, following the women’s music model of developing a safe space in which to nurture female creativity. When the center began serving youth, its concept was an overnight camp stressing the importance of practice and technical skills. The IMA camps share much of the spirit of the better-known Rock Camps — “Girls in packs is a really good thing, that’s why I encourage girls to form bands,” Millington said — but it favors the spiritual and the introspective in more pronounced ways. The size of the IMA camps also contrasts to the yards full of girls singing Veruca Salt’s “Seether” that characterize better-known, punk- and hip hop-focused rock camps.

“Eleven is the magic number, eleven or twelve,” Millington said, describing each session of IMA’s five annual camps. “We only make it fourteen because otherwise we’d lose money. The numbers don’t look good, and that’s partly why we don’t get grants as much as we should, you know? But in order to affect inner change and to deal with the traumas and the issues that are coming up at that age, we have to have a small group.”

As with other rock camps, IMA has educated a handful of girls who’ve grown up to become nationally touring musicians. Singer-songwriter Sonia Kitchell and Naia Kele, recently a contestant on The Voice, both attended IMA camps. Longtime rock innovator Toshi Reagon considers Millington “one of my three moms” along with her biological mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Nona Hendryx, and has frequently participated in IMA programming Ani DiFranco, and Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price are also active supporters.

Carla Black, founder of ROCKRGRL, the first American magazine to devoted to women musicians, was a beneficiary of IMA’s support when she decided to fold the publication in 2005. “June invited me to come out to IMA to put together a think tank for me to help figure out what my next project should be. Women like Rita Houston of WFUV, Susan Tanner from Righteous Babe Records, Leah Kunkel, artist manager Emily Lichter. It was the dream team. People and artists on this level have always been June’s inner circle. I came up with the name MEOW (Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women) that weekend.” Black went on to produce four conferences under the MEOW moniker.

The IMA summer camps are like those think tanks, with a focus on girls. The combination Millington offers is unique. “It’s overnight, it’s very small, and guess what — it focuses on musicianship,” said Dougher. “Immediately, it’s a whole different thing. The idea that women need to work their asses off in safe spaces — places where they won’t be put down — that they need these places to develop, that’s the heart of what June is doing.”

That space — safe, but continually challenging — is what Millington craved in Fanny. For a time, the bandmates lived together in a Hollywood Hills house they dubbed Fanny Hill — a place that, Millington writes in her memoir, “was a stone’s throw away from the action — being there was like living in the Wild West, only with a swimming pool.” There, Millington was among women, spending day and night working at becoming a better musician. Yet Fanny Hill was no paradise. The external pressures exerted upon Fanny by the music industry, and the inter-band tensions that eventually led to its demise, were not ones Millington could overcome on her own. To get to the next place, she’d need a movement: the women’s movement. Giving her heart, soul and chops to it allowed her to thrive. But it also pushed her beyond the borders of official rock history.

“It is horrendous and criminal the way people don’t want to give women their props in music. It is tedious,” Toshi Reagon wrote in an email. “June and Jean never were expected. They … insisted that they exist. I think that is what June has done her whole life. The thing June, Nona and my Mom have in common is when the light came on for them they never turned it out. Each of them values the voices of the young- each of them is interested in what is new while not letting go of what is important about what they hold. They are some of the hardest working people I know and they are super generous. It makes them feel good to see and discover what is possible.”

June Millington at Fanny's House of Music in East Nashville.

June Millington at Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville. Audrey Spillman for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Audrey Spillman for NPR

Though she’s always kept going — Black calls her an “Energizer bunny” — it took Millington herself a while to get to the point where she could clearly articulate her and Fanny’s place in history. “June never told me about Fanny,” Reagon wrote. “I was surprised and I was like — That’s f****** you and you need to talk about this.”

With Land of a Thousand Bridges, Millington is hurling a 500-plus page brick at her own wall of silence, and at the conventional narrative that would render her a footnote. Despite its length, it’s a joy to read, chock full of stories about her many famous friends and informal collaborators and, more importantly, her self-education as a musician and an independent woman in an often hostile environment. Though she’s always making music, and released a 2011 album with Jean, Play Like a Girl, that sounds not unlike the ragged union of classic Fanny and a particularly jangly Riot Grrrl band, Millington spent many decades keeping Fanny’s music in a bottom drawer. The visible invisibility of Fanny has been a frustration for her for decades, but only now, with this memoir, is she herself putting the group’s importance front and center.

She still feels sadness about her contentious relationship with Barclay, who has been out of touch with her band members since the 1970s. But she and Jean worked with De Buhr on the Fanny reissues, and that process, among other things, led her to write.

“It was as if I were in a movie before, like an action movie, where they make everything dark. And now all of a sudden everything started to light up, and then at some point even the basement was filled with light, and then I started to find more rooms that were filled with light. So now I’m totally on the other side,” she said. “Fanny Hill is filled with light for me.”

There was a feeling of completion when, in Nashville, Millington entered Fanny’s House of Music — the house that she built. There were the photographs that pique visitors’ interest, now visibly connected to a living, guitar-playing woman. “June sent me those pictures when we first opened up,” Cole recalled. “So for her to actually come here … When she got out of the car Leigh met her at the steps, and she looked up and we looked down at her. It really was surreal, I think for both of us.”

For Millington, it’s a moment of fulfillment, but also of letting go. “I did the work of growing up,” she said. “I’m a lot less, kind of, jealous, and I am so willing and accepting to see the [successes] that are coming up. I’m also willing to fight for the idea that we need feminism. Like when girls come in, especially college girls, these girls that’ll come in to be interns or to work with us, and they say, oh, feminism, I don’t really think that way — I go ballistic because not only do I know how important it was back then, I know how important it is now. And I feel like I’m one of those people ringing the bell going, hey, it’s happening again. Wake up, wake up! We need to do this together. That’s the best of my life, right there.”


Music News : NPR

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2016: The Only System We’ve Got

The British rock group Deep Purple in 1969. Eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1993, the group behind "Smoke On The Water" has been nominated for the third time.

The British rock group Deep Purple in 1969. Eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1993, the group behind “Smoke On The Water” has been nominated for the third time. John Minihan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption John Minihan/Getty Images

Every October, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces the nominees for next year’s inductions, there’s a phrase that seems to come up organically in discussions of the shortlist. Indeed, I’ve used it several times myself. The phrase is “out of committee.” It’s an acknowledgment of the central role played by the Rock Hall’s semi-secret Nominating Committee in the selection process. Before the Hall’s hundreds of voters, or its millions of fans, can vote on their favorites — this year’s shortlist ranges from first-timers Chicago and Janet Jackson to perennials Deep Purple and Chic — an elite committee of a few dozen critics, musicians and Hall insiders determines who is worthy of the vote in the first place.

Of course, you know what other byzantine institution uses the phrase “out of committee” as part of its sausage-making rules? The U.S. Congress.

To anyone who has followed the maneuverings of either the Rock Hall or the Federal government, the analogy feels apt. Both systems began with the best of intentions, conceived by founding fathers who felt they knew best. Each system is prone to lobbying and driven by insider maneuvering and partisan bickering. The voting body’s leaders have to contend with a restive, often reflexively conservative base of representatives and citizens. (Jon Landau, meet John Boehner.) The results each system produces are often frustrating, haphazard and maddeningly incomplete — living proof that supposedly democratic systems don’t work right. And, as Winston Churchill never really said, both our democracy and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the worst systems … except for all the others. We obsessively follow these imperfect institutions because, all our protestations to the contrary, we care.

This year in particular, “out of committee” takes on an added relevance. The Rock Hall Nominating Committee always receives outsized attention for its inscrutability and biases — much as the Speaker of the House can prevent a bill from being voted on if he refuses to bring it to the floor, the Nominating Committee drives many rock fans crazy with its unwillingness to present certain acts to the voters. But this year especially, the spotlight is on the Committee’s inner workings. The Hall made headlines over the summer by paring the Committee’s rolls, reportedly by about one-third, dropping perhaps a dozen members including several veterans versed in early rock and blues. To the conspiracy-minded, the move was devised to appease ceremony-televiser HBO, which wants ratings and hence, younger and more populist inductees. To the rest of us perpetual Hall-watchers, it was probably inevitable — as Rob Tannenbaum’s exhaustively researched Billboard investigation into the Hall process earlier this year put it, it is an acknowledgment that “[i]f the electorate doesn’t continue to change, the Hall could turn into a high-tech Madame Tussauds.”

We now have evidence of the new, leaner Nominating Committee, and it is not quite as pathbreaking as many might have feared, or hoped. The nominees for the Class of 2016 aren’t the parade of ’80s–’90s electro-pop whippersnappers some Hall-watchers preemptively moaned about. In fact, nearly half of the list will look familiar to anyone who’s seen past years’ nominee rolls. But make no mistake, the 2016 ballot is a deliberate challenge to the Hall’s staunchest traditionalists. The Committee appears hell-bent on clearing the bench and inducting some long-overdues — many of them long, long overdue.

For the first time in five years, there are no first-year-eligible acts on the shortlist. The rules state that acts may be considered for the Hall 25 years after release of a first recording, which means artists who debuted in 1990 are now eligible. In the past few years, consensus rockers like Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana and Green Day have been nominated in their first year of eligibility and voted into the Hall right away. (As were Madonna and Public Enemy.) That won’t happen this year — the Committee decided to ignore all the new 1990 eligibles, from Alice in Chains to the Black Crowes to Primus. Sorry, Kid Rock fans — you’ll have to wait another year.

There are eight first-time nominees on this year’s list, all but one of whom have been eligible for more than a decade. The young’un in the bunch, Ms. Jackson, has been eligible just shy of a decade. These newly on-offer artists are joined by a roughly equal number of nominees that have been offered to voters in years past — seven in all, including the aforementioned Chic and Deep Purple. All in, these 15 acts have been eligible a remarkably high average of 15 years apiece — in other words, they released their first recordings an average of 40 years ago. So the subtext underlying this year’s shortlist is all about the Nominating Committee trying to get the voters to push through acts that should have been in long before Barack Obama was president.

Which means the sub-subtext is the Committee’s sometimes awkward relationship with the Hall’s core, conformist constituencies: the roughly 800 ballot-holding voters — performers, sidemen, industry luminaries — who are a proxy for the Hall’s rock-centric, dude-heavy audience. When the Nominating Committee repeats acts they’ve offered on the ballot in prior years, they are sending a hint to intransigent voters: No, seriously, we mean it — induct these people already. (Note: When I talk about “voters,” I am talking about the famous people with ballots, not the general public. Since 2012, the Hall has conducted a highly publicized — and mostly meaningless — online “fan vote,” the results of which are aggregated into one measly ballot.)

I offer all of the above context as a preamble to the fun part: speculating on who made it out of committee, why, and how likely they are to get past the voters. This is my perennial advice to Hall-watchers — stop paying attention to the fan vote (remember: millions of votes, one ballot), focus on the 800 famous voters, and think about why these acts are on the shortlist in the first place. Let’s start with the seven acts making repeat ballot appearances, then consider the eight debutantes — also a greying bunch, but with some very interesting inclusions this year.

Repeat nominees

Eligible since 2002; 10th nomination

No perennial Hall bridesmaid stands as greater evidence of the voters’ inability to take a Nominating Committee hint — or get past their antipathy to dance music — than Chic. (In my House of Representatives analogy, getting Chic past the Hall voters is like getting a gun-control bill past the Freedom Caucus.) This is the pioneering disco-era band’s record 10th nomination. Nile Rodgers had better hope the Hall has a secret Sandwich Shop Loyalty Card for frequent patrons — if nominations were sandwiches, it’d be time to give his group a free sub. Two years ago, when they were on their eighth nod, I noted that Chic held the record for Hall frustration among currently uninducted acts. With this latest push by the admirably persistent Nominators, the creators of “Le Freak” and “Good Times” are now tied for the all-time record. Only soul legend Solomon Burke had to wait this long for induction — for Burke, the 10th nod (back in 2001) was the charm. Perhaps it will be the same for Rodgers, Norma Jean Wright, Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin and the late Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson. Perhaps Rodgers’s recent announcement of a new Chic album, built around original-era demos, will convince some holdout Hall voters. But Chic were also nominated the year Rodgers performed on the culture-dominating, Chic-referencing “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, and that did nothing to boost their chances. Given the voters’ historic anti-disco bias, it’s hard to see what would finally put Chic over the top. That is, unless the sub-shop card is real, and the Hall has a quiet Solomon Burke policy that 10 nominations equals automatic induction. (Kidding. Kinda.)

Deep Purple
Eligible since 1993; third nomination

Throughout the ’90s and ’00s, hard-rock fans held up British early-metal pioneers Deep Purple as an example of the Rock Hall’s inability to give hard music its due. But the late-’00s development of a metal-and-progressive-rock subcommittee (thought I was kidding with that Congressional metaphor?) has helped turned the Ian Gillan–fronted band from an afterthought to a cause célèbre — Deep Purple have now been offered to the voters three times since 2013. The voters, however, have a habit of looking past any hard rock act on the ballot that’s even slightly less famous than Van Halen or Guns n’ Roses. For example, no less than Black Sabbath had to be put before the voters eight times before they were finally inducted. This year, a smaller selection of straight-up rock on the ballot might favor the band that introduced much of the world to guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore, the driving groove of “Hush” and the deathless crunch of “Smoke on the Water.” So perhaps this is finally the year we’ll hear that beginner-friendly four-note riff on induction night.

Nine Inch Nails
Eligible since 2014; second nomination

Trent Reznor has become such a respectable member of the arts community that it’s easy to forget just how radical his industrial-rock project Nine Inch Nails sounded in 1989. And still sounds, to your average Hall voter, even all these years and rock-radio hits later — from “Sin” to “Hurt” to “Only.” Last year, NIN was one of two acts on the ballot receiving nods in their very first year of eligibility and looked like shoo-ins. But the voters pulled the lever only for Green Day, the dad-and-teen-friendly punk band. With no fresher blood on the ballot this year, Reznor has the field of ’90s rock lovers to himself. Mind you, there aren’t very many people under 40 with Rock Hall ballots — but since every voter gets to choose five bands, there don’t need to be that many younger voters if NIN receives ballot slots from the bulk of them.

Eligible since 2012; fourth nomination

After Chic, these West Coast gangsta-rap progenitors have this year’s second-highest number of unfulfilled nods — the Nominating Committee has put them before the voters each of the last four years. They also have been nominated more than any rap act; Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy all got in with one to three nods apiece. With their radio-unfriendly lyrics and spotty discography, N.W.A‘s prospect for Hall induction is never a totally safe bet. But if ever there were a year for Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and the late Eazy-E’s widow to take the induction ceremony stage, this is absolutely it, thanks to the smash success of Straight Outta Compton, the movie (which even got a new generation to pick up Straight Outta Compton, the album and song). Most musicians receiving Hollywood biopic treatment are already perceived as Hall-worthy; Ray Charles and Johnny Cash were ensconced in Cleveland years before Ray and Walk the Line, respectively. What made Compton exceptional is it not only wildly exceeded typical music biopic box-office returns, it established a heroic, perhaps hagiographic rebel-pioneer image for N.W.A that likely sits well with rock classicists. The Hall voters have a mixed record with hip-hop — they have avoided LL Cool J three times despite strong Nominating Committee support — but the stars will probably never align better for a rap act making the Hall than for N.W.A this year.

The Smiths
Eligible since 2008; second nomination

The Rock Hall prefers it when inducted acts show up and, better yet, reunite for a performance at the annual ceremony. But it’s secretly good for publicity when there’s a frisson of will-they-or-won’t-they controversy — over the last decade everyone from the Sex Pistols and Guns n’ Roses to Genesis and Linda Ronstadt have made then-again-maybe-we-won’t headlines. Morrissey, lead singer of ’80s U.K. indie-rock legends The Smiths and eternal Pope of Mope, may not have much in common with Axl Rose (well … each man has been known to make love to a mic stand), but he is the Hall’s current Axl inasmuch as he prompts fevered blogosphere speculation each time his band winds up on the Hall shortlist. No one knows what, exactly, would happen if the long-feuding gang of Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce were finally inducted — Moz has sworn he’ll never be within spitting distance of the latter two, and his relationship with guitar god Marr could best be described as benign détente. Frankly, this hullabaloo offers the Smiths their best chance to get the voters’ attention. The band has zero American hits and few U.S. radio staples, and in a world where the Cure‘s and the Replacements‘ prior nominations went unfulfilled, it’s hard to guess when or if the Smiths will pass through. Like N.W.A, these ’80s veterans might need their own cinematic boost.

The Spinners
Eligible since 1986; third nomination

One of a handful of R&B groups as remarkable for its longevity as its discography, the Detroit-based Spinners are true survivors. They sit alongside the Isley Brothers and the Temptations among troupes that date to rock’s beginnings and still contain original members — the still-active Henry Fambrough was singing at the group’s 1954 inception. They have therefore been eligible for the Rock Hall since its 1986 launch, but unlike the more-heralded Isleys or Temptations — each inducted at their first Hall nomination — the Spinners only began being put forward by the Nominators in the 2010s. With their commercial peak in the ’70s era of Philly soul (“Games People Play,” “The Rubberband Man,” the chart-topping “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick), the feel-good Spinners appeal to a specific kind of vintage-R&B-loving voter, and like Chic, their leisure-suit-era associations make them a tough sell. Interestingly, however, they only began to be fully appreciated by the Hall as the Committee got younger — and they may actually become more appealing to older voters as the ballot starts to feature more post-1990 bands.

Eligible since 1994; second nomination

I will confess to calling this wrong. In 2013, when progressive-rock stalwarts Yes received their first nomination after two decades of eligibility, I was convinced they were like Rush — a critic-unfashionable band, finally out of committee, whose ticket would be immediately punched by centrist Hall voters. If it had been up to the public, they would have made it; in that year’s final fan ballot, Yes was among the top four vote-getters. But the 800 famous voters parted ways with the millions of lay voters, and Yes missed out on induction, reminding us that prog-rock remains an acquired taste (also that it’s a myth that the fan ballot has any serious effect on the final induction results). The Jon Anderson– Chris Squire–founded band has very few radio staples, and even among the cognoscenti their stature is a matter of some debate. So I’m not going to go out on a limb again confidently predicting a Yes induction. But as with the Spinners, every year the bands on the ballot get newer is a year these ’70s groups look more appetizing to veteran voters.

Debut nominees

The Cars
Eligible since 2003

Some bands are easy to take for granted and are just forgotten for a while, then inexplicably come back on the Nominating Committee’s radar. It’s not an outrage, exactly, that The Cars haven’t been nominated before, but it is fundamentally illogical: The new wave avatars have plenty of classic-rock cred, they’ve been longtime favorites at Rolling Stone, and their exuberant songs (“Just What I Needed!” “My Best Friend’s Girl!” “Let’s Go!” “You Might Think!”) are playing on a radio near you right now. Plus, like Chic’s Nile Rodgers, affection for frontman Ric Ocasek is strong given his production work for countless other rock acts (a few of which should be in the Hall themselves at this point but aren’t yet: Bad Brains, Suicide, Jonathan Richman). As with the Nominating Committee, my suspicion is that The Cars will be a sleeper favorite with the voters, inspiring less of the passion of some other controversial nominees but provoking enough smiles to wind up as many voters’ fourth or fifth ballot choice — which is all they would need to get inducted.

Cheap Trick
Eligible since 2002

Unlike The Cars, the lack of a nomination for the favorite sons of Rockford, Ill. has not gone unnoticed by rock fans. Cheap Trick might not rank at quite the level of a Rush or a KISS in terms of fulminating public indignation. But the core quartet of Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos and iconoclastic guitar-meister Rick Nielsen is deeply beloved by generations of rock fans, and their brand of punchy, Budokan-worthy power-pop probably should have earned them a nod long ago. The truth is, Cheap Trick have always been underappreciated by the general public — the fact that it took them until the late ’80s to top the charts, and with the songwriter-for-hire 1988 power ballad “The Flame,” was discouraging to them — and it has taken other musicians singing their praises and citing their influence to give them their due. What about the voters? It’s honestly a close call. But with this first nomination, we’ll finally have outraged fans’ long-held theory that Cheap Trick should be shoo-ins tested once and for all.

Eligible since 1994

What was I saying about Illinois-founded bands and fan indignation? If Cheap Trick’s lack of a nod prompted outrage, the full-throated anger over the Hall blowing off brass-inflected pop-rockers Chicago has reached nuclear levels. Chicago has had a different problem from the Tricksters, however, or any other debut act on this year’s ballot: perpetual uncoolness. For once, angry fans were probably right to lay the blame at elites’ feet. Some critics will go to bat for the band’s early ’70s work, when they were co-led by late guitarist Terry Kath. But even back then they were mostly pilloried by critics, and opinions never improved much, especially after Peter Cetera, the buttery vocalist behind most of their peak-era hits, left in the mid-’80s. One wonders what finally nudged the Nominating Committee to swallow its pride and nominate the group — appreciation by younger Committee members for some of Chicago’s funkier jams must have helped — but now that they’re finally on the ballot, it’s hard to see how the more populist voters won’t wave them in. There may be hell to pay if they don’t: The fan ballot doesn’t count for much in the final tally — and this year in particular, it has apparently been manipulated by rabid fans — but at this writing, Chicago leads the vote by at least 50% over their fellow nominees. Who knew Robert Lamm and Gene Simmons had so much in common?

Janet Jackson
Eligible since 2007

At 49, the youngest nominee on the Rock Hall ballot, Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) has been eligible for eight years but, arguably, has been nominated at a nearly ideal moment. Partnered with Minneapolis production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jackson was a pop innovator in the ’80s and ’90s, generating a string of hits that eventually began to eclipse her brother Michael’s. She entered the 2000s still critically acclaimed and a potent hitmaker, but the 2004 Super Bowl halftime imbroglio — for which Jackson took an excess of blame — and a string of poorly received mid-’00s albums left her in the cultural wilderness. As surely as Dixie Chicks can win Grammys, however, everybody loves a comeback story, and in 2015 Jackson, Jam and Lewis have set up the perfect platform: A new album, Unbreakable, topped the charts the same week this year’s Rock Hall shortlist was announced and has been widely received as her best disc in decades. Did the nominators know all this weeks ago, when they tapped her? Possibly not — but they, and Janet, couldn’t have set up a better advertisement for her candidacy. Like N.W.A, this not-guaranteed inductee might finally have timing on her side.

The J.B.’s
Eligible since 1995

The second legendary band to back up Godfather of Soul James Brown, after the Famous Flames, the J.B.’s fall into one of the Rock Hall’s bedeviling definitional gaps. The Hall has a hard enough time knowing what to do with inducted bands with shifting lineups (e.g., Fleetwood Mac — where’s Bob Welch? Jefferson Airplane — no Signe Anderson?). But an equally thorny problem is what to do with established, well-defined backing bands to legendary, shoo-in inductees: Buddy Holly was first inducted without the Crickets, Smokey Robinson sans the Miracles and Bruce Springsteen without the E Street Band. The Hall began righting these wrongs a few years ago, belatedly inducting exceptional backing groups to previously-inducted frontmen, including the Famous Flames, the Comets and the Midnighters. (At 2012’s ceremony, Robinson took to the podium to bring in not only his own Miracles but another five backing groups in one fell swoop. Last year, Springsteen inducted the E Streeters in a presentation that took up seemingly half the show.) The J.B.’s — Brown’s ’70s band, led by trombonist Fred Wesley and showcasing bassist Bootsy Collins — may well deserve induction even more than most backing groups, having issued around a dozen albums under their own name. But it almost doesn’t matter whether voters decide to check off the J.B.’s box — the Hall’s overseers generally make special allowances for these groups, letting them in under an expanded inductees list or, when necessary, naming them to the Hall by fiat under the “Musical Excellence” category. (Both E Street and, last year, Ringo Starr got in this way.) So, funnily enough, the J.B.’s are probably the biggest lock on this year’s ballot.

Chaka Khan
Eligible since 2003 (since 1999 for her band Rufus)

The woman with a name so rhythmic other performers can’t stop saying it, R&B goddess Chaka Khan is a little bit like the Cars’ Ric Ocasek — she has enough friends among the already Hall-inducted that it’s a wonder she didn’t make the ballot sooner. And like Bruce Springsteen, she owes her success to an ace band, Rufus, who launched her career and backed her for roughly a decade. Her early ’70s hits, including the immortal “Tell Me Something Good,” were billed to Rufus, and even after she started dropping solo albums in 1978, as late as 1983’s classic “Ain’t Nobody” she was still issuing singles as “Rufus featuring Chaka Khan.” Either way, she’s been eligible a long time — but the Hall doesn’t have much history inducting ’70s and ’80s soul singers, especially women (Donna Summer, at this point, is basically it; Gladys Knight is in with the Pips); so it’s impressive enough that the Committee thought to nominate Khan. A first-year pass from the voters is probably too much to hope for, but now that’s she’s broken onto the ballot hopefully she’ll be back if she doesn’t make it. They’d be wise to vote Chaka in, though, just to see how she’d deploy that singular voice during the ceremony’s all-star jam.

Los Lobos
Eligible since 2003

You think ’70s–’80s R&B women are rare in the Rock Hall? How about Latin rock bands? Should Los Lobos get inducted, they would find themselves in a tiny Rock Hall category alongside Santana and would certainly be the only such act of their era. But of course, the East L.A. band — founded by David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin — are more than their heritage, and they are used to being a category of one: omnivorous, experimental and adaptable roots-rockers who broke their career on a punk label and scored an improbable Spanish-language No. 1 hit with a Ritchie Valens cover. (And Cheap Trick thought they had a weird late ’80s.) Los Lobos have always been admired by the rock press, and so getting through the Rock Hall’s elite Nominating Committee was, relatively speaking, the easy part. It’s harder to see the voters inducting them right away, although the well-timed release of an acclaimed biography and some new music from the band itself can’t hurt.

Steve Miller
Eligible since 1993

It’s rare, in 2015, to find any major rock artists who started recording in the ’60s, are beloved by Baby Boomers and album-oriented rock fans, and haven’t even been nominated for the Rock Hall, let alone inducted. And yet, behold the Space Cowboy, the Gangster of Love, “Maurice” — Steve Miller: He founded his titular Steve Miller Band in San Francisco in the ’60s, began charting hit psychedelic-rock albums by 1968, became an AOR staple in the ’70s and ’80s while generating a jet airliner’s worth of Top 40 hits — and somehow this is his first nomination. Despite his truckloads of album sales, Miller has always seemed self-effacing, even invisible (he has told stories of strolling through the parking lot of his own sold-out shows and not being recognized), and slagging off the Rock Hall probably didn’t help his case with the Nominating Committee, if he even cared. But his continued relevance to both white and black pop fans is remarkable: His 1982 No. 1 funk-pop hit “Abracadabra” was a crossover R&B hit, and his classic 1976 stoner jam “Fly Like an Eagle” has been sampled in hip-hop repeatedly and was even cited as an influence on “Can’t Feel My Face,” this year’s No. 1 smash by The Weeknd. Of the ’70s-rock debutantes on this year’s ballot — Miller, the Cars, Cheap Trick, Chicago — it will be interesting to see who earns the voters’ favor. It may be tough for all of them to get in the same year. (Fun chart trivia: Miller has knocked Chicago out of the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 twice: “Rock’n Me” bumped “If You Leave Me Now” in 1976, and “Abracadabra” ejected “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” in 1982. If Miller gets inducted this year and Chicago doesn’t, Chicago’s fans with long memories may hold a grudge.)

The Final Tally

So what could a final induction list look like? Predictions are always dodgy, especially with this crop of first-timers and repeaters. If I were a betting man, I’d probably lay odds on the Cars, Chicago, Janet Jackson, the J.B.’s, Nine Inch Nails and N.W.A, with Steve Miller and Yes as close calls and Cheap Trick a dark horse (I am done betting on Chic — and for the record, if I were a voter, my ballot would look quite different). But I have been wrong before. And anything could happen, given the maddening quirks and divisive identity politics of the voters.

Those politics mean the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was probably doomed to frustrate no matter how it was structured. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine an alternate system that would work much better.

The data we have about the process bears this out. A Hall that did away with the elitist Nominating Committee would still be governed by the tastes of the 800 balloted voters. And this voting body has its own biases — it’s dominated by artists and industryites who don’t always do their homework. Besides the still-waiting Chic, check out the Future Rock Legends list of the “eventually inducted” acts who waited through years of nominations before the balloted voters got a clue, from the Velvet Underground (five nods before induction) to Gladys Knight (also five) to Del Shannon (seven) to the Stooges (eight).

As for the public’s dream of an all-fan-voted Hall, based on just three years of “fan vote” evidence, it’s pretty clear they would induct mass-appeal dude-with-guitar bands every year, ignoring the likes of Linda Ronstadt or Public Enemy — inductees who scored with the balloted voters but missed the fan vote’s top five and hence the “fan ballot.”

Unlike our democracy, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t need to exist. Given that it does, music fans should at least insist that the institution get it right. But expecting any system to represent both the breadth of Rock Era music and the predilections of millions of rock fans across the country — and not be messy and imperfect — is naïve. In the end, as with our government, we get the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame we deserve.

Music News : NPR

Blue Hair For Halloween — Copy Gwen Stefani’s Rock Star Look

Gwen Stefani Blue Hair

Getty Images

Gwen Stefani is the ultimate punk princess, and she’s been experimenting with bold dip dye colors on her platinum hair that make for the ultimate Halloween hair accessory. Channel your inner rock star by copying her fun look!

Gwen Stefani, 46, has been temporarily tinting her platinum blonde hair with a rainbow of colors since she first appeared on the scene. The singer’s most recent color switch up at her NYC concert on October 17 was a blue color blocked look that you can get whether your hair is blonde or brunette thanks to tips from Matrix Celebrity Colorist George Papanikolas.

If you want to make this dip dye look a more permanent style, George says to be warned that it requires a lot of upkeep. “You need to refresh the color every two weeks as the vibrant tones fade very quickly. It also requires you to pre-lighten the hair very pale blonde first before you can apply the [other] shades. The pre-lightning can be very harsh and damaging on [the hair] so extra moisture from Matrix Biolage HydraSource Mask is mandatory.” Whenever severe pre-lightening is required, you’ll definitely want to head to a salon to avoid damaging your hair.

If you want a look that will last through Halloween but can wash right out, use a spray like Rita Hazan Pop Color, which comes in bright blue, pink and purple shades. Once you’ve styled your hair for the night, you section your hair off and spray directly where you want the color.

Gwen Stefani’s Blue Hair — How To Get Colored Hair For Halloween

Of course, whether you specifically plan to channel Gwen or not, amazing makeup is a must — and pretty soon, you’ll be able to rock bold beauty looks straight from her collection with Urban Decay. The beauty brand shared a sneak peek of the collab with Gwen’s eyeshadow palette.

So whether you plan to channel Gwen with a full red lip and smokey eye look, or just play up the eyes on Halloween, you can use this as your palette inspiration.

What do you think of Gwen’s colorful look? Will you be rocking a similar shade for Halloween?

— Marissa DeSantis

Hollywood Life

Moving Pictures: The 15 Greatest Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Documentaries

[Photo: Getty Images]

[Photo: Getty Images]

Whether the topic is politics (with Michael Moore on the left, Dinesh D’Souza on the right), sports (ESPN’s 30 for 30 series), penguins marching (uh… March of the Penguins), or global warming ( 2006′s An Inconvenient Truth),  we are living in a golden age for documentary film-making. And fortunately for those of us who don’t want to bum out on how bad things are all the time, for penguins and  humans, the 21st century has seen a plethora of thrilling documentaries about some of hard rock and heavy metal‘s most important and iconic bands.  However, great non-fiction metal films and hard rock docs have been taking us behind the walls of Marshall stacks and inside the wailing lives of metalheads for several decades now. Being that this is Oscars week, and VH1 Classic‘s new documentary tv series Rock Icons premieres this coming Saturday, what better time to take a look back now at 15 of the very best.

The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years (1988)

Watch: Chris Holmes, live from his pool.

In 1981, director Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline of Western Civilization electrifyingly chronicled the L.A. punk scene, filming bands such as Black Flag, X, and Fear during their brief-but-bright heyday of dominating L.A.’s music scene.

Spheeris then returned seven years later to reveal those same streets awash in hair mousse, leopard-print spandex, and Headbanger’s Ball hopefuls as glam metal had completely taken over the territory.

With deadpan brilliance, Decline II intercuts interviews with ambitious poodlehead musicians (such as the guy who guarantees success for his own flashy ensemble, Wet Cherri), groupies (like two fleshy sexpots in captain’s hats and wraparound shades who assure us, “All women are bisexual!”), club owners (Riki Rachtman and Bill Gazzarri make indelible impressions) and big-ticket superstars both on the rise (Poison, Vixen) and deeply entrenched (Ozzy, Kiss, Lemmy, Alice, Aerosmith).

Decline II also showcases live performances from Faster Pussycat and a series of also-rans (London, Seduce, Odin) leading up to a ferocious final send-off from Megadeth.

The one scene for which Decline II is forever remembered, though, is a tragically uncomfortable interview with W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes while he bobs on a float in a backyard pool, insanely intoxicated. Slurring through descriptions of himself as hopeless, worthless, and alcoholic, Holmes caps the moment by dumping the contents of a vodka bottle over his head. Meanwhile, sitting a few feet away and looking understandably distressed, is Chris Holmes’s long-suffering mom. Fortunately he survived and is still around making more embarrassingly bad videos.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2003)

Watch: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster trailer

Metallica has not come by the title “the band most hated by its own fans” easily. Serious rumblings began in 1991 when the group transformed from hardcore thrash to commercial alt-metal with Metallica aka “The Black Album.” Then they cut their hair and delved deeper into mainstream rock with Load and Re-Load. That was followed by ugliness around fans downloading Metallica’s music via Napster.

Finally, Metallica inflamed even their staunchest defenders with the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, a simultaneously infuriating and mesmerizing chronicle of the recording of the group’s single most despised album, St. Anger.

The group brings in a Cosby-sweater-adorned “life coach” to talk them through their differences. Guitarist James Hetfield claims his addiction recovery enables him to work only scant and ludicrously specific hours. Drummer Lars Ulrich gloats over selling his multimillion-dollar modern art collection. Megadeth mastermind and original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine sits down to discuss how the band brutally fired him in the early ’80s.

Witnessing Hetfield and Ulrich act like entitled jerks in Monster remains one of cinema’s supreme masochistic pleasures. The irony, however, is that once the smoke from Monster and Anger cleared, fans viewed through group with fresh affection. For the biggest hard rock band of all time to allow themselves to come off looking so petty and rotten only qualifies as brave. Some Kind of Monster humanized Metallica, and the years since have been good for all involved—both on-stage and in the pit.

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10 Heavy Metal And Hard Rock Albums That Are Hated By Fans Of The Band


Everybody missteps sometimes, even the mightiest overlords of heavy metal sound and fury.

In fact, for a metal band (or any band, really) to truly attain legend status, it seems as though they’ve got to experience one colossal blunder, be it a major performance gone wrong (Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 St. Louis Riverport Riot), a mortifying music video (Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonite”), or, toughest of all to take, an eagerly anticipated album that hits listeners in every wrong way possible.

Some audience-rejected records bomb so severely that they blow the band to smithereens. Others just slip into obscurity and everybody simply slinks away from the wreckage. The following musical misfires from fanatically followed metal giants, however, represent catastrophic career milestones that brought on historic hatred from each group’s own most fervent devotees. That accomplishment, in itself, is highly, heavily metal.

1. Metallica St. Anger (2003)

“St. Anger”

Any list of this nature could only begin with Metallica, a group that has spectacularly and repeatedly earned the descriptor, “the band most hated by its own fans.” From cutting their hair to suing Napster, the group’s non-musical endeavors come off prickly enough, but for most of their career now, each successive Metallica album seems to infuriate on immediate impact—while simultaneously selling millions.

The split began in 1991 with the self-titled Metallica, more commonly known as “the Black Album.” Long-time devotees despised the record’s slick songwriting and even slicker production, but the Black Album is what turned Metallica into the biggest-selling hard rock band of all time.

This type of old-fans-out/new-fans-in divisiveness intensified throughout the ’90s over the records Load and Re-Load. Finally, come the 21st century, Metallica managed to unite listeners worldwide as one with the 2003 release of their long-in-the-making opus, St. Anger: seemingly everyone on earth instantly and psychotically hated what they heard.

With producer Bob Rock (already scorned by vintage Metallica fans for his work with Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe) playing bass, St. Anger boasts a hissing overall sound, tinny drums, and, insanely, not a single guitar solo. The songs are harsh, directionless, and repellant enough to suggest that some day some art school nerds might reclaim St. Anger as an avant-garde masterpiece. The rest of humanity will still loathe it, though.

Not helping the album’s reception was Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, a brutally brilliant big-screen documentary that chronicled the making of St. Anger in which two key members of Metallica come off as out-of-touch, egomaniacal brats (hint: there were only three at the time, and one of the slap-inviting blowhards is not lead guitarist Kirk Hammett).

Aside from the 2011 bungle Lulu with Lou Reed, that simply got mocked into oblivion, Metallica have largely healed the rift they caused with fans in the early 2000s. The carefully crafted Death Magnetic was well received in 2008 (although that, too, sparked online uproar over how its sound was “compressed”), and the group has since mounted the Orion musical festival and released the really rather kickass 2014 3D concert movie, Through the Never. Still, they’ll mess up again, somehow. They’re Metallica. That’s what they do.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

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