The words just flew out of my mouth. I was inside the Theater At Madison Square Garden for the 4th annual Jammy Awards when I issued my not-so-subtle plea. A representative of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was approaching the stage and I couldn’t keep the injustice of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s absence from the Hall of Fame to myself any longer. It’s not like the balloting for Cooperstown. Indiscretions and sorted vices cannot thwart an artist’s admittance. In rock and roll, those things are not just accepted, but expected. But just as is the case in the world of sports, enshrinement is not simply a testament to the longevity of one’s career. It serves as permanent evidence of the artist’s impact and a measure of their legacy. Since they became eligible in 1999 Lynyrd Skynyrd has been nominated for admission and has come up short. To some, Skynyrd is just confederate flags and reckless whiskey drinking. To others, they are just the handful of tunes that are still in heavy rotation at almost every classic rock station in this country. For many, Skynyrd’s lasting legacy is “Free Bird,” not only for the song’s gargantuan length, but for its mystique. People scream out for it, albeit sometimes sarcastically, at shows to this day. It has become Southern rock’s answer to “Stairway To Heaven.” But, just as was the case with Led Zeppelin, Skynyrd had a tougher time pleasing critics than it did selling albums. Although the concept for Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous was initially based on his 1972 interview with the Allman Brothers Band, there are no two bands that he still writes about than Zeppelin and Skynyrd. The former group has its legacy cemented inside and outside of the Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland. Zeppelin will be remembered as the grandfathers of every hard rock genre, while those listen more closely will discover the skill with which they transformed the delta blues. They always resented the critical praise seemingly reserved only for the Rolling Stones, but continue find legions of fans in each coming generation.
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