By now, you've likely all seen the news. Metallica is going to be enshrined in the rock and roll hall of fame April 4th in Cleveland.
I'm acutely aware of the varying opinions of Metallica in the metal community, and I know that debate will rage on for months and year and decades more. Still, I stand that this is one of the biggest days in heavy metal history.
This is perhaps the first day that metal has been accepted by the musical community as a whole. The history of the genre is that it has always been treated as an outsider, its best successes glaringly overlooked by the musical and journalistic public as a whole.
Never is this fact more evident than if you happen to catch any of those absurd, anger inspiring "history" of metal shows on the various cable networks. Always do they talk about Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Poison, etc. None of those things are truly metal. (Before you get all carried away, Zep fans, I love 'em too. I own all the albums except 'Coda.' But c'mon, they're not metal. Live with it.) Nowhere is there made mention of Slayer, Iron Maiden, so many others. Until today.
Love or hate Metallica (and I've gone through periods of both,) their induction legitmizes metal music on the whole. Yes, there is an argument to be made that any metal deemed legit isn't really metal; that because the genre has always existed on the fringe, mainstream acceptance goes against everything that metal stands for. I get the argument, but you can't tell me that Annihilator would turn down the chance to have the exposure of Metallica.
Still, look at the facts. I never thought for any length of time that Metallica, or any thrash metal band would see the inside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before Motley Crue. Some of this is timing, I'm sure. The popularity and critical acceptance of "Death Magnetic," did nothing but help Metallica's case, and the Crue hasn't exactly kickstarted anything in a while, much less their own collective heart. But still, isn't Motley Crue sort of the de facto band that people who don't know metal think of?
Hair metal, butt of jokes and light in the eye of the mainstream post-Woodstock crowd, has no representatives in the Hall of Fame, and now the Big New Wave of American Heavy Metal has one.
Could this open the door? After the Ramones were inducted in 2002, they were quickly followed in subsequent years by the Clash and the Sex Pistols. Who could follow Metallica in? Judas Priest (who should be in already,) Iron Maiden (ditto,) Venom? What about Slayer, Motorhead, Nine Inch Nails? KMFDM, Anthrax, Rage Against the Machine? Probably just dreaming, but could we actually rise up and stage a bullet-belted, leather-jacketed, spiked-shouldered invasion of the Hall?
Anyway, here's the debate that got sparked among myself and my co-workers. Who stands on the podium as Metallica's bassist? Certainly, no one would be a classy gesture, if they then recognized Cliff Burton. Barring that, would Newsted be there? After all, love it or hate it, it's entirely possible that none of this even begins without the Black Album, and then his subsequent tenure....In the end, I'm sure that Rob Trujillo will be the one standing there. As much as I like the guy, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that. On the other hand, as I mentioned before, maybe Metallica doesn't get the nod if "Death Magnetic" doesn't get the mass media over the Napster/hair cutting/St. Anger anti-trifecta.
The big question we posed to each other was "will Dave Mustaine be there?" My answer is a resounding "no." While he does share part of the band's success story, I would imagine that being there for the induction would twist the knife in Dave's stomach as he dreams what could have been. Who knows? Maybe Megadeth will have their day some day. Hell, I'm listening to "Peace Sells..." right now.
As a side note, I understand why Run DMC is getting in. Yeah, they brought a lot of interesting production to bear, and made mainstream rap possible to a degree. I've always thought them a little overrated, though. I'm happy they put Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five in before Run DMC, but a little upset that Public Enemy hasn't gotten the nod yet. Philistines.