Dean Martin could be “swaying” his way into America’s Pop Music Hall of Fame. Add to that the Bee Gees, whose legacy will be “stayin’ alive” if they are selected for the Canonsburg-based music museum, and Buddy Holly, who won’t “fade away” if he makes the cut.
These are just three of the 25 groups and singers who have been nominated for the pop hall of fame, which is still in the planning stages. From that selection, which includes artists as diverse as the Supremes and Simon & Garfunkel, 10 new inductees will be chosen by popular vote on the music hall’s website.
This is the second time the nominations board has reached out to the public to make the final decision. Last March, 14 artists were inducted into the hall of fame, including Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash, as well as Canonsburg locals Bobby Vinton and Perry Como.
Terry Hazlett, head of the nominations board, said thousands of people voted last year, and he was surprised that Johnny Mathis received more votes than Elvis and the Beatles. Hazlett said locals understand the concept of the pop hall of fame, which includes musicians who have had a score of Billboard hits, but may not fit the bill for Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“That meant a lot to us because it meant that the public got it, that it was a pop music hall of fame,” Hazlett said. “(Johnny Mathis) is a pop star. He’ll never, ever get in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
A panel of eight local people selected nearly 50 artists who had a Billboard hit between 1945 and 1970. The list was then sent to disc jockeys, musicians and writers across the country, who narrowed the list to 25 nominees. Hazlett said the nominees were primarily judged on their popularity, but also their influence on culture.
Hazlett said the board hopes to induct 10 new artists each year, and each year the nominees will include more recent artists.
“We wanted to make sure some of the artists from the ’50s and ’60s got in before we started expanding into the ’70s and ’80s,” Hazlett said. “As long as there’s popular music, there will be people to induct. I don’t think we’ll run out of inductees any time soon.”
Hazlett said he is personally rooting for the Monkees, who have never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“They were a terrific pop band,” Hazlett said. “They wrote songs, they played all the instruments. They very much deserve to be in a hall of fame, and I think they fit the bill perfectly.”
Hazlett said museum coordinators have asked artists to send memorabilia, and they have received several guitars signed by musicians including country singer Vince Gill and rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders.
An induction ceremony will be held next year in spring or fall, and a feasibility study is currently under way to determine what size the hall of fame should be.
In addition to Martin, the Bee Gees, Holly, the Supremes, the Monkees and Simon & Garfunkel, nominated this year are the Carpenters, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Platters, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Chicago, the Four Seasons, Elton John, Patti Page, Three Dog Night, Pat Boone, Dion, Connie Francis, Carole King, Ricky Nelson, Gene Pitney, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and Dionne Warwick.
To vote on the 2014 inductees, visit www.americaspopmusichalloffame.org.