The Rock Hall’s Most Epic Fail: The Absence of Carol Kaye

The woman behind the soundtrack of our lives. #EachforEqual #IWD2020 #EveryWoman #RRHOF

Just a little over a month ago, the Rock and Roll of Fame announced their recipients of their awards for the year 2020. As has become the norm, numerous online posts lament the inclusion of many seminal artists. Five years ago, I created a series of posters spotlighting the women who have been inducted. Mind you, I had to do the statistical research myself, as the Rock Hall does not break down inductees by gender, nationality or ethnicity. At that time, less than 9 percent of all inductees were women, and sadly, little has changed. In fact, the only bright light among my research was that unlike the men inducted, over 50 percent of the women inducted were persons of color.

Is there obvious sexism going on here? Well, is the Pope Catholic? The Rock Hall states the following: “Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.”

Carol Kaye, 1955. Photo courtesy of the artist.

I can’t solely lay the blame on the Rock Hall, however. Anytime the mere mention of voting comes around, all I primarily see are people posting about their favorite performers. Don’t think that I don’t get it: performers are the more visible choices. What this almost never includes are women in the business who do not wish to be center stage. The problem is that when we only talk about lead performers, we somehow are dismissing the great talents that women bring to the industry.

You want to go on about Siouxsie and the Banshees, who are an obvious public snub and deserve to be in, but never give thought, by and large, to other careers in the business. Vivian Carter was the first woman to run a record company, Vee Jay; she was also a person of color. Susan Rogers is an audio engineer and currently a college professor. Of course we cannot forget the late Linda Creed, one of the most gifted songwriters of any generation.

When you hear somebody with balls, that’s me.

Carol Kaye

But, you know, don’t take my word for it. Look no further than the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom and hear singer Lisa Fischer’s story.

No one batted an eye when drummer Hal Blaine was inducted as a Sideman in 2000, a brand new Rock Hall category that year. Of course, a woman he worked with, Carol Kaye, has been totally ignored. Kaye, originally from Everett, Washington, relocated with her family to the harbor area of Los Angeles, Wilmington, in the 1940’s. She eventually started out playing in Jazz clubs, and became one of the most in-demand session musicians in her adopted home town, playing on over 10,000 recordings. She started off on guitar, but is most notably known for her work on the Fender Precision bass. She was the only woman in the group of session musicians eventually known as The Wrecking Crew, who played on more hits that you could list at any given time of the day.

Carol Kaye, 2015. Photo by Sally Stewart, courtesy of the LA Weekly.

She retired several years ago, but make no mistake: Her influence is everywhere, and without you knowing it, has become the backbone of the soundtrack to our lives. I always state that this program is about letting the music do the talking. Trust me, children of the revolution, you will never hear these songs in the same way again.

I am dedicating this program to another international woman, Coral Mallow. She has been under the weather lately, and I sincerely hope this program brings you some much needed joy during your convalescence. Are you still playing the saxophone, my lovely? I sure hope so.

First Part

  • A Natural Man, Lou Rawls
  • La Bamba, Ritchie Valens
  • Summertime (Pt. 1), Sam Cooke
  • These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, Nancy Sinatra
  • Sloop John B, The Beach Boys
  • Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell
  • Then He Kissed Me, The Crystals

Second Part

  • Games People Play, Joe South
  • The Beat Goes On, Sonny and Cher
  • The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand
  • Feelin’ Alright, Joe Cocker
  • I Don’t Need No Doctor, Ray Charles
  • Hungry Freaks, Daddy, Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention

Third Part

  • Batman TV Theme, The Markettes
  • M.A.S.H. TV Theme (Suicide Is Painless), Johnny Mandel
  • Green Acres TV Theme, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor
  • Mission: Impossible TV Theme, Lalo Schifrin
  • Ironside (full version) TV Theme, Quincy Jones
  • Hawaii Five-O TV Theme, Mort Stevens & His Orchestra
  • Wonder Woman TV Theme, New World Symphony


  • Light My Fire, The Doors

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer, Webmaster, Researcher and Writer

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