Thirty-seven years after the Cars raced out of Boston with a radio-friendly collision of new wave, pop, and rock, the band is finally up for a distinction that fans have long argued it deserves.
On Thursday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the Cars are among 15 bands or solo artists who are nominated for next year’s induction.
It’s the first nomination for the Boston-bred band, whose original lineup included Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and David Robinson. The Cars join an eclectic mix of nominees this year, including Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, the Smiths, N.W.A, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Chaka Khan, Cheap Trick, Yes, the J.B.’s (James Brown’s backup band), Los Lobos, the Spinners, Chicago, and 10-time nominees Chic.
“It is what it is, but actually I don’t pay any attention to that whatsoever,” Robinson, the band’s drummer, said when reached Thursday at the North Shore art gallery he owns. “It isn’t anything we’ve strived for, let’s put it that way.”
Robinson, 66, said he hadn’t talked with his bandmates yet, but suspects “we’re all on the same page” about the nomination.
“It remains to be seen whether it’s going to happen,” he said, “but I’d be happy to represent Boston because it’s a great rock ’n’ roll town.” (If inducted, the Cars would join Aerosmith, Donna Summer, and James Taylor as prominent Hall of Famers with local roots.)
It’s a long-overdue nod for the Cars, who emerged in the late 1970s with classics such as “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed.” The band hit its commercial stride in the ’80s with “Shake It Up,” scoring its first No. 1 single with 1984’s “You Might Think” followed by “Magic” and the enduring ballad “Drive” (all together now:
After a nearly 25-year hiatus, the Cars returned in 2011 for its latest album, “Move Like This.” Robinson said at the moment the band has no plans to record or tour again, but he would certainly welcome the opportunity.
More than 800 members of the music industry, including artists and historians, vote on the inductees. Artists are eligible for the honor 25 years after their first music (either single or album) is released, which this year means 1990 or earlier.
Fans can vote on their top five nominees by casting their ballot at RollingStone.com and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website (www
.rockhall.com). (“The fan votes will comprise a fans’ ballot that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2016 inductees,” the nomination form states.) When a reporter voted Thursday morning, the Cars were already in third place with nearly 61,000 votes, behind Janet Jackson and Chicago.
The class of 2016 will be announced in December and inducted in April at a ceremony in New York, which HBO will broadcast later.
Watch some the the Cars’ greatest hits: