Norah Jones had better sit down and write a thank-you note to the Grammy Awards. The bounce from her five Grammy wins last Sunday sounds like ka-ching at the cash register. She looks to be on track to sell a good 500,000 copies of her debut album, Come Away With Me.
Norah isn't the only one who did well from the Grammy Awards. Fellow Generation Y star John Mayer had a huge sales increase for his Room for Squares, which was to be expected.
(You remember him: He played his song in jeans and a T-shirt for the audience, then changed into a designer tux for the parties. Smart kid.) Mayer's first album also sold well last week, dragging it out of obscurity into the Top 40.
As for Bruce Springsteen, there wasn't much rising for The Rising, but it may sell a good 25,000 copies off his Grammy appearances. But Bruce doesn't need the Grammys. Over the weekend he sold out seven July shows in New Jersey in a day. It's a record. Norah Jones and John Mayer will never be able to do that. Ever.
Here's a funny postscript to the Grammys vis a vis record sales, though: Warner Strategic Marketing has a hit with its 2003 Grammy Nominees compilation CD. The funny thing — or sad thing, your call — is only two of 19 the tracks came from the Warner Music Group releases. They're all either Universal, Sony, EMI or BMG.
Here's more on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has its dinner scheduled for next Monday at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Foundation president Suzan Evans-Hochberg's salary has been the subject of discussion since we first revealed it in 2000.
The answer from her supporters is that she spends six months of every year diligently selecting the new inductees.
But no matter how much work she does or doesn't do, she has skipped selectively through the 1970s, denying the precious award to (among others) Carole King, whose Tapestry was the best-selling album of all time for years. King does have a songwriter's award with her ex-husband Gerry Goffin, but not a separate entry.
Ritchie Valens, singer of 'La Bamba,' who perished 'The Day the Music Died' in 1959, also has no award. Neither do R&B groups The Dells, The O'Jays, or The Manhattans. Also missing from the Rock Hall's self-made history: Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder, Iggy Pop with and without the Stooges, the MC5, Jack Scott, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Black Sabbath, The Who, Blue Öyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Chicago, the Moody Blues, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carla Thomas, Irma Thomas, Sonny and Cher, Jimmy Webb, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Gram Parsons, Genesis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull and Hall & Oates.
According to the Hall of Fame's charter, all of those acts should have preceded this year's crop by several years. Artists are supposedly eligible 25 years after their first release. Nevertheless, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson each have been inducted twice — once as part of a group, the second time as a solo act.
This year the Hall will induct, as usual, three sidemen from old sessions. Luckily, they're all dead, so they won't be playing.
Mo Ostin, the head of DreamWorks Records and the longtime chairman of the old Warner Bros. Records — the home of people like Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt — will get the executive's award.
Ostin is still close to fellow Warner group Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation leaders Ahmet Ertegun and Seymour Stein, which didn't hurt his chances of getting in. Arif Mardin, the producer who gave Atlantic many of its hits in the '70s and '80s but was pushed out of the company a few years ago, is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His vindication, however, is that he produced Norah Jones' album and won the Grammy last week. It seems there is a god.
But Chubby Checker, the man who made 'The Twist' a hit twice, has vocally expressed his unhappiness with the Hall of Fame. They've refused to induct him on the grounds that inductees Hank Ballard and the Midnighters made the original recording, which Checker later covered. It was a hit in 1961 and 1963; Checker also had hits with 'The Peppermint Twist' and 'Let's Twist Again.'
The Dells, still performing, are the longest-running vocal group with their original members intact.
On the financial side, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation is riddled with questions. According to the foundation's IRS filing in 2001, Evans-Hochberg now makes $175,000, down from a high of $300,000 (which this column revealed two years ago). Ouch!
There's also a miscellaneous listing of another $71,000 in salaries. Despite her own happy financial picture, Evans sent a mere $3,051 in assistance to specific musicians in need in 2001. Even this makes for a contradiction in the foundation's tax filing, since elsewhere in the same paperwork it claims to have given $18,674 to "provide financial assistance to individuals who have been or continue to be involved in the rock and roll music industry." Where that extra $15,000 goes is a mystery.
The foundation also lists $123,624 to "preserve and protect historical documents, records, and artifacts related to the rock and roll music industry."
Interestingly, 2001 — the year of Evans' sudden salary cut after many years of steadily rising income — was the first year that the Hall of Fame Foundation declared that it was doing anything about preservation. The Cleveland museum is charged with that responsibility.
On their last tax filing, the Hall of Fame Foundation also says it has promised $500,000 to the museum, but so far has only ponied up about $130,000. Last year's filing, by the way, was signed by Evans and entertainment attorney Allen Grubman, the group's treasurer.
Repeated attempts to get a response from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on these issues have gone unanswered.