I know what you’re thinking: Who are Classics IV? There are many lists of acts who have been unfairly snubbed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and this is not an act that tends to be thought of, and yet a compelling case can be made that they belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Those who know of this band and are fond of its music, as I am, are likely to be fans of one or both of the following types of music: soft rock and Southern rock. Based out of Jacksonville, Florida , this band released seven albums between 1968 and 1973, only two of which cracked the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart. Yet this account of the career of the band neglects the fact that this band was influential in blazing a trail for the Southern soft rock sound. If the band had done nothing more than release a few obscure and forgotten albums, their place in Rock & Roll History would be secure in that they made the world safe for a whole host of Southern soft rock balladeers as diverse as .38 Special and Kid Rock. Whether or not they were an acknowledged influence of such artists, their music made it possible for Southern soft rock to have a strong radio audience, which made for a dramatic change in the fortunes of Southern rock music in the larger picture of the music business.
The Influence Of Classics IV
Led by the late singer Dennis Yost, Classics IV is best known for three top 5 hits from 1967 to 1969: Spooky, Stormy, and Traces. These songs remain played on easy listening and adult rock stations to this day, as I can attest to from my own experience, and they have been covered by artists as diverse as Andy Williams, Lawrence Welk, Dusty Springfield, Joan Osborne, Santana, and Billy Paul. Any time you write songs that can be covered by that company, you are doing something right. So, even though Classics IV was not known as an album act, their songs have clearly been recognized and have remained important over the course of the last few decades. That lasting recognition signifies that the band truly has influenced others through their music. But it was their approach to music as well that was worthy of interest. By showing artists (and music labels) that there was a considerable demand for soft rock music with Southern flavor, they opened a whole new career track for Southern musicians as soft rock balladeers. Many later artists would follow their trail and sing Southern-flavored adult contemporary music, especially towards the later parts of their careers. It would be hard to imagine .38 Special’s “Second Chance” without thinking of the prior influence of Classics IV in showing how such a song could be immensely successful.
Why Classics IV Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The influence of Classics IV rests on the enduring value of their music as well as the nature of their formative role in creating a Southern soft rock sound that others would successfully imitate to the present day. On the side of the enduring nature of their music, their three top 5 hits “Spooky,” “Stormy,” and “Traces” have remained vital songs from the late 1960’s. Likewise, there seems to be no shortage of country or Southern Rock acts who have been able to profit from appealing to Adult contemporary fans, whether we are talking about .38 Special, Faith Hill, or Lady Antebellum, all of whom have followed the playbook of Southern soft rock and earned a great deal of popular support and radio hits as a result of adopting this sound. To be sure, not everyone may be as big a fan of soft rock as I happen to be, but those who are a fan of this genre in particular should show some appreciation for a band that managed to place one of their songs on the soundtrack to HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” If that’s not influence, what is?
Why Classics IV Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Soft rock is not a genre that has gotten a lot of respect in many circles and there are many acts of this nature that have not yet been inducted despite their obvious importance and influence within the larger world of rock music . It’s time to give this soft rock pioneer band it’s due.
Verdict: Induct them.
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