When you think of the names of people who are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame more than one time, you get names like Erik Clapton (inducted three times), Jeff Beck, Johnny Carter, David Crosby, Peter Gabriel, all four members of the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, Graham Nash, Clyde McPhatter, Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, Gregg Rolie, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Sammy Strain, Ronnie Wood, and Neil Young. Most of these are names that are extremely familiar and have had a large and obvious effect on the history of Rock & Roll. Does Alex Chilton deserve to be on this list? That is the question I ask myself when I examine the career of the obscure blue-eyed soul boy band (?!) The Box Tops. Chilton, of course, has yet to be inducted once, much less twice, but seeing as he was a key member of both The Box Tops and Big Star, it is fair to ask whether he deserves to be inducted twice as both groups have had an important, if somewhat obscure, role in Rock & Roll History. I myself think that yes, Alex Chilton deserves to be in that elite group of people who have been inducted more than once along with a few other people .
The Influence Of The Box Tops
Who were the Box Tops? They were a major blue-eyed soul group in the mid to late 1960’s that sang a mixture of thoughtful covers as well as songs written by their producers. They were an early and successful example of the boy band, a type of act that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is going to need to get used to dealing with especially when one looks at the music of the 1990’s. And in stark contrast to many of the boy bands I will be writing about in the future (*sigh*), this is a band whose music has aged remarkably well. Their influence rests in providing a lane for future boy bands of similar approach to music like the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync (and Boyz II Men , if the case is pressed), in starting the career of Alex Chilton, who would later form Big Star and have a lengthy solo career as well, and in showing the influence of bands like Procol Harum on the music of their time, which adds to their own relevance as a hopefully future member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame–I will get to them if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame does not induct them first. The band was hampered by the exploitation of their label/management, but that is certainly a cautionary tale that bears repeating as part of the rock & roll life.
Why The Box Tops Deserve To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The blue-eyed soul phenomenon of the second half of the 1960’s is one that has not been fully addressed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and this band was among the most significant acts of that genre. While it may be a bit uncomfortable to recognize the importance of white acts in performing black music for white audiences that might not have been interested in hearing the original acts, the Box Tops were not content to simply exploit black culture as mere imitators. They had a #1 hit with their first hit “The Letter,” a #2 hit with “Cry Like A Baby,” and managed to have a few top 40 hits that have been remembered as minor classics such as “Neon Rainbow,” “Choo Choo Train,” “I Met Her In Church,” “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March,” and “Soul Deep.” This is a body of work that stands up to their peers of the era, and they were not only successful in the United States but also in other English speaking areas like Canada, the UK, and Australia, showing they had some considerable and broad appeal as an act. Even if they are a bit obscure nowadays, that is something worth remembering and celebrating.
Why The Box Tops Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Admittedly, it’s not very hard to understand why the band has not yet been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Many of the blue-eyed soul acts of their time are not nearly as well-remembered now as they were appreciated in their own time, and contemporary social concerns has made it a bit difficult to appreciate the acts in an age where cultural appropriation is viewed far more negatively than it was in the past. Even so, the band is fondly remembered by those who are historians of the genre and they could certainly use the additional attention that would result from being inducted with their music familiar to a new generation of music fans.
Verdict: Put them in, but there are a lot of bands waiting along with them, some of them as obscure and talented as they are.
 See, for example: