Class of 2021
R.E.M.was born in January of 1980, in the small college town of Athens, Georgia where guitarist Peter Buck, singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry rehearsed together for the first time, and in April of the same year, they made their concert debut—without a name mind you—at a converted Episcopalian church. That show marked the beginning of the band’s remarkable and sometimes troubled path from local notoriety to mainstream acceptance and, with it, the rise of America’s postpunk underground.
In 1981, R.E.M. released their first single Radio Free Europe and the rest is history. With over 85 million albums worldwide, multiple Grammy awards and countless other accolades to their credit. However, this was a band that should’ve had no chance of becoming what they did. They were too odd, too hard to unpack. From day one, contemporaries like U2 had soaring hooks and that arena-reaching power that seemed destined to conquer the world through a combination of ambition, star power, and guitar riffs. That power didn’t stop R.E.M.. It fueled them. Against all odds, they became one of the most transformative bands of the time. With no gratuitous guitar solos, no liner notes to sing along to questionably political content, a mandolin as a featured instrument, and no pretentious off-shoot solo albums by its members. They were a true American indie rock group destined for greater things.
With the support of college radio stations like WBER and the underground music scene, R.E.M. was instrumental in creating an alternative club circuit that catered to the growing market of young fans disgruntled by commercial radio and the spectacle of arena-rock. Over their 31-year career, R.E.M. showed the world, and other bands such as Nirvana, Pavement, and Jars of Clay, that you could stick to your guns and keep making the music you heard in your head even if it wasn’t fashionable—especially if it wasn’t fashionable.
Throughout R.E.M.’s career, its members sought to use their platform to highlight social and political issues and are considered to be one of the United States’ most liberal and politically correct rock groups. R.E.M. helped raise funds for environmental, feminist, and human rights causes, and was involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration and more.
After Bill Berry left the band in 1997, the band continued its career into the new millennium with mixed critical and commercial success and amicably called it quits in 2011. It would not be until January of 2021 when R.E.M. received their most coveted honor: Inclusion into the WBER Hall of Fame’s Junior class.
Depeche Mode is one of the most influential electronic bands in history. Formed in 1980 in Basildon, in the U.K, founding members included schoolmates Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher, who brought on fellow local musician Martin Gore. Later that year, lead singer David Gahan joined and named the band Depeche Mode after a French fashion magazine.
They were discovered by Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, who loved their sound and energy – they struck a hand-shake deal, a relationship that continues to this day. One of their early singles “New Life,” climbed to #11 on the UK charts in 1981 and got them their first appearance on Top of the Pops.
Vince Clarke left the band shortly after their first album and went on to much success with Yazoo and Erasure. Martin Gore stepped up to take over songwriting responsibilities, with their sound evolving darker over the following years. Alan Wilder joined in 1982, lending his musical talents and production skills.
Their most epic concert was held in June 1988, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, with over 60,000 in attendance, and captured in the “101” documentary. The 101 concert was the first time David Gahan led the “wheatfield” arm waving during “Never Let Me Down Again.” This has been recreated in every concert since and remains a fan favorite (see the 4:58 mark, Never Let Me Down Again.
Their landmark album, Violator, followed in 1990, launching massive hits “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus.” Successive studio albums followed 14 in total. In spite of Alan Wilder’s departure in 1995, the trio of Gore, Fletcher, and Gahan has continued, releasing their most recent album, Spirit, in 2017. Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, with major bands citing their influence, including Arcade Fire, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Linkin Park.
When asked recently to comment on why Depeche Mode should be recognized in the WBER Hall of Fame, legendary producer Gareth Jones remarked “brilliant songwriting” coupled with a willingness to experiment with sound and continuously evolve. The death of founding member Andy Fletcher in May 2022 leaves the future of the band uncertain, but their legacy will undoubtedly live on for generations to come.
Before they were the Talking Heads, David Byrne, and Chris Frantz called themselves The Artistics. In the early 1970’s David Byrne (Guitarist/Vocalist), Chris Frantz (drummer), and Tina Weymouth (bassist) met at the Rhode Island School of Design and moved to New York to pursue their creative talents of making music.
Only a year later they found themselves opening for the Ramones at the influential club CBGBS in NYC. This was their first show under the musical incarnation of Talking Heads. The following year, Jerry Harrison from Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers joins the Talking Heads as their keyboardist. Seymour Stein, co-found of Sire Records happened to be at that very show. To the tune of Psycho Killer, Stein fell under the spell of the Talking Heads’ insistent rhythm and ominous lyrics. By 1977
Talking Heads were signed to Sire Records and released their debut album, Talking Heads:77 on September 16th . Psycho Killer was the only song from that album to make it to the Billboard Hot 100 and it peaked at #92. This was just the beginning of their recording career. They would go on to produce 8 studio albums, 2 live albums, 9 compilation albums, a plethora of singles, EPS, and fan favorite 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense.
Talking Heads has won several awards throughout their career, Including, the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film – Honored for Wild Wild Life from the film True Stories, and the MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video– Honored for Wild Wild Life in 1987. Talking Heads was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 64th Grammy Awards in 2021, and was voted by you, the listeners into the WBER Hall of Fame.
Class of 2020
From the piano bar circuit in Washington D.C. to the airwaves in Rochester, NY, Tori Amos is best known for her prodigious level of musicality but also her rebellious and forward-thinking attitude. Her career started at age eighteen and like many WBER artists, Amos always pushed the limits of rock music by incorporating synths, pop, and of course alternative styles into her work. She is known for her spontaneous nature both in her recorded works and her live shows.
Between her solo work and her work with her late Glitz Metal band, Y Kant Tori Read, the creative has earned eight Grammy nominations, was named one of the top five touring acts in 2003 by Rolling Stone, and her most successful song, “A Sorta Fairytale,” reached #1 on the US Adult Alternative Charts.
Tori Amos is a fearless leader in the music industry and a strong female voice for change. Tori has a commitment to the forward motion of not only music but alternative rock. Her social activism, especially in conjunction with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the United States makes her a strong example of an artist focused on change for the better. Her cult-like following and numerous performances in Rochester, NY make her the second inductee for the WBER Hall of Fame, Class of 2020.
David Bowie is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. With over 100 Million sold, Bowie is remembered not only a songwriter, but an experimentalist and a trailblazer for mainstreaming creativity and individualism.
Popularizing glam rock in the 1970s, inspiring punk rock, and a voice for those unheard and misunderstood is just a shortlist of the accomplishments that Bowie achieved in his life. With twenty-seven studio albums, six Grammy Awards, and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, Bowie is an artist who has impacted and touched countless lives.
His impact on the alternative rock genre and of course his memorable actions in 1976 right here in Rochester, NY, are just two of the many reasons that he is the first inductee in the WBER Hall of Fame, Class of 2020.
Alternative Rock group Guster hails from the fellow northeast city, Boston, Massachusetts. Formed during their college years at Tufts University in the early 1990s, the group gained following from their underground following until their mainstream break in 1999 with their third album “Lost and Gone Forever.”
The band’s humor and spontaneity are some of the qualities that have allowed them to be so well-loved in the world of alternative rock. In a 2001 show right here in Rochester, the group started the show without being on stage, and in the style of “Price is Right,” ran up to the stage when their name was called. They were hiding in the audience, much to the surprise of their fans.
Guster is a regular on the WBER’s Year-End Countdown and absolutely a favored group of the stations. Just ask our GM, Joey! They are recognized for their strong connection with their fans, their commitment to the environment, and activism around it and are our third and final inductee for the WBER Hall of Fame, Class of 2020.
Class of 2019
New York City is home to the infamous rap-rock group, Beastie Boys. The experimental punk hardcore infused rap has reached extreme commercial success. Entertainment Industry tycoon, Rick Rubin, played an instrumental role in the progress of the group’s career, signing them to the (then) brand new Def Jam Records in 1984.
Since their formation, the group has sold twenty million records, making them the biggest selling Rap group since Billboard’s record of sales in the early 1990s. With seven platinum albums, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and three Grammy wins, Beastie Boys are known for their intersection of the alternative and rap worlds. The group disbanded after original member Adam “MCA” Yauch died of cancer in 2012.
Their unique sound can be heard on many of WBER’s shows, program lists and Year-End Countdowns. They can be heard on shows like the Friday Morning Show and are a listener favorite. For these reasons, they are inducted into the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).
The Clash is one of the original artists in the British punk rock scene. Their contributions in the music industry include their involvement in the post-punk and new wave movements and of course blending punk with a variety of genres such as funk, ska, and reggae. Their artistic reach was at first limited to the United Kingdom but eventually reached the United States in the late 1970s. The group has achieved much commercial success with their double-platinum certification for “Rock the Casbah” in 1982 and being named one of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” by Rolling Stone.
In popular culture, The Clash has remained an icon. They are deemed the “original punk rockers” in the British Music Industry but their influence reaches much greater audiences. Their intersection with genres such as Reggae allowed for new audiences to be connected, most notably in Spanish-speaking cultures. The band has gone on to inspire current artists like Arctic Monkeys and the White Stripes. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been recorded covering The Clash songs when they play shows in London.
The band’s innovation and intersection across numerous sectors of music allows them to stand out and be a strong example of pioneers for alternative music. The group’s mission of creating music and social change can still be felt, decades after they disbanded. Their work is recognized at WBER, earning them a spot in the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).
England’s ever-evolving, captivating and gothic group, The Cure has found its way into the warm world of WBER. From 1978 in a schoolyard to some of the most iconic venues worldwide, The Cure has managed to navigate the changing audience that the alternative rock genre provides. Their commercial success represents this with their thirty million global album sales, two BRIT Awards, and 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction.
The Cure is considered one of the most influential alternative rock groups of all time. They are credited with being one of the pioneers for the genre, being one of its’ first to chart in the mainstream music industry. You can hear their influence in iconic rock groups such as Smashing Pumpkins and Interpol. Their creative works have the ability to blend so many different worlds together. Their music videos are considered cinematic works of art, bringing together humor, sadness, and even dread.
The Cure is known and loved by music consumers. Here at WBER, they are best known for their prolific presence in programming, Year-End Charts, and listeners’ requests. Most notably, their song “Friday I’m In Love” is played at 7:00 AM on the Friday Morning Show. For these reasons, they are inducted into the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).
Folk-Alternative Rock leader, Ani DiFranco is also a friendly face here in Rochester, New York. DiFranco is another hometown musician, having grown up in Buffalo. A female powerhouse, Ani understood her passion for the music industry from a young age and created her own record label, Righteous Babe Records, at the age of nineteen. A year later, she released her debut album in conjunction with her studies in poetry in New York City.
DiFranco formally broke into the industry after Woody Guthrie’s Foundation had her label (Righteous Babe) release a CD featuring artists such as the Indigo Girls and Bruce Springsteen. The CD was to fundraise for Guthrie’s Foundation and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s education department. From that point on, Ani became a successful touring musician, reaching audiences globally and being featured on MTV and VH1. Throughout her career, she continued to discuss her sexuality and is known to be an activist for the LGBTQ+ community.
Ani DiFranco was one of the first women whose music was played on WBER. She is an entrepreneur, a female leader in a male-dominated industry, and a creative that has been able to successfully collaborate and inspire so many. Her enthusiastic nature, a strong sense of self, and of course influence in the Alternative music genre is notable and recognized. For these reasons, she is inducted into the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).
They Might Be Giants
The alternative Rock group, They Might Be Giants, from Brooklyn, NY started as just a duo in the 1980s but expanded to include a backing band in the 1990s. They brought a new sound to the genre of Alternative Rock, blending experimental but also humor into their creative works. Rolling Stone credited the group with being “vital to the creation of the prolific DIY scene.”
Known previously as El Grupo De Rock and Roll, the group has always been able to attract a diverse audience, starting with their misconception of Spanish music, to their extreme success in the modern rock and college audiences. Children’s music (yes you heard that right) has been lucrative for the group, allowing all three of their projects to be certified gold. They have also been certified platinum for their album “Flood.”
Their unique sound and DIY attitude fit well within the world of WBER. The group has a strong following and listenership. Beloved by WBER DJ, Vernicus Maximus, you can always count on them to be a part of his weekly show’s programming. They are inducted into the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).
The boy next door, literally! Chris Trapper is a Buffalo, NY native and his music and audience in Western New York are reflective of that. Known for both his solo career and his work with the band, The Push Stars.
After relocating to Boston, MA, Trapper began his work with The Push Stars. In 1999, the group signed with Capitol Records and released three albums. After the group’s hiatus in 2005, Chris began his solo career. This allowed for nine studio albums to be released and worldwide touring. In addition to the success of his solo career, Trapper is credited with his songs being in major motion pictures like “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Some Kind of Beautiful” and popular television shows, such as “Malcolm in the Middle” and “ER.” In 2018, his band reunited to release an album “3 Feet in the Air” in Memphis, TN.
Chris Trapper is a global star that is a local favorite and a WBER classic artist. His local roots aside, he is known for his nonstop tour schedule, which is an average of 150 shows a year and his countless in-station appearances. Most recently, Chris visited WBER in November 2020 which brought some much-needed cheer after an unsettling year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, he is inducted into the WBER Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class (2019).