The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has recently inducted the latest handful of musicians for 2015: Green Day, Lou Reed, Bill Withers, Ringo Starr, and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts; to name a few.
But who decides who is worthy of the honor, year after year? And why have so many dignified, influential artists gone unrecognized?—for example: Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Ronnie James Dio, Jethro Tull, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Yes, Bad Company, Motorhead, Warren Zevon, The Cure, Depeche Mode… The list could continue by the hundreds![x_pullquote cite=”Steven Adler” type=”left”]”It’s a brilliant institution that etches in stone a great band’s contribution to their body of works.” [/x_pullquote]
Not to mention—in a society sensitive to the equality of women—is there a reason why prestigious female stars in the history of rock stand ready and worthy to share the crown only to be greeted by what seems to be a turned cheek? Joan Baez, Siouxsie Sioux, Nina Simone, Betty Davis, Cher, Cyndi Lauper, and Kate Bush, for instance, have each been eligible for nomination for more than a decade.
Even with tough rock feminist Joan Jett’s 2015 induction, women are still a scarcity in the Hall Of Fame. It’s a popular topic of discussion every November in the music world when the names considered for the following years’ induction are announced.
Jett is quoted as saying, “There should be more women in the Hall of Fame, and more women in rock. They’re out there… .”
Taking a look back through history, we have to not only consider why the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame was founded, but who it was founded by, and what the induction process consists of.
Established in the spring of 1983 by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation aimed to celebrate select musicians that contributed to defining and sustaining an evolution of music considered raw and truthful to so many.
Among the team with Ertegun who organized the foundation were two attorneys, Suzan Evans and Allen Grubman; record
executives Seymour Stein, Noreen Woods, and Bob Krasnow; as well as editor and publisher Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone.
While it would be another 12 years before the foundation would find a home on the shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH (the city in which the term rock ‘n’ roll originated by disc jockey Alan Freed) musicians, engineers, and producers began to be inducted in 1986.
And with a crew of credible rock industry veterans behind the induction process, one would imagine they might understand the importance of giving credit where credit is due.
And, yet, it’s possible we are looking into this too much.
As stated by the Hall of Fame on their website, regarding the induction process, “Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.” Fair enough, yet they go on to state that “…musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”
But, without taking any heed to statistics, who is to say how this process earns credibility, other than through the founders of this alleged criteria? Isn’t “musical excellence” subjective given that not everyone has the same taste in style and performance, even when technical showmanship is widely hailed?
It seems that these questions will remain officially unanswered, especially with conflicting opinions abound.
Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler says about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, “It’s a brilliant institution that etches in stone a great band’s contribution to their body of works.”
And in 2006, when Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, frontman Johnny Rotten wrote on the band’s website: “Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain… We’re not your monkeys, we’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.”
Perhaps the most notorious public word against the exclusive offer presented itself in 2006, when Ozzy Osbourne wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame. “Just take our name off the list,” he wrote. “Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite for the industry and the Media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is irrelevant to me. Let’s face it, Black Sabbath has never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band and that suits us just fine.”
However, in consideration of the band as a whole, Osbourne quickly had a change of heart and attended the induction ceremony with the rest of his bandmates.
While there are many lingering questions about the value of the offer to be recognized and archived in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, as well as the swarming suspicions as to why the induction process criteria is both contradicting and subjectively stated, we settle upon the easiest conclusion — our questions may never be answered, but to be chosen can be considered an honor. As long as it is seen that way.
Story: Kate Catalina
Photos: Getty. Mike Coppola