It seemed like a good name and idea when the first class was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986. But, the trend of popular music was already moving away from Rock. So the Rock & Roll Hall of fame board decided to put in artists who certainly didn’t belong in the “Rock & Roll” music category. It became obvious that a better name would have been the Rock & Pop Hall Of Fame. Country music has it’s own Hall Of Fame, so Rock & Pop would cover most of the rest.
It takes 25 years after an artist’s first chart success for them to become eligible to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Once 1980’s artists became eligible, big Pop stars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Rap artists took the place of the rapidly declining number of Rock performers. There’s been a lot of ongoing controversy over who gets in, and who doesn’t. A lot of that has to do with the acts not fitting in with the limiting name.
Another big problem is how women have been slighted.
Linda Ronstadt was the first woman to sell out arenas, and to consistently release Platinum albums. Some of her songs rocked as hard as many of the bands in the ‘70’s. The minute she became eligible for the Hall Of Fame, she should have been voted in. Instead, it took 20 years! Maybe it was because she no longer looked like “The Queen of Rock & Roll” as she was called by Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970’s. The Queen of Soul, the King of Pop, and the Donna of Disco were all inducted before the Queen of Rock & Roll.
Compare Ronstadt’s massive trailblazing success to male artists who got into the hall long ago. Some had only one really significant hit…Del Shannon with “Runaway” (#1) and Eddie Cochran with “Summertime Blues” (#8)…and they were quickly added to the hall. They’re great, but their impact was significantly less than artists like Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Carole King, and Pat Benatar.
Maybe since Linda Ronstadt wasn’t a songwriter, it hurt her chances, but if that was a requirement, Elvis Presley wouldn’t have made it. Major songwriter Carole King was finally voted in last year. Her extremely influential album Tapestry towers over contributions from some of the other artists who’ve been in the hall for decades.
This year, Carly Simon and Pat Benatar are nominated. It could be argued that Carly Simon isn’t “Rock & Roll”, but neither is Whitney Houston or a large potion of the other members. Pat Benatar certainly had a number of Rock hits. Her songs “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” were even considered on the hard side of Rock & Roll when they first came out. It’s a puzzle why she didn’t get in much earlier.
Another woman is also nominated this year…Dolly Parton. She’s a beloved force of nature, and will very likely be voted in, but she’s pure Country. Another Country artist, Johnny Cash, was placed in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 30 years ago, but of course he’s a guy. Update: Dolly Parton “respectfully” declined to be considered for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. She says she doesn’t want to divide any votes, and she knows she isn’t a Rock & Roll artist…which you’d think the nominating committee would know too. Unfortunately, the ballots had already gone out.
Update 2: Pop singer Dionne Warwick is also inexplicably nominated this year, and doesn’t think she should be. She knows her style of music is far removed from Rock & Roll. She said she might be interested if they changed the name to something like The Music Hall Of Fame.
Since they’re including Rock, Pop, Disco, R&B, Rap, Country, and nearly all forms of music…they need a better name and a bigger museum.
The results: So who got in? Pat Benatar, Carly Simon, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Eminem, and although they didn’t get in through voting, the band Judas Priest was appointed as an inductee by the board. Not exactly a Rock & Roll class…but some Pop artists who deserved to be recognized anyway.