Deserving bands are not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Doobie Brothers played at Lake Tahoe in 2014
Kurt Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2020 Inductees: Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T. Rex. Jon Landau and Irving Azoff are inducted as the Ahmet Ertegun Award Winners. 

Inductees are considered 25 years after their first album was released. Further details of the selection process have not been made public. It’s felt that individualism, breaking through with a style, being a trendsetter, early influencers, and of course major market leaders with chart-topping success are qualifications that are strongly considered.

That said, there are many bands left out that seem like they are more than worthy, and we’re celebrating the Hall’s 35th year. Keeping in mind that the definition of rock ‘n’ roll can be admittedly broad, there are artists such as Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna and Public Enemy that are voted in.

Not saying they aren’t successful or didn’t contribute to popular music, but the below list seems to stand out to me that there are some well-celebrated rockers who are on the outside looking in:  
Bad Company/Free/Paul Rodgers
Ozzy Osbourne
Judas Priest
Jethro Tull
George Thorogood
Grand Funk Railroad
The Black Crowes
Humble Pie

Others of note – Blue Oyster Cult, Billy Idol, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, America, Motley Crue, Pantera, Kansas, Foreigner, Foghat, Eddie Money, Boston, Thin Lizzy.

The Hall needs to get on the ball. Judas Priest and Motorhead are absolute hard rocking stalwarts with legendary frontmen and long careers. Free and particularly early Bad Company were a barnstorming gang of blues rockers with epic songs.

Steve Marriott (Humble Pie) is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? He could melt the walls with his vocals and play crushing guitar alongside Peter Frampton (and later Clem Clempson) with the best of ‘em. The Faces might be the coolest rock band ever.

Chris Cornell and Soundgarden aren’t recognized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as pioneers and vibe setters, but Bon Jovi is? Fleetwood Mac and Steve Nicks are both in as an example. And while Black Sabbath is in, no Ozzy? I know I’m a homer, but The Black Crowes’ first record is 5x platinum, and they were the biggest rock band in the world for a short stretch. Steppenwolf was pretty instrumental as 1960s psychedelic garage rockers.

There’s no conclusion. The Hall is going to do what it does. It’s all food for thought. I’m not much for awards myself. To me, you don’t win in music, and everybody else loses. Everybody can win. One person can be a die-hard fan of 10 bands, or more. I guess a final point would be that if the Hall is trying to make it exclusive and tough to get in, don’t go against the grain so much you are inducting pop stars and such that are a stretch to call “rock and rollers.” Keep it real. Or let everybody deserving in. Seems like a lot of legends are on the sidelines. 

— Jon Siembieda

About Jon Siembieda

Writer Jon Siembieda plays guitar in the Southern California-based touring rock 'n' roll band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He is an avid concertgoer and album collector. His top five favorite bands are The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Faces, Mother Hips and Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

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