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The Irrelevance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Earlier this week, the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class 2012 were announced. The theme of this year’s crop seems to lean toward that of pioneers. Heart, Joan Jett, The Cure, and Eric B & Rakim have all been nominated for the first time, while the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers have received second-time bids to be inducted. It could be debated that all of them were pioneers in their field.

The strange thing is, no one’s really debating anything this year. It is usually the case that when nominees are announced, debate is heavy on who should be nominated and isn’t, or who out of the current crop should be inducted over the others. There is a smattering of the above debates going on, but it seems that, this year, the list of nominees was met with a resounding shrug.

How did it come to be that what has always been such a polarizing topic among pop culture enthusiasts is now met with the greatest of apathy? There are many names that legions of fans say each year should be members of the Hall already, but it always seems that fan favorites are perennially passed over in favor of…what, exactly?


Many would argue that those in charge in voting, mainly industry performers and insiders, are often overruled by the man largely seen as being in charge of the Hall – Rolling Stone magazine’s Jann Wenner. Many times, the nominees and inductees are seen as being allowed in by his own personal tastes. There have been several reports of Wenner’s preferential treatment, the most recent happening earlier this year.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website had a poll as to who should be inducted in to the Hall. It was an open poll, with fans and site visitors allowed to participate in the voting.

The poll was only up for a few hours. At the time it was taken down, Rush was in second place with over 600 votes. In first place were the Monkees, with over 11,000 votes.

Wenner has been seen as having a grudge against the idea of the Monkees being inducted despite their accomplishments. Band member Peter Tork addressed the matter with the New York Post in 2007, stating that Wenner “doesn’t care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don’t know whether the Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not in there because of a personal whim. Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, ‘What’s the big deal? Everybody else does it.'[does not play their own instruments] Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007.”

Another band that has been passed over time and time again is Kiss. Their influence on many modern bands in many genres is evident. Their sales figures dwarf many who have already been inducted. Despite the protests of fans year after year, Kiss seems destined never to enter the Hall.

Numerous other acts have been passed over that tower over many other nominees and inductees. Rush has a grand total of 24 gold and 14 platinum records and have sold 40 million units worldwide. Yet, the Hall has no time for them nor many others. The list is endless of acts that could and, depending on which fan you talk to, should have been inducted by now.

Maybe that’s the issue. After so many years of the public seeing a slew of deserving acts passed over for whatever Jann Wenner thinks is relevant at the moment or whatever may be stuck in his iPod, the public may simply no longer care about the Hall.


The inclusion of any given act is not measured by personal tastes, but by the accomplishments they have achieved during their careers. The Hall of Fame, however, seems to operate in reverse of those very criteria.

Because of that backwards thinking, it feels as though the least relevant aspect of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is, in fact, the Hall of Fame. With so many deserving acts passed over year after year, the public seems disinterested in the Hall of Fame in any way, shape, or form. All of those years of deciding for themselves who is relevant and who is not may have rendered the Hall itself impotent, as people have lost any feeling for who’s in the Hall anymore.

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About Michael Melchor

Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com.
  • Mitch T,

    Jan and Dean should have been in before Jan’s death…The Hall of Fame is a Hall of Shame and a stupid joke now as too many of the more popular current acts are put in over acts that were more deserving but have faded (Isn’t that what it was made for to keep those acts from being forgotten?)

  • Here are the top 25 vote-getters (year 2011) on the “Deserving of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” list.

    The 2012 nominees for the R&R HoF are (# indicates where they were on my list at the time of their nomination): Red Hot Chili Peppers (#19), Guns n’ Roses (#25), Joan Jett (#60), The Beastie Boys (#168), Heart (#12), Freddie King (#181), Laura Nyro (#191), Rufus with Chaka Khan (#421), Donna Summer (#212), The Faces/Small Faces (#232), The Spinners (#82), Donovan (#30), The Cure (#43), Eric B. & Rakim (#949), War (#64)

    1) Rush

    2) Chicago

    3) Yes

    4) Deep Purple

    5) Doobie Brothers

    6) Moody Blues

    7) Dire Straits

    8) The Cars

    9) Electric Light Orchestra

    10) Jethro Tull

    11) Pete Townshend (solo)

    12) Heart

    13) Journey

    14) Steve Miller

    15) Carole King

    16) Styx

    17) Kiss

    18) Peter Gabriel (solo)

    19) Red Hot Chili Peppers

    20) Squeeze

    21) Stevie Ray Vaughan

    22) Jim Croce

    23) The Guess Who

    24) Foreigner

    25) Guns N’ Roses

  • zingzing

    correct me if i’m wrong, el b, but aren’t those all british bands? my theory is perfect.

  • “When Nirvana and Pearl Jam and their ilk go in they’ll have to go back and put in all the bands that made that possible.”

    Considering Motorhead,Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden haven’t been added since Metallica’s induction, not sure what you base that statement on, Doug.

  • The Replacements, Kiss, Rush, The Smiths, it goes on and on. When Nirvana and Pearl Jam and their ilk go in they’ll have to go back and put in all the bands that made that possible.

  • zingzing

    i like the monkees. i like eric b and rakim better. joan jett was my favorite when i was 3. the cure was my favorite when i was 12.

    the rnr hof is kind of stupid. and jann wenner is a douche… and his idea of “integrity” is laughable. (although i do like some of the politics articles in rolling stone.)

    the hall is also rather slanted towards america, which is understandable, but still not quite right. you’ll see a lot of (still worthy, but) short-lived artists that got in there on the strength of a few singles and american popular sentiment.

    and the place is obviously run by a bunch of old fogies.

  • JettBlue

    i liked reading your article….i think maybe people aren’t contesting the nominees because this group is a really good group of nominees..I’m especially pleased to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts being nominated…Joan Jett definately belongs in the Hall.

  • I’d put the Monkees in. They are a good representative of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’60s.

  • Paul Revere And The Raiders.

  • Tref

    Amen! The Monkees made (and played on) some of the best music of the 1960s and their film, Head, continues to find a new audience with each new generation. Even a vote for music video and country/rock pioneer Nesmith, is overdue.

  • Well, you are rehashing old ideas. There is a lot of chatter about this year’s nominees. Use Google to look for it.
    You also forgot to mention that Kiss were nominated in 2009. Maybe they didn’t get many votes? Critics never much liked them, and fellow Hall of Fame artists (who get to vote) probably didn’t vote for them either.
    When writing an article like this, and saying that many relevant acts are passed over, it would be nice to say which ones (and think harder than Rush and Kiss, who are everyone’s picks for passed over names).
    Dig deeper.