Monday, January 26, 2009

Rock Hall needs an overhaul

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been fraught with controversy from the start.
But as each year passes and the list of prominent artists snubbed by the hall grows, it’s becoming painfully clear that the organization needs an overhaul.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation announced the 2009 inductees on Jan. 14. Of the five performer inductees, two are rock-solid choices: Jeff Beck and Metallica.
But the selection of rap group Run-D.M.C. is another pick made by the foundation for commercial reasons and to broaden the scope of the hall. It’s not just rock and roll now, it’s hip hop, funk, country, and pop music.
The other performer inductees – Bobby Womack and Little Anthony & the Imperials – are old-school picks from the 1950s and 1960s. Meanwhile, performers that were more popular or more influential continue to be overlooked. keeps a list of performers who get passed over for induction. Here are a few and their first year of eligibility: Boston (2001), Def Leppard (2004), Genesis (1993), Heart (2001), INXS (2005), Journey (2000), KISS (1999), Rush (1998), The Cars (2003), The Cure (2003), The Damned (2001) and Yes (1994).
I lost respect for the hall when it inducted Madonna last year. She’s a talented performer, known for dance and pop music, but definitely not rock and roll.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s nominating process has been widely criticized. The main criticism is that it’s controlled by a few people who are not even musicians, including Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner. Their personal biases have kept certain bands off the ballot, while accommodating friends and clients.
The hall needs to expand the voting process to include input from more musicians, especially those it has already voted into the hall of fame. wrote a good piece about the nominating process. The Wikipedia entry on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also covers the issue. has lots of fiery debates about the process and who should get in.
Reviewing the hundreds of performers and bands in its database, I noticed that one of my favorites – Concrete Blonde – was not listed. They’re eligible for consideration in 2011 and I hope they get their due. I’ve e-mailed FutureRockHall and hopefully they’ll correct the omission.

Photo: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Derek Jensen (Tysto).

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