The 23rd annual induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is coming up, and with it comes the annual bitchfest by music fans and critics as to which bands deserve to get in and which do not. The general public has no say in the nomination or induction process; instead, an anonymous committee chooses the nominations, which are then voted on by an equally anonymous group of 500 "rock experts." Bands are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Usually there's little controversy when it comes to the artists chosen for induction, with the real debates circling around those artists who have yet to be recognized by the Hall of Fame.
The Hall has its prejudices when it comes to selecting those worthy enough for induction. Heavy metal, punk and prog rock have a hard time getting in, while anyone with an obvious blues or country influence seems to be a shoe-in. It also helps to be American or British; no artists from mainland Europe, Africa, South America or Asia have been inducted yet.
With that in mind, Bullz-Eye has selected 10 artists, listed in chronological order of their eligibility, that we feel have been given the shaft by the Hall. These are by no means the 10 "best" artists who have failed to be inducted; just 10 "of the best" who have not yet gotten their due.
Eligible since: 1988
The Beach Boys had their harmonies, the Kinks their songwriting, the Who harbored propulsion. But the Hollies boasted all of that and more, and they continue to rank as one of the most proficient pop bands of their era, and, for that matter, all time. Although often underappreciated – especially by those who dismissed them as a mere singles outfit – they proffered album sides that were easily the equal of the songs that allowed them to top the charts. It was their blend of voices that caught immediate attention, but beneath the vocal weave of Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks (and later, Terry Sylvester), they could claim a durable rhythm section in drummer Bobby Elliot and bassist Bernie Calvert. In fact, their concise, compelling melodies and exacting, imaginative arrangements rivaled the Beatles at their best. The band's most prolific period extended from the early '60s well into the '70s, but even when the hits dried up, the band soldiered on and made music that still sounds every bit as effusive and exuberant today as it did when the Hollies were at their heights. –Lee Zimmerman
Eligible since: 1994
The Stooges self-titled debut came out in 1969 and it's hard to imagine just how abrasive and loud the Stooges must have sounded to audiences at the time. Try putting them in context: the biggest albums of that year were Abbey Road, Blood, Sweat & Tears' self-titled record that had the hit "Spinning Wheel" and the original cast recording of "Hair." One of the biggest singles was "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies. Contrast that with "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and a sense of just how far ahead of the times they were begins to develop. They were so much of an influence on punk rock that they were retroactively dubbed "proto punk" by the media years later, no doubt because of their stripped down, abrasive, feedback-laden sound that lived on to influence acts as diverse as Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Guns n' Roses and the White Stripes. The Stooges were one of the architects of modern rock music, and their continued exclusion into the Hall is mind-boggling. They were expected to finally get in this year, but instead the Hall decided to that Jeff Beck needed to get in for the second time (he was also inducted as part of the Yardbirds). Still, of all the bands on this list, the Stooges probably have the best shot at making it in at some point. –James Eldred
Eligible since: 1995
In terms of worldwide influence, the only bands who have done more than Kraftwerk to advance the sound of modern music are maybe the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and that's a big maybe. While a few others came before them, Kraftwerk was the first band to take electronic music out of the realm of novelty and into critical and popular acclaim. Kraftwerk did something that almost no one before them did, and that's create something wholly original, seemingly drawing inspiration from no one other than themselves. It's impossible to trace their influence to individual bands, entire genres owe their creation to Kraftwerk; rap, disco, house music, synthpop, punk, new wave, indie rock, the musical landscape has been shaped by Kraftwerk in so many ways that it's hard to comprehend it without the help of a flowchart. Many cite the "they're not rock music" argument when discussing acts like Kraftwerk, but that argument holds little water, since funk, rap and jazz acts gain entry to the Hall with regularity. The Hall's refusal to recognize electronic music begins with their refusal to recognize Kraftwerk, and there's no excuse for it. It's flat-out wrong and it needs to be addressed if they want to maintain any sense of credibility as the years go on. –JE
Eligible since: 1998
Suggesting any disco band for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is tough call. Disco was nearly responsible for the death of rock, after all. But ABBA is a band so popular, so big, so freaking massive that they really transcend their genre. Their sales achievements are staggering; over 370 million records sold, over a dozen hit singles, one of the best-selling greatest hits compilations of all time, a hit musical (that was later turned into a hit movie), the list is seemingly endless. Disco isn't a stranger to the Hall; the Bee Gees were inducted in 1997, and their contribution to both disco and music as a whole is arguably less than the Swedish powerhouse. The Bees Gees career was one of ups and downs, but ABBA hit the ground running and when they split in 1982, they were still the biggest act in disco and arguably the biggest act in the world. If they got back together tomorrow, they'd have a sold-out stadium tour by the end of the week. As far as influence goes, ABBA's reach on modern music may not be incredibly obvious, but it's a safe bet that dance music owes a great deal to ABBA's unending supply of melodies, near-perfect harmonies and instantly memorable hooks. –JE
Eligible since: 1999
We are loath to use album sales as a measure of a band's true worth, but it's worth noting that Rush's first 16 studio albums, spanning 22 years, have sold a minimum of 500,000 copies each. The only band with a longer gold-or-better sales streak is the Stones. Aerosmith is just behind Rush, with 14 straight gold-or-better albums, and U2 will probably get there if the band doesn't kill Bono first. Fittingly, Aerosmith, U2 and the Stones are all in the Hall; Rush, however, are not, and their exclusion can be boiled down to three words: critics hate prog. The band, of course, gave up their more excessive prog tendencies 30 years ago (though they kept the irregular time signatures for when they're feeling frisky), and evolved from their admittedly inauspicious stoner-rock debut into one of the most muscular, experimental and consistent groups of the rock era. They even managed to maintain a strong presence on MTV at a time when their rock peers were being shipped off to the video vault in the sky. Most importantly, as evidenced on their 2007 album Snakes and Arrows, they can still play, refusing to let time diminish their considerable skills. The Rock Hall voters' refusal to acknowledge Rush's enduring popularity, not to mention their ever-growing influence on younger bands, isn't just unfair; it's lazy. –David Medsker
Eligible since: 2000
Journey are a people's band, always have been. Never critically loved in the least, they've maintained a substantial following over the years, even after Steve Perry bolted in the '90s. "Don't Stop Believin'" is a cultural landmark, and "Faithfully," "Open Arms" and "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" have soft-rocked their way into the hearts of millions. Sure they may be nothing more than corporate arena rock engineered for mass appeal, but so were the Eagles, and they got in. If nothing else, the Hall's continued snubbery of Journey is proof of their snobbery; they simply don't want a band as pop and populist as Journey. If that wasn't enough, Journey also has the curse of the revolving line-up. Who would the hall induct? While Journey is mostly known for their late-70s/early-80s arena rock output with Steve Perry, the group has been around since the early '70s (they actually started as Santana's backup band) and over a dozen people have come and gone since then. But if the Hall can get around the rotating line-ups of groups like Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders and the giant clusterfunk that is Parliament-Funkadelic, then they should be able to figure this out. It's a long shot, but fans of the group should never stop believing, as Journey's reputation and credibility only seems to be growing in recent years. –JE
Eligible since: 2002
There is a great joke about a metal head, a punker and a power pop fan at what would now be their 25-year high school reunion, talking about how much they love Cheap Trick's "Surrender" (go here if you'd like to read the joke in full). The punch line – which is naturally at the expense of the power pop fan – is almost beside the point; the reason the joke exists is because there are fewer bands with broader appeal than what Cheap Trick possessed at the height of their powers. Seriously, is there another band alive that could count jocks, punkers, dorks and screaming teenage girls in their fan base? We think not, and we'll go one better: Cheap Trick arguably launched more bands than the Beatles. The entire power pop scene of the mid to late '90s has more in common with Cheap Trick's first four albums than anything in the Beatles' catalog, and bands from Smashing Pumpkins to Weezer to Fountains of Wayne have stolen from Cheap Trick's playbook. Their singer has one of the all-time great voices in rock, their drummer makes a three-piece set sound positively huge, and their guitarist was a pioneer in custom guitar design and nerd chic. Oh, and they can still kick your ass in concert. It mystifies us that the Hall doesn't want to want them. –DM
Eligible since: 2002
Motorhead has done a lot more in their 30-year-plus career than prove that you don't need a singer that can actually sing. They invented a genre (speed metal), released quite possibly the greatest heavy metal song of all time ("Ace of Spades"), and inspired some of the greatest bands of all time, including 2009 Rock Hall inductees Metallica. And unlike many other heavy metal bands, Motorhead has served as inspiration to a variety of bands in a variety of genres. Sure, they may have paved the way for Anthrax and their thrash metal ilk, but Motorhead's influence can be heard in punk music of the '80s and '90s, alternative rock groups such as Queens of the Stone Age and even in electronic and new wave music (industrial music is basically thrash metal with keyboards). The Hall hates metal, for some reason – it even took them 11 years to get off their asses and induct Black Sabbath. And if Ozzy and company can barely squeak into the Hall of Fame, an underground act like Motorhead doesn't have a prayer. Pity. –JE
Eligible since: 2005
Motorhead was one end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, abrasive and mean as all hell. Def Leppard is firmly on the other side, as pop-friendly and accessible as possible. But let's get one thing straight: Def Leppard wasn't just another '80s metal band. They were the '80s metal band. Hysteria is the best-selling rock album of that decade, selling over 20 million copies worldwide and spawning an unheard-of seven hit singles. That's more than most bands have in their career. For further proof that Def Leppard is a band with rare company, check this stat: Def Leppard are one of only five rock bands to have two studio albums that have sold over 10 million copies each in the US. Who are the other four? The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen. But unlike those other bands, Def Leppard's legacy is largely ignored, since people usually judge them alongside the many inferior bands that followed in their wake. But you shouldn't judge a group because of its soundalikes – if you did, Pearl Jam would be forever exiled because of Creed. Sadly, the Hall doesn't look too brightly at metal, no matter how polished and glossy it is. –JE
The Dead Kennedys
Eligible since: 2005
Is there room for Jello in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Every other notable act from the first wave of punk rock, the Clash, the Ramones and the Sex Pisotls, has been inducted by now. But the Dead Kennedys haven't been as much as nominated and it's arguable that Dead Kennedys were even more influential than their early punk rock counterparts. The Ramones practically invented punk, and while the Clash brought political ideas into punk and the Sex Pistols attitude, the Dead Kennedys combined both to create snotty, rage-filled anthems detailing left-wing political ideologies and overall dissent with modern life. Revolutionary concepts hadn't been that fun since the Boston Tea Party, and every band with a chip on its shoulder and revolution delusions can be traced back to The Dead Kennedys. Ironically enough, while the band's views of world politics made them legends, the internal politics between them now may be what's blocking their induction. Jello Biafra and the rest of the group don't get along in the least, with lawsuits and replacement lead singers clouding the band's legacy over the past decade or so. That, combined with Biafra's notorious distaste for nostalgia, pretty much assure that he would take no part in the induction ceremony, and the Hall probably doesn't want another Sex Pistols incident on their hands. –JE
A final thought
Let's just be honest: the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is really nothing more than a popularity contest, with the winners being chosen by an increasingly out-of-touch panel of "rock experts." Popularity of a band can be measured in sales, but how can someone measure talent, or influence? The voters seem to have a set definition of both, and that definition excludes most of the greatest and most influential bands of multiple generations.