The Artists Still Waiting for Their Deserved Rock Hall Nods 

The snub club

click to enlarge cover_final_0415.jpg

Each year, a new crop of rock, hip-hop and pop acts becomes eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Next year, some of the bands that could be nominated for the first time include alt rockers such as Smashing Pumpkins and Hole as well as the Brit-pop icons Blur, grunge rockers Alice in Chains and pop singer Mariah Carey. But there are a number of quality acts that have yet to be inducted (and some of them have never even been nominated!). Here's a list of some of the bands that have been snubbed along with our take on why they should be inducted.

Big Star

Rock 'n' roll as we know it today wouldn't exist without Memphis misfits Big Star, an unselfconscious, folk- and twang-inflected pop band that inspired everyone from the Replacements and Wilco to R.E.M. and the Bangles. Keening harmonies, chiming riffs and lyrics infused by longing, loneliness and faint optimism made the band's music feel like the comforting shoulder of a good friend. Cult acts rarely get the credit to which they're entitled, but Big Star deserves every accolade they receive.

Cheap Trick

There are fewer bands cooler than the pride of Rockford, Illinois: Cheap Trick. Back in the day, the power-pop godfathers appealed to teenage hellraisers and wholesome suburban kids alike, thanks to Robin Zander's pitch-perfect voice and flowing locks, guitarist Rick Nielsen's riffs and flashy axes, and Bun E. Carlos' ferocious drumming. Today the band's songs (and Zander's voice) still sound as fresh as they did in the late '70s, making their Rock Hall exclusion all the more mystifying — and disappointing.


Chic found their greatest success as a disco act thanks to propulsive hits such as "Le Freak" and "Good Times." However, the group's bassline-first approach and emphasis on groove infiltrated countless other genres, from hip-hop ("Rapper's Delight" sampled "Good Times") to rock 'n' roll (Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" was reportedly inspired by the song). Plus, Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers became an influential producer who steered popular music in innovative directions; clients ranged from David Bowie and Madonna to the Honeydrippers and Duran Duran.


Their '70s output included songs like "25 or 6 to 4" and "Saturday in the Park," and the innovative guitar playing of Terry Kath, whose career was tragically cut short at 31 with a 1978 gun accident. The "rock 'n' roll band with horns" sent those same horns out on lunch break for most of the '80s, collaborating with David Foster on a string of hits that sent the group in a ballad-heavy direction that built off of the success of similarly light '70s tracks like "If You Leave Me Now." Admittedly, group members themselves were well-aware that they were never critic's favorites, with Lamm penning "Critic's Choice" in the mid-'70s as a lyrical response to the group's detractors. You can also wonder if their '80s legacy will permanently overshadow their '70s accomplishments and keep them out. Either way, with nearly a half century of work in the books, you can bet that Chicago isn't losing sleep over the snub.

Joe Cocker

It's a real shame that the gravelly voiced Cocker couldn't get his moment on the Hall of Fame stage prior to his passing last December after a battle with cancer. Eligible since 1994, Cocker was a masterful interpreter of songs that had been written by others, and the fact that he didn't write them probably figures heavily into his continued exclusion. He put a huge amount of effort and passion into his performances, something that was famously parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, and if you saw him perform, it was evident that no matter who wrote the songs, he certainly wasn't coasting on the compositional work done by others.

The Cure

These British Goth rockers will probably never get inducted (they've only been nominated once) but they've got the catalog to merit inclusion. Formed in the wake of the punk explosion, the band still had that edge but it harnessed pop sensibilities in radio hits such as "Boys Don't Cry," "Just Like Heaven" and "Lovesong." There's a reason these songs still find their way onto movie soundtracks — they capture the restlessness of youth in a way that few other songs do and they have great hooks too.

Deep Purple

Media personality Eddie Trunk has been banging a very loud drum in recent years over artists who continue to get snubbed by the Rock Hall. When Metallica was inducted in 2009, singer James Hetfield borrowed elements of Trunk's list during his induction speech, calling for Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Ted Nugent and others to be inducted. Since then, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has acknowledged that he's part of a group of individuals working to get the English hard rockers, famous for the classic rock staple "Smoke on the Water," into the Hall. Frontman Ian Gillan couldn't care less, saying that the Hall voters "don't quite understand what we are" and, as he notes, "Who the hell wants to be in an institution anyway?" Nominated in 2013 and 2014, Deep Purple seems very likely to get an eventual nod.

De La Soul

Someone oughta represent the influential Native Tongues movement that took hold in New York in the late '80s and early '90s and found rap groups opting for a more positive portrayal of black culture. Rappers such as Mos Def were clearly influenced by the movement. So it might as well be De La Soul. The forward-thinking hip-hop act had only one outstanding album — 1989's Three Feet High and Rising, which just happened to be its debut — but the group's clever use of jazzy samples and skits made it into one of hip-hop's most distinctive acts. Producer Prince Paul deserves some of the credit; he went on to produce a slew of rap acts and issue a handful of solo efforts. If the group is inducted, it better invite him to the ceremony.

Electric Light Orchestra

ELO majordomo Jeff Lynne hobnobbed with Bob Dylan in the Traveling Wilburys and co-produced albums for Tom Petty, Joe Walsh and every member of the Beatles but John Lennon. That the music he created and produced with Electric Light Orchestra doesn't receive the same sort of respect as these icons is perplexing. Complex harmonies and arrangements — and hooks for days — make "Do Ya," "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Evil Woman" pop music staples, while his disco fusions are underrated. Hopefully Lynne's contributions to the Xanadu soundtrack aren't being held against him.

Comments (32)

Showing 1-25 of 32

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 32

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Howie Mandel @ Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park

    • Sun., Oct. 23
  • Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club @ Lakewood Civic Auditorium

    • Sun., Oct. 23
  • At the Movies — Nosferatu @ Severance Hall

    • Tue., Oct. 25

© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation