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Let’s unpack this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and its bias against rock bands)

The Rock and Roll Hall Class of 2022 was announced at around 8 am Wednesday morning (May 4). There’s something for everyone this year, except for those who like rock bands. In fact, there’s a discussion that The Hall may have a bias against rock among its 1000+ official voters.

I mean, just look at this list of inductees. There’s not a single traditional-style rock band (guitars, bass, drums) anywhere on the list. In fact, that last time when no actual rock band was voted in was back in–wait for it–when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Band and Paul McCartney were the closest to that definition. Compare 2022 to last year when we at least had the Foo Fighters and the Go-Go’s. The year before, it was Nine Inch Nails and the Doobie Brothers.

Here are the acts getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 along with some comments/analysis/bitching from me.

Performers Category

Pat Benatar

Finally. She (along with partner/husband Neil Giraldo) made it through the voting after a couple of tries. Good call. Definitely rock, but she’s being recognized as a solo artist, not as a band. She finished third in the fan voting.

Duran Duran

A first-time nominee. Can’t really fault this choice. They also won the fan voting competition this year, for whatever that’s worth. They received the second-most votes from the fans. A band, yes, but they wouldn’t have been Duran Duran without synths. Close to being a traditional rock band, but not quite there.

Eminem

Another first-time nominee. People will kvetch that Em isn’t a rock artist, but The Hall has been insisting on expanding the definition of “rock and roll” for years. He received the second-most votes from the fans.

Eurythmics

Yep. Annie Lennox was a force back in the 80s and Dave Stewart continues to work as a performer and producer. They finished fourth in the fan voting.

Dolly Parton

Uh, okay. Whatever. Love Dolly as a person and performer, but I ask you this: Would Duran Duran be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame? Let’s remember that after the voting began, Dolly asked that her name be removed from the ballot. Last week, she had a change of heart and said she would accept any induction. She also finished fifth in the fan voting.

Carly Simon

She would never have been a pick for me–in my mind, she was a very decent 70s pop star. End of story. Fans gave her the seventh-most votes. She gets in on her first try. I can’t ever remember headbanging.

Lionel Ritchie

What? Well, I guess if Whitney Houston can be voted in… Ritchie finished eighth in the fan voting. How can anyone consider him more rock’n’roll than Rage? Or the MC5? Or the New York Dolls? The mind boggles.

Musical Excellence Award

Judas Priest

They’re in thanks to something called The Musical Excellence Award, which seems like there should be an asterisk next to their name. It’s not quite the same as being inducted in the Performers category, but whatever. (FYI: LL Cool J got in the same way.)

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis

Creators of a production company and recording studio that helped break hip-hop. They also made it in under The Musical Excellence Award.

Early Influence Awards

Harry Belafonte

He’s here for so many reasons, including his activism at a time when it was very difficult for a Black man to be an activist.

Elizabeth Cotten

A Black woman whose guitar playing influenced an uncountable number of guitarists.

Ahmet Ertegun Award

Allen Grubman

A founder of the Rock Hall and a lawyer for U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Madonna, Elton John, and many more.

Jimmy Iovine

Super producer and overall mover and shaker.

Sylvia Robinson

The late American singer, record producer, and record label executive. She was behind hits like “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang and “The Message” from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Finally, in the “Better Luck Next Year” Category

  • Devo (Rejected for the third time)
  • Kate Bush
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Dionne Warwick
  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • New York Dolls (Also rejected for the third time)
  • Beck
  • MC5 (Rejected on their FOURTH attempt in just six years)
  • Fela Kuti

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38308 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Let’s unpack this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and its bias against rock bands)

  • I agree with some of this, I have my favorites that did not make it. Devo and Kate Bush. However, I am glad that Duran Duran and Eurythmics made it in. I wonder if Dolly Parton will accept, considering she already declined. Seems like a wasted vote to me, even though she is our Lady and Saviour. I also wonder why they don’t host the event in Cleveland? Alan do you know? Is it hard to convince the Inductees to go there? Is LA easier?

    Reply
  • While not specifically ‘rock’ Kate Bush is deserving of induction to hall and should get in but I’m afraid what gets you into this particular institution is selling lots of records in the US market (clearly something Kate did not do). I grew up with country music in the 70’s and used to watch Dolly Parton on ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ every week. I have nothing but love and respect for Dolly but Kate is certainly closer to a ‘rock’ act than Dolly is. I’m happy about Duran Duran, Eurythmics and even Pat Benatar but there is no credibility to R&HoF until the MC5 and New York Dolls get in!

    Reply

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