Who deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? A reader weighs in.

It’s the annual silly season when it comes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations. Now that the nomination committee has put forth its list for the class of 2021, the debating, arguing, and bitching has begun.

The more fundamental arguments have appeared again. What’s the mandate of the Hall? How can [insert artist name here] be considered “rock and roll?” How political is this whole process? Why are fans not given more of a say? And so forth.

This email arrived from Raoul, a reader of this pages who has some serious issues with the entire operations of the RaRHoF. I present his arguments here.


I am having considerable difficulty with how some nominations to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in any manner fit into this category. First of all I have considerable difficulty defining some of these nominations as having anything to do with Rock N Roll. However, and even far more dumbfounding is how they ever would quality for any hall of fame what so ever. (Oh I know you already know where I am going, completely)

Allow me to transition to another passion of mine: basketball. The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame should have bands, or musicians whose basketball number is hung from the ceiling in the glory of outstanding achievement. It goes to such players as Michael Jordan, Kobi Bryant, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Isiah Thomas, Wilt Chamberlain, Dwayne Wade, Kareem, Patrick Ewing, etc. To be good or even very good like Pascal Siakem or Fred Van Vleet of the current Raptors is not good enough. The person on the bubble of such high acclaim would be Kyle Lowry.

So let’s water it down in the name of capitalism and say to get into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame you must obtain an 8.5 out of 10.

I am just going to randomly brainstorm bands that would be 8.6 or higher in no particular order. In my opinion, they deserve to be there. They are on my Hall of Fame team.

  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Who
  • U2
  • The Doors
  • The Band
  • The Beach Boys
  • Nirvana,
  • Metallica
  • Pearl Jam
  • The Clash
  • The Foo Fighters
  • The Sex Pistols
  • Patti Smith
  • Green Day
  • Oasis
  • Eurythmics
  • Evanescence,
  • The Cranberries
  • Beth Hart
  • The Cranberries
  • The Kinks
  • The Faces
  • Nightwish
  • The White Stripes
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • The Ramones
  • Tragically Hip
  • Joy Division
  • Dire Straits
  • Stone Roses
  • AC/DC
  • The Police
  • The Beatles
  • Radio Head
  • Tom Petty
  • Joan Jett
  • Chili Peppers
  • The Jam
  • XTC
  • The Pogues
  • The Pixies
  • Bob Marley
  • Toots and the Maytals
  • CCR
  • REM
  • David Bowie
  • Neil Young
  • Crosby Stills Nash and Young
  • Rush
  • ELO
  • Janis Joplin

Now here are my bands with the line in the sand. You should be at this level or higher.

  • Huey Lewis and the News
  • Gorillaz
  • The Cure
  • Talking Heads
  • Blondie
  • Madonna
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Steve Tyler
  • Pretenders
  • Madonna
  • Elvis Costello
  • Crowded House
  • Pink
  • The Matthew Good Band
  • The Damned
  • Miley Cyrus if she continues on her path
  • The Dave Clark 5
  • Our Lady of Peace
  • Alexis On Fire
  • Rammstein
  • Billy Idol
  • Public Image
  • The ‘Cult
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Sinead O’Connor
  • Cold Play
  • The Bay City Rollers
  • The Renegades
  • B52s?
  • The Weeknd
  • Prince
  • Eminem
  • Blink 182

Now we may discuss whether bands should be on the bubble or not….or even deserving of this opportunity.

The point I am trying to make is that such nominations are not even remotely close to this level of musical accomplishment, not only am I challenged to open up my umbrella to consider them a rock and roll band (and I really opened it quite far above), they are from my paradigm far, far too far away to even be contemplated.

Here is my challenge: Lift these three into my selections and show me the three you are bumping or taking out.

  • Devo
  • The Go Go’s
  • Chaka Khan

By the way, if you asked me to rate these bands honestly out of ten, the Go Go’s would get a 2.5 not based on musical talent at all (none of them can really play very well at all). Great “eye candy” though, and I would stay to see them.

Devo would get a 1 if they performed at the Edge [the old alt-rock club in Toronto] and I would have been long gone before their very first song ended. As far as the other Chaka Kahn band, they get a “0.” Zero. Zilch. I am gone as they come on stage.

I know exactly who they are even if I have never heard a note of theirs ever before. Their look reveals their rock and roll integrity totally. They do not have the rock and roll appearance, the right hair nor the hat. They do not carry their guitar like the Ramones, or Keith Richard or Prince like a symbolic sex organ. They do not have the hair like Ron Wood, Robert Smith, or Rod Stewart in the Faces, or Keith Richard emanating coolness with his scarf around his strewn hair. There is no dramatic entrance like the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” or the ballsy entrance of the Sex Pistols, or the anticipated energy of great excitement of the Ramones. There is no killer attitude that we are going to kick your ass tonight of The Jam or Pearl Jam or the Mods at the Danforth opening for the Police. Their body language, they couldn’t care less look, their complete lack of any rock and roll attitude and disposition tells me to get out of here right now before they even sound a note because you just know they will never ever strike any rock and roll chord. Get out of here right now. You can keep my door entrance fee. I am getting out of here and rushing to catch the set of Joe Jackson at the Horseshoe.

This is no longer The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but rather the Music Hall of Mediocrity. By allowing such bands into the Hall of Fame you are diminishing all those who shined and excelled and tarnishing the reputation of the Hall of Fame.

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.

28 thoughts on “Who deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? A reader weighs in.

  • February 16, 2021 at 8:29 am

    ok. Evanescence is in but Elvis Presley is not?

  • February 16, 2021 at 10:23 am

    For me, the Smashing Pumpkins don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Essentially they are a three album band (Gish, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) where they hit their highest accolades from fans and critics. As any person to name more albums, and I’m sure most will not know more than these three.

  • February 16, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    You lost me at Miley Cyrus. She has zero credibility as a rock singer (which I’m
    betting will ensure her induction).

  • February 16, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    What about the Guess Who

  • February 16, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Does anyone even take the rnrhof serious anyway? It always has been a joke and never about rnr!! Public enemy, NWA Gimme a break!!

  • February 17, 2021 at 2:14 am

    Carlos santnta , Donna summer

  • February 17, 2021 at 4:19 am

    Why is Phish not in the Hall of Fame??

  • February 17, 2021 at 8:59 am

    What about Motothead?

    • February 17, 2021 at 10:44 am

      The Rolling Stones are already in the Hall of Fame. My picks for the Hall of Fame are Steppenwolf, the Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Beau Brummells. Duran Duran, and Cher.

  • February 17, 2021 at 10:27 am

    OMGoodness, the Cranberries and Madonna twice? Where’s Led Zeppelin? Jimi Hendrix? You must write for Rolling Stone because you also omitted Queen?!

  • February 17, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Black Sabbath? Deep Purple? Motorhead? Iron Maiden?

  • February 17, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Duran Duran. Thet were trail blazers for the new wave movement

  • February 17, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for mentioning The Jam

  • February 17, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Judas Priest should be in the rrhf

  • February 17, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    Pat Benatar, B-52s, Eurythmics

  • February 17, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Pink Floyd? Hello, is there anyone out there?

  • February 17, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Pat Benatar, B-52s, Eurythmics!

  • February 17, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Dave Matthew’s Band, Weird Al Yankovic

  • February 17, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    The rock and roll hall of fame is like the walk of fame on Hollywood Blvd. Some of the people who have received stars there are very undeserving. They are both “jokes”.

  • February 17, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    The Walk of Fame is just as bad.

  • February 17, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    My list is pretty different:
    The Doobie Brothers
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    Led Zeppelin
    Pink Floyd
    Steely Dan
    Pat Metheny Group
    and many more

  • February 17, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Phish is the greatest touring band ever.No band can do what they do or what they have done with absolutely no commercial exposure what so ever.After 35 years in the
    biz they are still cranking out albums and tours.
    I have seen all the big boys of Rock and none compare.
    The hall of fame is a joke and the mere fact you have rappers in there shows it is a joke and I hope Phish is never a part of that museum.

  • February 18, 2021 at 12:48 am

    Kansas, Eagles, Elton John. Three Dog Night. Tommy James and the Shondells

  • February 18, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Guns N Roses? If you add Sinead OConnor I guess Nickelback should be there.


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