From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Rock Hall of Fame Rant

(Original in 2016, updated June 13, 2019.  See end for updates.)

So the annual inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have come and gone, and so with it my annual ranting about who got left out.  It may come as a shock (shock!!!) to many of you, but yours truly is a rock and roll aficionado from w-a-a-a-a-ay back.  I was a radio DJ back in high school, college, and even briefly after college, and continue to spend an inordinate amount of time and money on music.

That said, there are plenty of detractors of the Rock Hall, me being one of them.  It’s overly “US-Centric” and heavily influenced by certain producers and managers.  As a result, some artists without the money or the publicity machine may not make it into the Hall, and instead some questionable decisions seem to be made.  Frankly, it makes sports halls of fame look downright honorable.  Google “rock hall omission” and you’ll get plenty of blogs, some of which run into the hundreds of omissions.  I’ll admit that a lot of the so-called omissions are simply really popular bands who probably will never make it, ranging from the Monkees to Procol Harem — definitely groups that should be in anyone’s music collection, but probably not acts that changed the rock paradigm in the way a true Hall of Famer would have.  I’ll admit that in recent years, the Hall has been picking up some wayward omissions over the years.  2014’s induction of Linda Ronstadt was TWENTY YEARS overdue, and this year’s inclusions of Chicago and Steve Miller made up for two long-time, terrific oversights.  That said, there are still some real game-changers among rock and roll acts that, for whatever reason, haven’t had their day in the Cleveland sun yet.  Here are my humble suggestions for the 10 most egregious oversights.  Feel free to disagree!

10.  Jethro Tull — Ian Anderson’s flute-based homage to baroque music was more than just a cute twist on rock music.  Aqualung, Locomotive Breath, and Think as a Brick are all classic rock cuts, and they really moved the needle on progressive rock in its early days (1969 — when progressive rock was barely an infant).  Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame seems myopic regarding non-US acts, and Jethro Tull may have to wait a while until the needy American bands are all picked up.

9.  Moody Blues — Ditto.  Note that 10 and 9 are both British bands that featured flutes.  Hmmmm… That said, the rock hall tends to favor the starting line-up for inductee-bands, but the Moodies really didn’t hit their stride until Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined the band.  Of course, that didn’t stop the Hall from inducting Fleetwood Mac, which was nothing but a drummer and a bass player until their new guitarist demanded that his girlfriend be hired as a front-woman singer.

8.  Chubby Checker — Seriously????  The singer who gave us the Twist isn’t in the Rock Hall of Fame????

7.  Tina Turner — MASSIVE ditto.  Plus, Tina made it twice — first as the lead signer for Ike Turner’s band, and then as one of the hardest working acts in showbiz.  Add to that the notable lack of women in the Hall (not a single woman was inducted this year!) and Tina’s absence is all the more striking.  (As a dis-honorable mention, I’ll note that Marvin Gaye was inducted in 1987, but his partner Tammy Terrell has yet to get a nod.)

6.  Sarah McLachlan — It almost comes as a surprise that she’s already eligible (25 years since the first record), and even if she wasn’t a ground-breaking singer and songwriter, her creation of Lilith Faire should have put her in on her first eligibility.  Go figure…

5.  Jimmy Buffett — Yes, amazingly, Saint Jimmy is NOT in the Hall!!!  Anyone who can blend Calypso, Country, and Rock for 50 years (yes, that long!) should have been in the Hall a long time ago.  Jimmy has single handedly created the genre of “Jimmy Buffett Music”.

4.  The Commodores and/or Lionel Richie — Yeah.  I was surprised, too.  Shocked may be the better word for it.

Now, we get into my top 3.  These omissions simply boggle the mind.

3.   Whitney Houston — Continuing to note the absence of female performers in the Hall, Whitney is the ONLY artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, and “I will Always Love You” is the best-selling single by a female artist in music history.  The soundtrack to The Bodyguard is the 4th best-selling album of all time (behind Michael Jackson, AC/DC, and Pink Floyd, all of whom are in the Hall).  Add to it — and this is amazing — her soundtrack to The Preacher’s Wife is the best-selling GOSPEL album of all time.  Again… go figure…

2.  Doobie Brothers — My personal favorite act of all times.  Their eventual induction ought to be a given — they are on nearly everyone’s “WTF” omission list.  One of the biggest problems the Hall will have is picking exactly WHICH members of the Doobies get to receive the award — there have been nearly 100 Doobies over the years.  This was a problem with Chicago — the original 7 from the first few albums got inducted, but none of the band-members who joined after Terry Kath died and Peter Cetera left.  (By the way — wasn’t Cetera a jerk for not showing up????).  Anyway, it would be hard to argue that founders Tom Johnson, Patrick Simmons, Dave Shogren, and John Hartman don’t belong on the stage, plus Michael Hossack, Skunk Baxter, Tiran Porter, Keith Knudsen, John McFee, and of course Michael McDonald.  That group, plus a few others, would pretty much cover everyone up thru their 1982 disbanding, and all of that crowd should be on the stage sometime soon.

1.  Steppenwolf — “Born to be Wild” gave the phrase “Heavy Metal” to the rock lexicon.  The string of hits that came out of this pivotal band are almost too numerous to mention.  They were the core of the soundtrack to “Easy Rider” and while they were never as popular as other groups of the time, they did produce 6 gold and one platinum album.  It’s hard to turn on a classic rock station anytime in the past 40 years and not year “Magic Carpet Ride”, “Born to be Wild”,  or “Rock Me”.  Their famous cautionary tale from 1969’s album Monster still rings true today (go listen to it — it’s haunting and damned good rock and roll).

There are plenty who could be added to this list, but these are my top-10 severe omissions. We’ll see if the Hall is listening.


OK, this is in severe need up updating.  Thanks to constant complaining by the likes of your blog host, a few of these massive oversights have been rectified in the past three years.  First, while Steppenwolf didn’t make it in, the RHOF created a new category for songs, and quite properly inducted “Rocket 88” by Jackie Breston and his Delta Cats (1951), Link Wray and his Ray Men’s “Rumble” (1958), “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen (1963), Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967) and Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” (1968).  I concur with these choices, although I’d like to see more!

Next, the grave oversight of Moody Blues was corrected with the 2018 class.  Speaking of the 2018 class, I have to give the RHOF a shout-out for Bon Jovi.  I never really thought they had a chance — too commercial, ya know?  Indeed, neither did Jon Bon Jovi.  Indeed, that was one of the problems those of us who lobbied so hard for Chicago in 2016 had to overcome.

Finally, if you saw 2017’s induction of Pearl Jam, you might have noticed that David Letterman (!) giving the induction speech, called out Warren Zevon as an ‘overlooked’ icon of the music industry.  Zevon is #2 on my “probably won’t get in” list (see Rant, Part 2).

Letterman also went on a tear — and I heartily agree — that there is nothing like live music.  I fully enjoy music, and wish I still had young enough ears to appreciate the subtle difference between vinyl and digital.  That said, nothing beats live.

Written by johnkilpatrick

May 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm

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