Industry NewsOpinion

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Beclowns Itself (Again)

Latest inductees confirm everything wrong with Cleveland-based institution

Willie Nelson got an odd gift for his 90th birthday.

The country music legend learned he finally made the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame cut.


Is there any sane argument against the singer/songwriter’s legendary status? Did the Hall’s voters need another year of Nelson above ground to finally say, “It’s time?” Did they miss his decades-worth of essential songs, tours and collaborations?

And, by the way, isn’t he a country singer, not a rock ‘n’ roller?

Absurd. All of it.

Then again, absurdity rules this Hall, which officially opened its doors in 1995. The institution is meant to honor rock legends, but through the years it’s welcomed acts whose songs soar beyond the “rock” category.

Think this year’s nominees, including Nelson, Missy Elliott, Chaka Khan and “Soul Train’s” Don Cornelius. Do any of those names scream, “rock” to anyone?

It gets worse.

Bon Jovi, the band that brought the song “Bad Medicine” into existence, is enshrined in the Hall but Iron Maiden isn’t. A more embarrassing case of exclusion comes via the so-called Pre-Fab Four.

The Monkees remain uninvited despite their outsized impact on pop music. The faux band became the real deal, reportedly outsold the Beatles at its musical peak and enjoyed musical rebirths in both the ’80s and mid-2010s.

Their wacky TV show built on the Beatles’ visual legacy and became a precursor to MTV.

And the songs! So many perfect pop moments – think “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “Sometime in the Morning,” “I’m a Believer,” “Shades of Gray” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” Even the deep cuts count, and the band’s 2016 “Good Times” album delivered more essential tracks.

The Monkees - Me & Magdalena (Official Audio)

No invitation as of yet.

The same holds true for the Indigo Girls, a tireless duo with a string of killer tracks and albums. They’re one of the most beloved touring acts around, and yet they still stand outside the Cleveland Hall.

Warren Zevon, Soundgarden and Joy Division also await their induction, assuming it ever happens. Maybe Hall voters are waiting until they each turn 90, which hits Zevon the hardest since he passed in 2003 at the age of 56.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame chairman John Sykes accidentally summed up the institution’s irrelevance via this quote to Variety.

“Sometimes it takes a major moment like Willie’s 90th birthday or, in the case of Kate Bush, music being played in ‘Stranger Things’ to shine a light on them for a lot of younger people who didn’t know who she was in 1985; they probably weren’t even born yet.”

Good thing Nelson lived to be 90, otherwise his body of work might have gotten ignored.


The Baseball Hall of Fame is special, in large part, due to the brutal barrier to entry. Some of the best players of the modern era, including Curt Schilling and Don Mattingly, have yet to make the cut. The former’s political positions clearly play a role in his omission.

Other MLB giants excluded from the Hall include Lou Whitaker, Dale Murphy and Dwight Evans. That means getting a Hall pass means something significant to the culture and the sport.

The musicians who make the Hall cut? The honor means little in the long run. Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen inductee no-shows over the years, including three-fifths of Van Halen, Paul McCartney, Axl Rose and David Bowie.

To quote Bill Murray in the classic camp comedy “Meatballs” … it just doesn’t matter.

It Just Doesn't Matter! - Meatballs (6/9) Movie CLIP (1979) HD


  1. Any music journalist who dismisses Willie Nelson from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an ignorant hack. An incomplete list of artists who have recorded his songs includes: Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Smoking Popes, Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Bros, Freddy Fender, Linda Ronstadt, Tina Turner, Bryan Ferry, Cake, Norah Jones, David Lee Roth, B.B.King, and hundreds more! His music has influenced Rock from its very beginnings. I mean, for Pete’s sake, educate yourselves before exposing your gaping hole of musical ignorance.

  2. Scorpions isn’t even in the Hall of Shame for god sakes they had a lot of radio friendly music no curse words been out since 1965 and still nothing from Hall of Fame for them priest came out 1969 and maiden came out 1973 scorpions came out 1 year after Sabbath . Nugent , Megadeth , motorhead , Slayer , Overkill , Anthrax hell even Rammstein should all be in but hip hop and soft rock like pearl jam is in WTH is wrong with the Hall of Shame

  3. Until Ted Nugent is an honoree I will never spend a dime at the RRHOF. “Sham” doesn’t begin to cover it.

  4. I can get behind Willie being in the Hall, his music has influenced musicians of nearly every genre for decades longer than most of us have been alive.
    However, skipping over true rock artists to induct him and a bunch of pop/rap artists is a throat punch to those artists that have lived, and died, rock and roll.

  5. Let’s get real. This has been a B.S. JOKE for decades. While there are some great Rock n Roll bands inducted here, far too many are the wrong genre, non- deserving and I saw a guy on YouTube show that the last few years the people’s votes are truly meaningless.
    The more bad bands and non- genre bands that are allowed in, the more that the best bands would rather NOT be included in this stupid tourist concept.
    The fact Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden arent in here only tells me the people in control of who is inducted, don’t know a damn thing about music and what bands influenced the world musicians the last 50 yrs. Rage Against the Machine? SMH. Please. Even there fans know they don’t belong here.
    Id rather Canada start a Rock n Roll Hall of fame and have them induct legit , Super stellar bands.
    I never watch the ceremony and its an embarrassment.

  6. Same ongoing logic as was Cleveland being picked for the R&R hall of fame instead of somewhere like like Memphis or London.

  7. To me the biggest omission is the band WAR. They lost several times. I don’t understand how Kiss and Green Day are in but not WAR.

    1. Christian,
      You are as confounded as I was when they finally inducted Lou Reed. It took his death to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame say to themselves: “Oh darn! How did we overlook the Rock and Roll Animal himself?” Not to mention the lyricist poet laureate of the Grittier Side of Life. I had taken for granted that Reed was certainly among the first 20 inductees. That night the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame died for me.

  8. I can understand having blues artists such as B.B. King and Muddy Waters as inductees in the hall as the blues greatly influenced rock and roll but artists such as Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, whi are country, and Eminem, Jay-Z, L.L. Cool J and Notorious B.I.G are definitely not rock by any stretch of a definition nor are they really musicians either. I used to think it was great when my favorite bands would be honored by being inducted in the hall but now anyone without any real influence can become a member. It takes away the sense of honor and pride that one should have for such achievement. May as well give everyone a participation ribbon.

  9. Yes, it’s ridiculous that non-rocknroll artists are in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Apparently they need to change the name to Music Hall of Fame.

    1. I totally agree with this Article! Yes The Monkees that have Influenced So Much Rock Musicians and practically invented the Music Video along with Michael Nesmith with Pop clips before MTV. I find their CD’s, Record’s and All in the “Rock Section'” always at the Music Stores. What a Travesty!!!

  10. None of it will even matter in 5 billion years when the sun burns out and and consumes the earth when it turns red giant. enjoy the music you love and fuck the rarhof.. their opinion or inductee staff mean absolutely nothing to me or my day to day life or love of music.

  11. It doesn’t bother me that Iron Maiden isn’t in the Hall, because Black Sabbath is. Maiden didn’t blaze any new trails unless you count cartoon-mascot album covers. They just followed in Sab’s footsteps (followed very well, but still just followers).

    That said, they should change the Hall’s name to something like “Popular Music Hall of Fame”, or even stick to the original criteria and call it “Music Artists Jann Wenner Wants To Bang Or Suck Up To”.

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