One of CultureSonar’s most popular posts earlier this year was a list of suggested inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which generated literally thousands of comments. As you might already know, eligibility requires performers to have released a record at least 25 years prior to induction. As you definitely know, the qualification of “unquestionable musical excellence” is where the raised eyebrows come into play. While you agreed with most of our proposed nominees, you had quite a number of your own to share as well — about 200 actually. Here is a list of the top ten. These are the musicians and bands that, if you were a R&R HoF voting member, would be at the top of the list for consideration.
1. The Moody Blues*
The Moody Blues scored their first hit with a cover of the soulful “Go Now,” but they’re better known for the proto-prog classic Days of Future Passed. They also released a slew of great tracks in the ’70s and ’80s (“Question,” “Ride My See Saw,” “Your Wildest Dreams”). So why have they been overlooked? Have their symphonic pretensions worked against them? Didn’t seem to hurt ELO. Hall voters? We know you’re out there somewhere. This was the most popular suggestion by a landslide. *Note: The Moody Blues will now be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
2. Warren Zevon
Most know Warren Zevon for his 1977 hit “Werewolves of London.” But Excitable Boy, the album that gave us “Werewolves,” has many other gems, including the title track, “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” and “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.” Zevon once wrote a song for The Turtles, another that appeared in the movie Midnight Cowboy, and was musical director for The Everly Brothers. Some may see him merely as the guy who sang that werewolf song, but our readers know better and demand recompense.
3. Jethro Tull
Critically revered and commercially successful, surely Jethro Tull has earned its spot in the Hall. Nope. Maybe The R&R Hall just doesn’t know what to do with a band that has a flute rocking harder than guitars. (Conversely, the Grammys nominated them in the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal category a few years back. WTF?!) Or is Tull hampered by the same supposed prog/art rock curse hindering The Moodies and ELP (see below)? Maybe the recent induction of Yes is a good sign for the likes of Tull.
4. Grand Funk Railroad
They sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles. So why aren’t Grand Funk Railroad in the Hall? Because it’s not about “popularity and record sales,” remember? Many argue it’s the fact few critics have love for the GFR. CultureSonar’s fans of this band aren’t nearly as snobbish.
5. Little Feat
In the late ’60s, guitarist Lowell George left Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and assembled his own versatile group of musicians to form Little Feat. Despite a slew of great tunes, including “Willin'” and “Dixie Chicken,” and respect from fellow musicians — Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone in 1975 Little Feat was his favorite band — they have yet to get their due from the Hall. Could it be a kind of reverse GFR effect: critical acclaim and respect from fellow musicians, but a lack of commercial radio hits?
6. The Guess Who
“Undun,” “These Eyes,” “No Sugar Tonight”… No shortage of chart-toppers from these Canadians. But what was the only number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from these particular neighbors to the north? You guessed it: “American Woman.” Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Rush are all inducted, which invalidates the “Well, they’re Canadian” argument. Which some have posited, believe it or not. So what gives? We’re stumped.
7. Emerson Lake & Palmer
What do nine gold records and three virtuosic players equal? Zero Hall of Fame inductions. Did we mention Greg Lake was also a founding member of King Crimson (who also aren’t in the Hall!)? When you consider that many Hall voters are likely the same journalists that called them “overbearing,” “self-important” and “pretentious” — while praising “hipper” bands — you start to understand why ELP gets passed by each year.
8. The Doobie Brothers
Pete Townshend once lauded The Doobie Brothers, saying their records “just pop out of the radio speakers and grab at you.” But maybe it’s that very polished, AOR reputation that leaves the impression that the Doobies lack the substance, impact, and influence the Hall claims are essential for induction. CultureSonar fans agree with Pete Townshend, though. So do we.
9. The Cars*
While both Blondie and The Cars went from gritty punk scenes to commercial success, Debbie Harry’s impact on a generation of female musicians may be one of the things that helped distinguish her band in the minds of Hall voters. Meanwhile, the Cars are stuck in the back of the lot. The time has come to give Ric Ocasek and company some serious respect. *Note: The Cars will now be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
10. Three Dog Night
21 consecutive Top 40 hits are sure to impress, but a relatively short period of popularity and the fact they didn’t write their hit songs may be reasons Three Dog Night gets the Hall snub. We hear you. We hear you. That didn’t stop many other performers from getting enshrined. We’re just saying that this might be the argument the Hall uses in their defense. Hell, they just squeaked into this top ten list.
– Colm Clark
PS. Read our original post: “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: And the Nominees Should Be…” Then check out our companion post: “6 Women Currently Snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Photo credit: Singer and guitarist Denny Laine (left) and bassist Clint Warwick (right) of British pop group The Moody Blues, February 1965. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)