6 Women Currently Snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

rock hall of fame

Much like the Academy Awards and its diversity issues, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has come under fire of late for its lack of gender equity. In response, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences overhauled its nominations process by diversifying its voting membership; it seems rock’s Hall of Fame should do the same. In the 30 years since Aretha Franklin’s induction in 1987 as the first female member, only 37 other women have made the cut, including this year’s sole female inductee, folk music icon Joan Baez. The rest of the 317 members are men. Below are just a few of the women who deserve higher recognition pronto.

1. Stevie Nicks*

Technically, Nicks is already part of the RRHoF via Fleetwood Mac, but she deserves recognition as a solo artist too, just like each member of The Beatles, Rod Stewart, or Eric Clapton (who’s been inducted three times). Her 1981 solo debut album, Bella Donna, was certified quadruple-platinum and spawned four hit singles including the often-sampled “Edge of Seventeen.” Indeed, the prolific singer-songwriter has amassed both a huge catalog of music and a rabid fan base with Rolling Stone naming her both one of the greatest songwriters and singers of all time. Throw in her preference for shawls and platform boots and you have the makings of a fashion icon as well. Nicks is also frequently cited as an inspiration by current artists thanks to her crystal-clear alto voice and mystical live performances. This “Wild Heart” woman is more than overdue to take her place as one of the Queens of Rock and Roll. *Note: Stevie Nicks will now be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

2. The Shangri-Las

Considering several of their contemporaries – such as the Ronettes and Martha & the Vandellas – are already part of the RRHoF, it’s kind of criminal these bad girls haven’t been accorded similar honors. A lot of girl groups sprang up in the ’60s, but the Shangri-Las stood out from the pack, literally, with darker, kitschy songs like “Leader of the Pack” and tough-girl personas based in Queens, NY. At a time when most tunes were about sweet young love, the Shangri-Las were singing about rebellion and death. Though only together for a brief period, their impact was great. Joey Ramone idolized lead singer Mary Weiss, frequently citing her as one of his biggest influences and even invited the Shangri-Las to play a special one-off show in 1977 at famed punk hangout CBGB. The Ramones are already in the RRHoF. Why not the leather jacket-wearing women who inspired them?

3. Dolly Parton

The self-nicknamed “Backwoods Barbie” is a country singer who transcends easy categorization. Staggeringly prolific, Parton claims she’s written somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 songs, but her 1973 breakthrough hit “Jolene,” has been covered by everyone from the White Stripes to Tori Amos. You can’t get more crossover than that. Additionally, Parton plays at least seven instruments: guitar, banjo, dulcimer, recorder, piano, harmonica, and saxophone. At 71, she’s still regularly touring, performing high-energy 2-hour sets to sold-out crowds all over the world. She’s the most honored female country artist of all-time and is already in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Rock needs to acknowledge her contributions, too. They did with Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

4. Belinda Carlisle/The Go-Go’s

The only all-female band to top the Billboard charts that wrote and played all their own music, the Go-Go’s remain the most successful all-female band of all time. Though this quintessentially New Wave act started in punk, they refined their sound on the road in Europe, eventually touring with the Police. Their debut, triple-platinum album Beauty and the Beat was number one within weeks and yielded two Top 20 hit singles (“We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed”). Despite a discography of three studio albums, The Go-Go’s still sold over 8 million copies in just three years. No small feat. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle went on to have a successful solo career on her own; the single “Heaven is a Place on Earth” from her second album became her signature song and led to a sold-out tour. Not including the Go-Go’s is just a huge no-no.

5. Kate Bush

Eclectic and experimental are just two words that often get thrown out when trying to describe Kate Bush’s music, but the reclusive British singer-songwriter’s impact can be seen far and wide throughout pop’s current landscape from fellow recluse Sia to quirky Bjork to art-pop’s Florence Welch. Bush has always maintained strict creative control over her career; all the way back to her 1978 debut single, “Wuthering Heights,” which she pushed EMI to release rather than the more traditional “James and the Cold Gun.” Bush’s innovative music videos further enhanced her rep as a chimerical force by touring only twice in the last 40 years. Yet her work has earned her numerous accolades. Hell, even the Queen of England awarded Bush with the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her “services to music.” Surely if the Queen approves, the RRHoF should grant Bush similar status.

6. Sister Rosetta Tharpe*

While the RRHoF has included many of the earliest pioneers of the genre, Sister Rosetta Tharpe has shockingly been snubbed despite her huge influence on some of rock and roll’s biggest names. Called the “Godmother of Rock and Roll,” Tharpe became famous as a gospel singer and guitarist in the ‘40s and ‘50s whose virtuosic guitar-shredding inspired everyone from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Jimi Hendrix. Though she falls outside the traditional “rock and roll” definition, Tharpe truly pushed the musical envelope and was ahead of her time. Think of her as the female equivalent of Bo Diddley, T-Bone Walker, or Muddy Waters. They’re in RRHoF and Tharpe should be there right alongside them. *Note: Sister Rosetta Tharpe was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Emmy Potter

Photo: Getty Images

PS. While men do overwhelmingly fill the HOF, there are still some worthy candidates waiting to take their place in Cleveland. Read more about them in our post Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: And the Nominees Should Be…

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78 comments on “6 Women Currently Snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

  1. Jeffrey Bukowski

    Stevie as a solo artist is a little sketchy. She certainly had plenty of hits and solo tours and there’s definitely a strong case to be made, but I’ve always thought the Jimmy Iovine for Lindsey Buckingham trade in producers did her no favors.

    The Shangri-Las are, however unfairly, largely perceived as a one-hit wonder and/or a novelty act. It’s criminal. They should be in, but it’s going to take a lot of time, if ever.

    I hold fast to my belief that people who don’t play rock and roll should not be in the RRHoF. Sorry, Dolly.

    I wish the Go-Gos would’ve had at least one more big album and/or at least two or three more big hits, thus making their inception a lot easier.

    Kate Bush is really interesting. I can’t remember ever pondering her for the Rock Hall before, but now I will. My initial inclination is to say no, but I’m open to persuasion.

    Putting in Rosetta Tharp as an influencer is a no-brainer. I’m stunned that she’s not in.

    Great piece. Thanks for making me think. 🙂

    • Emmy Potter

      I too was flummoxed as to why Rosetta Tharpe is not in when she’s one of the biggest influences on early rock and roll. And the Shangri-Las are great. Totally agree they are unfairly perceived as a one-hit wonder when they really did a lot to shift perceptions of what a “girl group” could look like.

      • But she does get prominent mention in the film (first thing you see) depicting the roots of rock and roll. It, regrettably, is the only acknowledgement of the fact that without African American gospel and blues artists in the early 20th century, we’d have no rock and roll.

    • Wayne Chapman

      When it comes to Kate Bush, there are two questions I have to ask. First, do you own any of her albums? If not, then you’d have no idea what all the fuss is about. In England she’s considered to be a national treasure. Second, are you aware of the profound influence she’s had on popular music? Not just musically but in the way that a live performance is presented? Kate was apparently the first notable rock musician to use a headset microphone during a concert. She did a lot of dancing and mime during her performances, so a rudimentary headset microphone was created to accommodate that. Just that alone has affected so many other musicians that followed in her footsteps. But besides that, she’s an extraordinary musician whose influence cannot be estimated. Did you know that one of her songs was performed by a contestant on “American Idol”? A guy who went by the name of Big Mike belted out “This Woman’s Work,” which blew my mind at the time. So Kate Bush got some credit for it on the show, right? Nope. Apparently American R&B artist Maxwell had covered it, so HE’S the one who was mentioned by Randy Jackson while Simon Cowell (who would have obviously known about Kate Bush) didn’t bring up Kate at all. Sorry, but she deserves the recognition,

    • There have been many male R and R inductees who have had even less “big” hits or albums, than the Go Go’s had..(Hello, Iggy!) that is just one example…The Go Go’s being ignored by the hall is blatant sexism.

  2. Tom Ross

    Pat Benatar, The Runaways

    • Emmy Potter

      There are so many women who should be included, it’s crazy! Pat Benetar and the Runaways definitely should get their due!

  3. plain and simple Cyndi Lauper belongs

    • Emmy Potter

      I definitely agree. One of the most influential women of the 80s.

  4. Tom Eagan sr.

    How can Connie Francis not be in the HOF ?

  5. Mark Taranto

    Let’s face it. The R&R hall of fame is even more meanngless than the Grammys. There are so many acts that belong there (e.g, Jethro Tull, Warren Zevon, The Cars, The Moody Blues). And there are far too many people and groups who are there, but unworthy.

    I just think The Hall is a joke and pay little attention to it.

    • Wayne Chapman

      I’m pretty certain that some if not all of those you listed will be inducted eventually. But what about Big Star or XTC? Or Kate Bush, for that matter? It’s quite likely that none of them will ever make it in because nominating members of the Hall of Fame simply don’t realize how profoundly impactful they’ve been. Or maybe they do and choose to overlook them because they know most Americans tuning in to watch the induction ceremonies would be clueless about their accomplishments and influence.

  6. Mike Iannarelli

    Connie Francis should be inducted over any of these other women. She has sold more records than practically any female vocalist and had several hit during the late 50’s and early 60’s including three that went to number one!

  7. Is Heart in already? How about Big Momma Thorton? There wouldn’t a Hound Dog without her.

  8. Siouxsie Sioux is painfully absent. “The Scream” still amazes me, and was one of the defining albums of my youth.

  9. Engstfeld

    Not impressed with these contestants, other than Pat Benetar. Dan Fogelberg, The Guess Who, Judas Priest, Supertramp, America, Bread, Iron Maiden….far more deserving.

    • Wayne Chapman

      None of those musicians or bands you listed are female, and Pat Benatar was not cited in the article.

  10. Leah J Boule

    Heart~Ann and Nancy Wilson

  11. Chrissie Hynde

  12. James Haviland

    CHRISTINE MCVIE, nee PERFECT! Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell…..

    • Wayne Chapman

      Fleetwood Mac was inducted in 1998, Dusty Springfield in 1999, and Joni Mitchell in 1997.

  13. Zack Lee Right

    Mary’s cry of “Mama!” in “I Can Never Go Home Anymore” is as much Rock and Roll as Daltrey’s scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”. Plus “Remember (Walkin’in the Sand)” was covered by Aerosmith. Criminal oversight.

  14. How do you not add Pat Benatar to that list?

  15. david a.

    how about lulu. just on the song “to sir with love” alone but she is such a good artist.

  16. I disagree. Fleetwood Mac is in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame because of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. The Moody Blues, Tod Rundgren, Steppenwolf, Herman’s Hermits al shoud be in before Pearl Jam or Tupac Shakur or NWA. Joan Baez deserves to be in because of her influence on the Peace Movement and Rock in general. Dolly Parton doesn’t have that same infuence even though she is an icon. She is not Rock. I love the Go Gos and they are one of tge best bands I have seen live but there are many bands that deserve it before they do.

  17. Heart is in, as are The Pretenders, Joni Mitchell and Dusty Springfield. Christine McVie is in with Fleetwood Mac (unlike Nicks, she hasn’t done enough outside the group to merit consideration on her own). What about Whitney Houston?

    • Whitney Houston isn’t Rock n Roll. Her pop career doesn’t compare to Stevie Nicks’s career in and out of a Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks is an accomplished Rocker. It’s why she’s in the RRHOF as a group member and a solo artist. The only woman I both categories.

  18. The Shangri-Las were punk a generation before punk and Shadow Morton also has been missed by most.

  19. WhereIsZevon?

    “The only all-female band to top the Billboard charts that wrote and played all their own music, the Go-Go’s remain the most successful all-female band of all time.”

    If attempting to make a case that more than 10% of the Hall membership should be comprised of females, pointing out that only 1 of the potential choices created their own music might not be the best way to persuade the skeptics.

    • Emmy Potter

      The Go-Gos were the only all-female band to write/play their own music…not the only women to do so.

  20. Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Pat Benatar, Bjork – all deserving. But, the most glaring snub of all? JANET JACKSON

  21. Kevin Clarke

    Labelle. They broke the mold. With Who manager Kit Lambert and Vicki Wickham they transformed the concept of girl group into strong and powerful women. The broke the mold and took every chance. listen to their version of “The revolution will not be televised” and it speaks for itself. They personified what Rock and Roll is, and deserve entry for the path they blazed.

  22. Jackie de Shannon is every bit the artist that Dusty Springfield is — and more. Jackie is a musician and prolific songwriter as well as a singer.

    • Jackie Deshannon as a writer and performer is more worthy of this than so many who already have the award.

  23. Melanie would be a good candidate. She’s been active for almost 50 years, and who can’t hum at least two of her tunes?

  24. Suzy quatro

  25. Duane N Rubadeau

    To be a broken record: Marianne Faithfull & Nico!

  26. Stephen yocham

    The further in time you get from the origins of Rock and Roll and with other acts over the years being considered it is a disgrace that the earliest people and groups are being forgotten! I am 63,and had a sister 7 years older so I remember the late 50’s and of course the 60’s music and even at a young age I knew the Shangri-las songs so my point is that there should be more women in the Hall of fame from the early eras but I’m disappointed with people who have been forgotten about the women as a rule. DO SOMETHING SHOCKING AND NOMINATE ALL THE WOMEN WHO DESERVE TO BE THERE !

  27. But the girls from abba are in!

  28. In the builders category, Rosalee Trombley should be in there. She is responsible for the success of many the artists that are in the HOF.
    She was music director at CKLW radio, The Big 8, back in the 60s and 70s.

  29. Matt carlson

    S Nick is (or was) pretty. But she is definitely no Diva. Not in the same league as Linda Ronstadt or even pat benetar. Nicks amd mcvee are not the reasom fleetwood was so popular. Fleetwood had made many albums before they even joined and Buckingham Nicks was not selling before fleetwood.

  30. Laura Nyro. One of the best singer-songwriters of her time. If you count the number and variety of those who covered her works (three dog night, fifth dimension, streisand, blood sweat and tears, etc) she was very influential.

  31. Kate Bush is in a league by herself. A musical genius who became a pioneer for women in the music industry. She is a brilliant composer, singer, pianist, dancer, choreographer, mime, and record producer. A true original and a highly influential artist whose work is always innovative and on the cutting edge. When she returned to the stage in 2014 for 22 shows, all of the over 90,000 tickets sold out in under 15 minuets. She became the first woman in British history to have 8 albums in charts at the same time, only behind Elvis and the Beatles. There is no musician like her, Kate is one of a kind and it is incredible that she’s not in the Hall of Fame.

  32. Sister Rosetta should have gotten in the first or second year. Dolly is more deserving than most of the current inductees. She even did a good version of Stairway to Heaven.
    There are people in the Hall that shouldn’t be there. Blondie is one that really bothers me, they only had a couple of hits .There needs to be some standards to meet to get in the Hall. Others have been mentioned that don’t deserve to be in . There shouldnt be a baseball player who had a couple of good years in the MLB Hall and there shouldn’t be a bunch of lifetime .260 hitters in the
    Rock Hall !
    Steppenwolf orThe GoGo’s?
    Moody Blues or Melanie ?
    J Geils or anyone ?
    No contest !
    It’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame !
    I’m not saying some of these people aren’t talented but they didn’t have hit songs over many years or leave a lasting mark on music !
    Hey ! How about Tiny Tim !

    • Hit songs and tons of record sales were never supposed to be a mark as a contender for r&r hall….attitude, rebellion, talent and true creativity were the cornerstones…..I would argue that The Go Go’s had every bit as much attitude as Steppenwolf, and wrote catchier songs, to boot!

    • Blondie had plenty of hits, including 4 #1s: “Heart Of Glass”, “Call Me”, “The Tide Is High” & “Rapture”.

  33. Paul Hogue

    The band Fanny absolutely ought to be in there. They were an all women’s rock group from the 70s which had four albums and several charting songs.

  34. I am flummoxed. I see no reference to Carole King. She is BY FAR the biggest female snub. Am I wrong?

    • A totally fair point, though she was inducted as a Brill Building writer. So justice was at least partially served…

    • Emmy Potter

      She was only inducted on the songwriting side, which I find weird since Tapestry is one of the best, most influential albums from the 70s. But she is, indeed, a member of the RRHoF.

    • I agree completely. Induction as a Brill writer hardly acknowledges her influence

  35. jhare2016

    If Jann Wenner doesn’t like you, you’ll wait until hell freezes over to be in the RnRHoF.

  36. I know it’s the “rock n roll” HOF, but you can justify putting in “soft rock” men such as James Taylor and Cat Stevens as well as singers such as Linda Ronstadt and then overlook Carly Simon. She has more hits than Ronstadt, and she is a songwriter (and member of the songwriting hall of fame) as well. I agree that Carole King belongs in the hall as a performer as well.

    • Ronstadt has far more hits than Carly Simon and sold many many more records and sold out arena rock tours. Don’t get confused about that. Carly Simon should already be in the RRHOF, and is a great artist . But she was not the rock n roller that Linda Ronstadt was.

  37. Philip D. Hernandez

    I like all these choices plus Cyndi Lauper and Pat Benatar (seriously, she’s not in?). Even though I despise both “Edge of Seventeen” and “Landslide”, and immediately change stations whenever either song comes on, I still deem Stevie Nicks worthy.

    • I love both Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper….both should be inducted…Pat will probably be inducted sometime down the road, but Cyndi will never be. They will argue that she was too ‘pop’, even though they probably never heard her work with Blue Angels…she is an original, honest rock and roller, but she will never get in.

  38. Martin Bryant

    Carole King as a performer before any of these. Dolly? Hell yeah. She was an early ambassador from Country to Rock, opening the ears of both audiences. She’s a find songwriter and singer. Whitney Houston deserves consideration but Parton first.

  39. Metamorpho


  40. Rick Baamonde

    True geniuses, not just bubblegum perveyors, would be Bjork and Teena Marie. Great singers, great writers, game-changers.

  41. What is taking so long?

    Pat Benatar, Cher, Tina Turner (solo
    career, Olivia Newton-John, The Go-Gos, Carly Simon, The Eurythmics, Bette Midler, The Bangles, Diana Ross (solo career), The Pointer Sisters, Carole King ( currently in as songwriter, not singer), Chic, Cyndi Lauper, Suzi Quattro…

  42. Not previously mentioned–Suzanne Vega, Carla Bley.

  43. I can’t believe Pat Benatar isn’t already in the RRHOF

    Pat Benatar didn’t get inducted today although Whitney Houston did and a rap group did as well.

    Anyone who says Stevie Nick’s solo career is “ sketchy” doesn’t know a thing about Rock n Roll.

    Women still not in the RRHOF as of 2020:

    Pat Benatar?
    Dionne Warwick,
    Carole King (performer),
    Carly Simon (Rock Royalty),
    Bette Midler,
    Suzi Quatro,
    Emmylou Harris,
    Dolly Parton,
    The Runaways,
    Olivia Newton-John,
    Diana Ross (solo),
    The Pointer Sisters,
    Joan Armatrading,
    Bonnie Tyler,
    The B52s,
    The Go-Gos,
    The Eurythmics,
    Kate Bush,
    Cyndi Lauper,
    Tina Turner (solo),
    The Bangles,
    Sheryl Crow,
    Courtney Love

    Another Rock ‘n Roll belter like Benatar, is Linda Ronstadt, the Queen of 1970s Rock. The RRHOF waited until 47 years after Ronstadt’s first hit in 1967. They waited so long that she couldn’t even sing, nor handle traveling to her induction.

    I hope they don’t do the same to Benatar.

  44. Alan Greenberg

    How about Connie Francis bigger than all of the others

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