The Fans Have Spoken: Top Five Female Rock Hall of Fame Snubs

female rock hall snubs

Women are woefully underrepresented in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so it’s no surprise many of you vocally chimed in with your picks after we published our initial list of ”6 Women Currently Snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” (For the record, that piece generated a lot of support for Sister Rosetta Sharpe and the Shangri-Las especially!) But given how many women have made an impression on our collective ears over the years, you reminded us that there are tons more to consider. Indeed, a few ladies’ names kept popping up in the comments. Here are your top choices.

1. Pat Benatar
The ‘80s rocker was the top pick among readers, and it’s not hard to see why. The four-time Grammy Award-winner has two multi-platinum albums (Crimes of Passion and Precious Time), five platinum albums, and nineteen Top 40 singles! With major hits like “Love Is a Battlefield,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “We Belong to the Night,” and “Invincible” to her name, she was easily one of the most popular artists of the “totally rad” decade, earning bragging rights as the first female artist to air a music video on MTV. Benatar’s videos remained in heavy rotation throughout the 1980s, cementing her place as the leading female rocker of the era. We may belong to the night, but she belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

2. Carly Simon
Contemporaries Joni Mitchell and Carole King are both already Hall of Famers, so it seems downright absurd Carly Simon has been omitted. One of the defining singer-songwriters of the 1970s, Simon has three gold albums, four platinum albums, and one multi-platinum album (The Best of Carly Simon) as well as four certified gold singles: “You’re So Vain,” “Mockingbird,” “Jesse,” and “Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me).” She’s also the first artist to win a Grammy, Golden Globe and Oscar for a song composed, written, and performed by a single artist for her 1988 hit “Let the River Run” from the film Working Girl. Simon’s easy-going music and confessional lyrics have inspired everyone from Taylor Swift to Tori Amos. That’s more than enough reason to land her in the Hall of Fame.

3. Carol Kaye
Carol Kaye may not be a household name, but her music certainly is. The prolific guitarist and bassist has backed many of your favorite bands over the years. She’s worked with the Beach Boys (“Good Vibrations”), the Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’”), Simon & Garfunkel (“Homeward Bound”), Nancy Sinatra (“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”), and Joe Cocker (“Feelin’ Alright”) among others. Kaye was a go-to for legendary producers like Phil Spector and Quincy Jones, and she often had the distinction of being the sole female studio musician in a room full of guys for many years. Kaye originally started as a jazz guitarist, but a chance meeting with Sam Cooke’s producer in the late ‘50s led to recording sessions with the soul singer and eventually a steady gig as a studio musician, playing on an estimated 10k sessions! Without Kaye, quite a few of rock n’ roll’s biggest hits simply wouldn’t sound the same. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to duly recognize her contributions to so many of the artists who are already members.

4. Suzi Quatro
Though there were plenty of hard-rocking women in the music scene toward the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, bassist and singer Suzi Quatro was something else when she roared on the scene in 1973. Usually clad in a leather jumpsuit, Quatro eschewed traditional femininity in favor of a gregarious masculine aesthetic and performance-style akin to the male rockers she idolized. “I was a new kind of female,” Quatro told The Herald, “they weren’t quite sure what to do or say.” Indeed. As the first female bass player to become a rock star, Quatro hit number one in the U.K. and Australia with singles “Can the Can” (‘73) and “Devil Gate Drive” (‘74) and sold somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million records. While she was never as big of a musical act in the U.S. (a role on Happy Days made her a household name), her influence could be felt on other female rockers like Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. Quatro is already in Michigan’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so it’s time for this barrier-breaker to break through one more and take her rightful place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

5. Connie Francis
As some of you noted, Connie Francis was not only a top-selling female artist of the ‘50s and ‘60s, she’s estimated to be among the top-selling female artists of all time, challenging only Madonna for the top spot. With at least 200 million records sold, Francis’ impact can’t be denied. Nor can her long list of hits from “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Stupid Cupid” to “My Happiness” and “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool.” By the end of the ‘60s, she had 35 Top 40 hits to her name. The early prototype for today’s pop stars, Connie Francis easily hopped from genre to genre and was among the first popular singers to record albums in other languages. Despite many personal setbacks and tragedies, Francis has kept on recording and touring around the world. Who’s sorry now? The Hall of Fame should be for not including this major hitmaker among their ranks.

Emmy Potter

Photo: Pat Benatar by Mark Davis/Stringer (courtesy Getty Images)

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Emmy Potter is a Midwestern-born, New York City-based actor, writer, producer, Anglophile, guacamole-enthusiast, and devoted Kansas City Royals fan. She owns two sonic screwdrivers, has read Harry Potter more times than she can count, and can quote Jaws and Jurassic Park with 100% accuracy. When she’s not flexing her nerd muscles, she’s most likely writing about film, TV, comedy, and/or theatre for a number of online publications/websites or riding her bicycle around the tri-state area like the Spielberg film child-protagonist she always aspired to be. Twitter: @emmylanepotter

32 comments on “The Fans Have Spoken: Top Five Female Rock Hall of Fame Snubs

  1. MatthewAdcock

    Expose, Envouge seems to come to mind.

  2. Olivia Newton-John deserves it, too. Spanning nearly every genre of music, her music has won 4 Grammys, an Emmy, and even a couple of Oscar nominations. It’s a major oversight, too, considering that she is one of the top female vocalists of all-time, selling over 100 million records.

    • Olivia isn’t Rock n Roll enough to go in. I’m a fan but I don’t see t happening. There are just too many male acts, going back to the 60s that are more worthy, She might go in on the “Rondstat/Baez gotta be PC we need a female this year” tip. But I doubt it. I hope she does. She rocks more than those two, for sure.

      • Madonna is not “rock” either. She is just as POP as Olivia Newton-John. Olivia was the first artist to win a Grammy for long form video. She did a few things before Madonna. Olivia’s music from 1978-1991 was very pop rock like Madonna. Don’t get me wrong, Madonna is very deserving but so is Olivia.

        • James Marshall

          I totally disagree with this list. Where is Olivia Newton-John. She sold over 100 million albums, starred in the biggest movie musical ever, 5 Grammy Awards. Also as a side note what about WYNONNA? She is one of the best ever.

      • You need to get over this notion that Olivia Newton-John was not Rock ‘n’ Roll because I don’t thing anyone even knows what Rock ‘n’ Roll is anymore, apparently.
        For example, a few years ago, Rolling Stone magazine released a special edition of the magazine called “The Greatest 100 Rock ‘n’ Roll Albums of All-Time”. I’ve never been a regular fan of this magazine & have probably only read 5 or 6 of their regular releases. However, when I saw this issue at the store, I eagerly bought it thinking it would be an interesting issue. But, when I finally looked through the list of albums, I couldn’t believe half the albums in their list.
        For instance, it included a Miles Davis album and a Hank Williams album. One is jazz & the other is country. I always thought Rock ‘n’ Roll was a unique music genre, just like jazz, blues and country.
        But, judging by this magazine and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and many others, apparently, the term “Rock and Roll” has come to be used as a sort of umbrella term that is all-inclusive of all types of contemporary music. Therefore, it includes jazz, blues, country, rap, hip hop, disco, heavy metal, gospel, soul, r&b, etc. In other words, Rock ‘n’ Roll as you and I always thought of it, is dead and buried.

  3. Oh please RnR has always been more a boys club (for the most part.) Not saying its right, but look at the sheer numbers. If anything they are OVER represented. Joan Baez,Darlene Love,and Linda Rondstat went in largely on the basis of they needed a female that year. Carol Kaye should go in as a sideman category but there are MANY more important than her who aren’t in yet. The fact that they suggest Suzy Quatro when Thin Lizzy and Motorhead haven’t been inducted is a joke. This isn’t even a good list of females to be considered. There is a little bit of a case for Benatar. Diana Ross isn’t in as a solo artist so why should Carly Simon be? Hello the Runaways? You are seriously going to suggest Connie Francis? Why not Doris Day? or johnny Mathis? Theres no Bangles and No Go-Go’s listed here. Is Stevie Nicks in as a solo artist? Olivia? Women aren’t snubbed anymore for this than any of their male counterparts. If anything the amount of Female,or Female let bands that go in on the first ballot is pretty high compared to the guys.For every female you can name I can name 3 male acts that have a much better case to be inducted first.

    • For real. I’m not sure which artists have been inducted, except for a few, mainly because I don’t really care because, as far as I’m concerned, the institution is a total joke. I came to that conclusion a couple of years ago when I went online and looked through the list of those already inducted. What a sham! I could not believe some of the names, it almost made me sick.
      Yet, the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull and Thin Lizzy are not in! Absolute joke!

    • Lance Phillips

      I strongly suggest Wendy O. Williams of Plasmatics and solo artist fame. The ballsiest woman in rock EVER!

    • I kind of have to agree with David L. The Go-Go’s were arguably the greatest, most successful all female band of all time and they should get in LONG before any of these other noteworthy but less original female artists.

  4. Tina Turner for Gods sake!

  5. The one who will never get in, but is criminally underappreciated is the late great Kirsty MacColl.

  6. Suzi Q for sure. Benatar too.

  7. The Rock and Roll is a fraud because Madonna,ABBA and other acts.While other deserving rock acts are not Steppenwolf for Christs sake.Pat Benetar,Tina Turner, Connie Francis for sure.

  8. Joe Cogan


  9. Connie Francis sold a lot of records. So did the Andrews Sisters. The Andrews Sisters aren’t in the hall, because they have no connection to rock and roll. Neither does Connie Francis.

    • Salvatore

      Connie Francis had the first rock and roll million seller by a female artist.

  10. Martin Bryant

    Carol Kaye is significant – her bass lines just rocked and MADE some important recordings. .. she should be inducted individually or as the bassist for the Wrecking Crew. I”m not sure about any of the rest. I’m not sure any of the others are actually “snubbed”.

  11. Janet Jackson is the biggest female snub currently.

  12. There are obvious choices: Stevie Nicks – solo artist, Pat Benatar, Tina Turner – solo artist, Carly Simon, Carole King, and1960s – 1980s pop rock artists like Cher, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, and Diana Ross. Country crossover artists like Emmylou Harris, Roseanne Cash and Dolly Parton belong. Groups like The Runaways, Rufus, The Go-Gos, and The Bangles belong. New Wave artists like Cyndi Lauper. And later artists like singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow.

    The best selling female artist of the 1970s, this includes records sales, and concert tours, was Linda Ronstadt, the hands-down Queen of 1970s Rock ‘n Roll. Linda was inducted forty-seven years after her first Top Ten hit. The RRHOF took so long to induct her that she couldn’t even attend the ceremony due to illness, let alone sing at it. Hopefully, these other women will get in to the RRHOF soon…

  13. What’s taking so long?

    Pat Benatar, Olivia Newton-John, The Go-Gos, Carly Simon, The Runaways, Carole King, Diana Ross, Emmylou Harris, The Bangles, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Cher, Dolly Parton, The Pointer Sisters, Cyndi Lauper, and Sheryl Crow all should be in the RRHoF already.

    They are all standout artists from the Rock n Roll era. Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Donna Summer and ABBA are all female artists who made music in styles that were either influential on RnR or influenced by it. They deserved induction. As do the women above.

    My own pop music listening era era ranged from the sixties through the 1980s and I can tell you these women were big deals and significant artists.

    The recent inductions of women like Summer, Heart, Joan Jett, Joan Baez, and the incomparable Linda Ronstadt should have been inducted years ago. Hopefully, the others will be as well!

  14. The RRHOF is like a royal family without its Queen . Suzi Quatro is rock and roll . It’s a joke she has not been inducted. This needs to change for the RRHOF to maintain any credibility

  15. Connie Francis had the first rock and roll million seller by a female artist! This paved th eway for others!

  16. RRHOF is a joke. They nominated Donna Summer for years and inducted her only when she was dead. Too late. And I agree with all the oversights above.

  17. james marshall

    What about Olivia Newton John. Are you serious. Biggest female singer of the 70’s, she had the biggest song of the 80’s
    “Physical”, Biggest movie soundtrack GREASE.. Wow!!

  18. Jeff Higgins

    Olivia Newton-John should, without a doubt, be in the Rock and roll HOF. The only song of the the DECADE of the eighties to stay at number one for ten weeks was Olivia’s “Physical “…… no Madonna, Michael Jackson, no Diana Ross songs or any other artist can say they accomplished that feat. The number one song of the eighties is “Physical “.
    Olivia’s career is long and full of highlights. She’s sold over 110 million records making her One of the most successful female artists of all time. Pat Benatar got snubbed and I think she deserves to be in the HOF. Benatar, By comparison, has 19 charted songs on billboards hot 100. Olivia Newton-John has 39 song is charted on Billboard hot 100. Olivia Newton John has won 4 Grammy Awards, she has multi platinum albums, and had song and album of the year in 1975 with “ I Honestly Love You .” With five number one songs, 10 top 10 songs , And 39 charted hits, Olivia stands above almost every other female singer that is in the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame. Olivia is more successful than Ronstadt in terms of number one songs and charted hits.
    Oh and then there’s this movie called Grease! She can act as well as she can sing and some of the songs from that movie will go down in pop history as part of the best musical movie of all time. Not many other women can claim this type of success. If the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame he’s going to ever induct her, They should do it soon as she has stage four metastatic breast cancer and it is past curable. I hope they don’t do the same thing they did to Donna Summer. It would be nice if she was inducted and was able to actually be at the induction ceremony. This is nothing to do with a sympathy induction but more to do with a long career full of great success.

  19. I am the biggest Olivia fan and she should be inducted, BUT, to overlook Pat Benatar is a disgrace. She is rock n roll, Whatever that is. C,mon even Patty Smythe of Scandal should be there. Tina, Linda, Pat, Suzi and the rest who are chart worthy should also be RnR worthy,

  20. Bob Richter

    Connie very much deserves to be in. Part of it may be that some of her biggest hits might be considered too adult contemporary however hts like Stupid Cupid and Lipstick on Your Collar stand up with the best of Rock and Roll. 35 top 40 hits and 3 #1s is very deserving. Sadly enough time has gone by that people have forgotten

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