The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not the institution it professes to be. The whole thing is one big facade that exists for music industry noobs to pat one another on the back. Can we stop pretending it’s anything else?
It was founded in 1983 by Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and manager Jon Landau as well as other industry big-wigs to “recognise the people who have created this music which has become the most popular music of our time.”
It’s a simple brief and since the first induction ceremony in 1986, 279 artists and music figures have entered. Artists qualify for induction 25 years after their first record was released and around ten figures are inducted every year (the number changes depending on the mood of the judges.)
The sheer volume of inductees means it’s not exactly an exclusive Hall to get into. You could say they give the award to every Tom (Waits), Dick (Clarke) and (Debbie) Harry who has ever played classic rock music.
The first four or five years of inductees were the legends of the 50s and 60s (Elvis, Buddy, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown etc) as the Hall of Fame tried to catch up on past generations of stars, making sure everyone already successful had made it in, rather than carefully selecting the best of artists to receive the honour. This immediately made the whole process of nominations and inductee a bit of a farce.
The committee have just released their 15 nominees for the 2013 induction. The list includes Donna Summer, Deep Purple and Public Enemy. Also, Rush are nominated for the fifth time. Fifth. Just give them their nod of recognition, induct them and stop pretending this nomination and induction process has any sort of credibility.
It seems artists are starting to see through the ‘institution’ that a few American industry execs created one day. Axl Rose snubbed the ceremony last year and The Sex Pistols declined induction, calling the museum a “piss stain”. You can read their letter of explanation below. It’s easy to understand why – some absolute legends are missing but you also get the feeling that everyone will end up on it at some point.
The Hall has oft been criticised for neglecting certain genres. DJs, hip-hop, rap, punk, prog rock (genres which have become some of “the most popular music of our time”) have long been ignored. But for me the most noticeable omissions are: New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, Lou Reed, Depeche Mode.
Who do you think is missing?