Breaking down the Rock Hall induction statistics

As we approach the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations (look for them in mid-September), let's take a look at the current Rock Hall of Famers and see how they got there.

There are 149 artists currently in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the "Performer" category. (For the purposes of this analysis let's put aside those inducted as "Early Influences", because they aren't subjected to the same voting scrutiny the peformers go under.) Out of those 149, a full 50% of those were inducted in the very first year they were nominated. These are your First Ballot Hall of Famers. For the most part, these are no-brainers such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and U2. There are also some less-obvious artists who made it in as first time nominees like Blondie, Isaac Hayes, Percy Sledge, and the Pretenders.

The next group of artists are those who didn't get inducted on their first try, but got in the second time they were nominated, usually the following year. In fairness, many of these artists were initially nominated in 1986, when they simply couldn't induct everyone deserving in the first year of the Hall of Fame, so they were inducted in '87. There are 31 Second Ballot Hall of Famers (21%), a list that includes Billy Joel, Queen, Aerosmith, and Aretha Franklin. Out of this group, it's incredible to see that David Bowie was actually first nominated in 1992, but didn't get in until four years later!

Third Ballot Hall of Famers make up 12% of the Rock Hall and include artists that perhaps the voters had to think twice about. Some notables include Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, Ritchie Valens, and AC/DC.

Apparently, 1997 was a house-cleaning year for the Hall of Fame. There are only three Fourth Ballot Hall of Famers, and they were all inducted that year—the Jackson Five, the Rascals, and Buffalo Springfield. Perhaps the competition wasn't great in '97 or maybe the voters just got sick of seeing their names on the ballot every year and decided to cave in.

The Rock Hall voters were obviously unsure about most of the artists who were nominated more than four times. There are 22 artists that fall into this category, which is almost 15% of the Hall. This group includes Little Willie John, Gene Pitney, Ruth Brown, Duane Eddy, Jimmy Reed, and of course Solomon Burke, who got in on his 11th nomination.

It's natural to wonder why these artists were inducted, if the Rock Hall voters didn't feel like they were Hall-worthy 6 or 7 times before. And why did the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation keep nominating them year after year, when other artists like the Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, and KISS never even get a chance to be voted on? Perhaps the Rock Hall just needed 8 years to get used to the idea that a band like Black Sabbath deserved to be in the Hall of Fame right alongside Elvis, Janis, and Prince.

Believe it or not, there are only 33 artists who have ever been nominated for induction, but are not in the Hall. So what are the chances for snubbed artists like Patti Smith, Cat Stevens, and the Stooges? Well, of all the artists who have faced defeat at least once, 70% of them eventually became Hall of Famers, so there chances are quite good. That just proves that the nominating committee, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation (based in New York City), holds the greatest power and influence over who gets inducted.
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