Why Isn't Chubby Checker in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Chubby Checker was one of the most popular artists at the dawn of rock and roll, so many people are surprised to learn that he has never been nominated for the Hall of Fame. After being snubbed by the institution for 15 years, Checker decided to go public with his credentials by taking out a full page ad in Billboard (2001):


Obviously this gesture didn’t sway the powers that be at the Rock Hall. Thirteen years later and Checker still hasn’t even been on the ballot for induction. Needless to say, there’s no statue of him in front of the Museum in Cleveland either.

In 2012, a more wistful Checker spoke to Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle about not getting the same exposure as some of his peers.

”I have only one regret in my whole life," he says. "This is my greatest regret - that my music is not being played and more people aren't seeing Chubby Checker. That's very painful for me. Many nights I have tears in my eyes about that. While I'm praying to God and thanking him for all the good things, I ask, 'Why don't they play my music? Did I do something wrong? Is there something about it?’

”It's not just any music - the No. 1 song in the world, the only song to be No. 1 twice - why don't they play my music? It's so painful. Why isn't Chubby getting his music played like the rest of the white boys?”

Now 72, Checker was asked about the Rock Hall again last month (after taking a break from suing HP):

”I don't want to get in there when I'm 85 years old. I'll tell them to drop dead, so you better do it quick while I'm still smiling. If you put me in when I'm too old to make a living, then it's no good for me to be in there. The Rolling Stones, they're in there. The Beastie Boys are in there, they're young. Hall and Oates were just in there and they're still making money.”

At the 2014 Induction Ceremony, Daryl Hall spoke up for Chubby Checker and other Philadelphia artists (Todd Rundgren, the Stylistics, the Delfonics, the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Len Barry) who have been snubbed by the Rock Hall. Philadelphia DJ Jerry Blavat also recently noted many Philadelphia artists who deserve induction.

”Absolutely, Chubby belongs in there. But there are so many artists that belong in it," he said. Blavat thinks it's a shame Checker and other great Philadelphia rock pioneers, such as Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell - are continually snubbed.

Blavat blames rock and roll Hall of Fame co-founder Jann Wenner for so many rock pioneers being overlooked while modern artists who had less of an impact on the music are honored.

”He knows nothing about rock and roll except past 1965. It took me forever to get Little Anthony and the Imperials and Darlene Love in there," Blavat said. "Everything is political.”

Last year, Philadelphia natives Questlove and Greg Harris joined the Rock Hall Nominating Committee. Questlove openly campaigned for Hall & Oates, so perhaps he and Harris will continue to champion other Philadelphia artists in the future.

Update: Chubby Checker alleges racism is keeping him out.

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