How Does the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Decide Which Band Members Get Inducted?

JoelPeresman

Rock Hall Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman emerged the shadowy back rooms of the Hall of Fame today to defend the selection process for which band lineups actually get inducted. Peresman spoke to Billboard primarily about the controversy surrounding the induction of just the original lineup of Kiss.

Peresman says that the decision about who to induct from any band is made by the Rock Hall's nominating committee as well as an adjunct group of "scholars and historians" familiar with specific inductees and genres. "This isn't chemistry or physics; it's not an exact science," Peresman acknowledges. "Sometimes there's an entire body of work up until (the artists) are inducted, other times it's a specific period of time that established the band as who they are.”
When there are multiple variations of a band, the vast majority of the time the Rock Hall will only induct lineups from eras they deem significant enough for induction. Recent examples of this are Kiss, Nirvana, Public Enemy, Heart, Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. All of those groups had current or former band members who didn’t get inducted with the rest of the group.

Examples of bands where most, if not all, of the past and current band members got inducted is much shorter: Red Hot Chili Peppers*, Metallica** and Paul Stanley’s favorite example, the Grateful Dead.

Peresman went on to talk about the decision to only induct the original lineup:

”With Kiss there wasn't one person here who didn't agree that the reason Kiss was nominated and is being inducted was because of what was established in the 70s with Ace (Frehley), with Peter (Criss), with Paul and Gene (Simmons). That's what put them on that map.”

Peresman adds that Kiss "is a unique situation where you have artists who wear makeup as part of what the band's about," but the Rock Hall felt that the later members -- including current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, who are wearing Frehley and Criss' makeup, respectively -- "are fine musicians who...basically have the same makeup and are the same characters that Ace and Peter started. It's not like they created these other characters with different makeup and playing different songs. They took the persona of characters that were created by Ace and Peter."

Paul Stanley from Kiss doesn’t accept that explanation. He correctly points out there have been many inconsistencies in the induction “rules.”

Nevertheless, Stanley says Kiss feels that honoring the other six musicians who have played in the band is "a very valid argument considering that there are people who played on multi-platinum albums and played for millions of people and were very important for the continuation of the band. And clearly when you've got a busload of Grateful Dead (members) who have been inducted and guys in the Chili Peppers who nobody knows who they are because they played on the very earliest albums are inducted...The list goes on and on of the inconsistencies. Now, I'm not pointing fingers at any of those people, but I'm certainly pointing a finger at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The only consistencies are inconsistencies and the rules clearly are there are no rules because the criteria for how and who gets in is purely based upon a personal like or dislike. And when I feel we're being treated unfairly, I have issues with that.”
Stanley also directly responded to Peresman’s comments on the official Kiss website:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to attempt to restore its questionable credibility and glimpses behind the facade with nonsense and half truths.

The truth is Joel Peresman and the rest of the decision makers refused to consider the induction of ANY former KISS members and specifically the late Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick who were both in the band through multi platinum albums and worldwide tours and DIDN'T wear makeup.

There is no getting around the reality that the Hall of Fame's favoritism and preferential treatment towards artists they like goes as far as ASKING the Grateful Dead how many members THEY wanted the hall to induct and following their directive while also including a songwriter who was never in the actual band.

Let's just accept the truth as it is and move on.

The Grateful Dead induction was 20 years ago, well before Peresman’s tenure at the Rock Hall, so that example is less relevant than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was on his watch in 2012.

If the Rock Hall had used the strict “significant era” methodology for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (as they are with Nirvana and Kiss this year), they likely would have only inducted Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak, John Frusciante and Chad Smith. Early drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez probably wouldn’t have been inducted nor would current guitarist (and youngest Hall of Famer) Josh Klinghoffer.

It’s hard to justify special treatment given to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the light of the all of the examples of smaller lineup inductions. The Chili Peppers first few albums are not more significant than Nirvana’s first album. The Chili Peppers most recent album is not more significant than Dio-era Sabbath or even Chinese Democracy. This is the precedent that Joel Peresman has established which will continue to anger future Hall of Fame bands as well (Pearl Jam will be an interesting one to watch in three years).

Unfortunately, Peresman didn’t address the recent news that Chad Channing was not being inducted with Nirvana or why Channing had to receive the news via second hand text message four months after the inductees were announced. Peresman also didn’t offer any details about the fast-approaching Induction Ceremony except for, "We have other artists, other inductees showing up and performing when they can.” In related news, there are 3400 tickets available for the ceremony on StubHub, with prices starting below face value.

* - It should be noted that the Rock Hall did not include guitarists Jack Sherman and Dave Navarro, who was with the band for five years during their superstar years.

** - Bassist Robert Trujillo had been with Metallica for five years and one album when he was inducted in 2009. It is also worth noting that Nominating Committee member Cliff Burnstein manages both RHCP and Metallica, so it is possible he may have had a direct hand in selecting which members were honored.

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Update: Chad Channing Will Not be Inducted Into the Rock Hall with Nirvana

It was revealed today that the only members of Nirvana being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year are Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.

Chad Channing, the band’s former drummer who played on Bleach, had been led to believe that he was being inducted with the band as well. Unfortunately that is not the case. Channing passed along to Radio.com this text message that the Rock Hall sent to Nirvana’s management today :

Can you tell whoever looks after Chad Channing that he isn’t being inducted…  It is just Dave, Krist and Kurt.

So how did we get here, where four months after the inductees were announced, that a text message from the Rock Hall is the only confirmation of which band members from Nirvana are actually being inducted?

Ever since Nirvana was nominated in October, there has been speculation as to which members might be honored. Both Chad Channing and Pat Smear appeared on important Nirvana albums so it would not have been a surprise if they were included, especially given the record of previous inductions (see the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a recent comparable example).

So why is the Rock Hall intentionally withholding that information?

Tom Lane relayed a story from former Nominating Committee member Jeff Tamarkin, where in 1994 the Grateful Dead told the Hall of Fame that “all or none” would be inducted, so the Rock Hall gave in and put in all 12 members. Knowing that the Rock Hall has been flexible on this issue, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons tried to negotiate getting additional Kiss members in this year by using their induction ceremony performance as leverage. The Rock Hall has thus far called their bluff and is moving ahead without a performance by the band, and disappointing fans in the process.

By drawing a hard line with Kiss, there is now a bright spotlight on the Rock Hall’s process for choosing which members get inducted. As with most controversial issues with the Rock Hall, they would be more respected if they were open, straightforward and consistent with their rules. Right now, as we have seen with Chad Channing, it’s the opposite of all of those things.

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Exclusive: Former Nirvana Drummer Chad Channing will be Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

UPDATE: Chad Channing will not be inducted with Nirvana.

Future Rock Legends has learned that ex-Nirvana drummer, Chad Channing, will be inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th. Channing will be included with Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl and the late Kurt Cobain.

Channing was in Nirvana for two years surrounding the release of their debut album Bleach, but was replaced by Grohl during the recordings of Nevermind.

Chad Channing says he will be in Brooklyn for the Induction Ceremony, but has no plans to perform.


There is often controversy over which band members actually get their names on the Hall of Fame wall in Cleveland. The Rock Hall makes the decision, but doesn’t have any stated criteria for how they make the rulings or have any consistency from band to band or year to year. Look no further than fellow-2014 inductees Kiss to find bitterness and hard feelings over the decision.*

One could infer from their recent decisions that the Rock Hall tends to honor only the band members who were involved in (what they consider to be) significant recordings, although there are exceptions to that vague criteria as well.**



* - Only the original four members of Kiss are being inducted. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons decided not to perform at the Induction Ceremony because of the Rock Hall’s decision to exclude additional current and former members of Kiss.

** - Just last year, John Rutsey, who like Chad Channing, only played on a debut album, was NOT inducted with Rush.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Drops 50% Vote Requirement for Induction

Induction Process - 50percent
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently updated the Induction Process page on their website to remove the requirement of receiving at least 50% of the vote to be inducted. The revision does nothing to alter the current induction rules, since the 50% rule has been effectively obsolete for years.

We have previously written about the ridiculousness of the 50% rule here, here, here and here (4 years ago!).

The fact that the Rock Hall had left that requirement on their website for so long (and repeated it often) just shows their general indifference to the rules of induction, which ends up generating a lot of skepticism about the process. The Rock Hall doesn’t use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes like most major award organizations do (the Grammys), and never makes the voting results public (like the Baseball Hall of Fame does).

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Pulls Out All the Stops for the 2014 Induction Ceremony

Spinal_Tap_-_Up_to_Eleven
Most of the headlines about the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees have rightfully focused on the artists inducted in the Performer category, such as KISS, Nirvana, and Linda Ronstadt. But the April 10th Induction Ceremony, and the HBO broadcast in May, could have a different set of headlining performances to showcase.

The Rock Hall has picked up a tool that Rolling Stone magazine has utilized for years: The Beatles = $$$ (the Beatles have been on the cover 30 times over the years). So, the Rock Hall decided that this was the year they would finally induct the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, in the Non-Performer category, thereby injecting some ultimate boomer nostalgia into the festivities without even having to put Ringo on the ballot. Could they coax Paul McCartney into inducting Epstein and even performing a song or two? It’s certainly possible.

The Rock Hall didn’t stop with the Fab Four. Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones former manager, is also being inducted as a Non-Performer. (The Stones pop up on the cover of Rolling Stone regularly too -- Mick has appeared 30 times.) Will the Stones perform? You can bet they’ll be invited. Even if they won’t, the Rock Hall will be able to pull together some big names to perform a couple classic songs.

And finally, the Rock Hall decided to play one more huge card it had in its deck: finally inducting the E Street Band in the Musical Excellence category. It has been 15 years since the Rock Hall honored Bruce solo (on Rolling Stone 24 times), so this gives the Hall a great excuse to get the entire group on a stage close to home.

It appears that the Rock Hall is using the categories in which it has full control to guarantee a successful induction ceremony and HBO broadcast. The Non-Performer and Musical Excellence inductees are named by special committees and are not subject to a vote, so the Rock Hall literally could have picked any year to honor these Hall of Famers (all well deserving). So, why this year? The Rock Hall traditionally signs three year deals with its media partners, and this is the third year HBO has the broadcast rights. It seems possible that the Rock Hall decided to go all out this year to set themselves up for their next media deal. Also worth noting is that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has a seating capacity of 19,000*, by far the largest venue they have ever tried to fill for an induction ceremony. Even with all of the Rush fans last year**, the Rock Hall had a hard time selling all of the expensive seats in the 7,100 seat Nokia Theatre in LA, so they want to maximize the number of headliners this year. They didn’t want to put the success of the show solely in the hands of a potential KISS reunion, a Nirvana performance without Kurt, or a Linda Ronstadt no-show. By including the Beatles, Stones, and Bruce, they put themselves in a can’t-lose situation no matter which performers the Voting Committee selected.

Joel Peresman confirmed that the induction ceremonies will now be on a three city rotation: New York (2014, 2017, 2020, etc.), Cleveland (2015, 2018, 2021, etc.) and Los Angeles (2016, 2019, 2022, etc.). It will be difficult for future events to top the 2014 Ceremony for sheer star power, but look at the future eligibility dates and start making plans.

* - The capacity of Barclays for the induction ceremony will end up being approximately 2,000 less than a typical concert because of all of the VIP table seating on the floor.

** - Let’s face it, even if you’re a die-hard fan of an inductee, it’s tough to shell out $350+ to see a short speech and two or three songs. This year, the Rock Hall is making that easier to swallow by including additional artists almost everyone loves. This is only the fourth ceremony that has been open to the public, so the Rock Hall is probably still trying to figure out how much they can charge for these things. The 2013 Los Angeles ceremony was considerably more expensive than either of the Cleveland ceremonies in 2009 and 2012.

*** - This year’s ceremony still won’t rival the Rock Hall’s 25th Anniversary Concert from Madison Square Garden. Check out the lineup and set lists for that one.

**** - Read also last year’s take on HBO’s involvement, still as relevant as ever.

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Questlove joins the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee

Questlove
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer and frontman for The Roots, has joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, according to fellow Committee member Touré.

Questlove is now in a position to directly influence which artists will make the 2014 Rock Hall ballot, especially hip hop artists as a member of the much smaller subcommittee.

The addition of Questlove is not entirely unexpected. Questlove is a music history scholar and became friendly with the Rock Hall when he orchestrated the Beastie Boys tribute performance at the 2012 Induction Ceremony, making him a natural fit on the Nominating Committee, as we suggested six months ago.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee is convening this week in New York to determine the 2014 ballot.

Update: Last year, Questlove put together a top 50 hip hop songs of all time list for Rolling Stone.

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Rock Hall quietly names inducted members of Rush, Heart and Public Enemy

This week, without any official announcement, the Rock Hall revised the official biographies on their website for Rush, Heart and Public Enemy to confirm which members were included in the Hall of Fame induction.

For Rush, obviously Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are being honored. John Rutsey, who was the drummer on Rush’s debut album, is not being inducted.

Only the original 70’s era members of Heart are getting in, despite the band’s continued success in the ensuing decades with other members. The inductees are Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen, Howard Leese and Michael DeRosier.

Only four members of first ballot Hall of Famers Public Enemy are being inducted -- Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and Terminator X. The Bomb Squad, the influential production team behind PE’s sound, are not included, nor is current and longtime member, DJ Lord.

Deciding which members of Hall of Fame groups to induct is often a sensitive and complicated issue, especially for bands that have been around for decades with multiple lineup changes. The Rock Hall doesn’t publish any criteria for how they determine which members to induct, likely because it gets handled on a case by case basis (for example, see 2012 for all sorts of strange contradictions).

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The good, the bad and the ugly of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee announcement:

The Good:

  • Quincy Jones was finally inducted into the Rock Hall. Whatever history there may or may not have been between Jones and the Rock Hall was set aside to do the right thing.
  • Public Enemy getting inducted on the first ballot. It may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, but the Rock Hall sometimes whiffs on these no-brainers.
  • Rush getting its first nomination and promptly getting ushered into the Hall of Fame, like they should have been there all along.
  • The death of the blackball. Will the inductions of Rush and Jones, and the nomination of Deep Purple, put to rest all of the conspiracy theories about a blacklist?
  • No back door inductions. The Rock Hall shouldn’t get credit for not doing something absurd, but we should at least acknowledge that all of the inductees are in their proper categories this year.
  • Keeping the induction ceremonies open to the public. Let’s hope this is a permanent change and that New York will get an induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden next year.
  • Involving Flea in the induction announcement. It’s a great idea to make a bigger deal out of the Hall of Fame induction process by including enthusiastic Hall of Famers like Flea.
  • The predictions. Maybe the Rock Hall is getting a little more predictable, but fellow Rock Hall expert, Tom Lane, nailed all six performer inductees back on October 25th. Amazing. Our predictions are here.

The Bad:

  • The snubs. Let’s face it, the Rock Hall could have easily inducted 12 of the 15 nominees. It’s great that the Rock Hall is now inducting six performers instead of the usual five, but the back log of snubbed artists keeps getting longer and longer.
  • The ballot rules. Why does the Rock Hall let its Voting Committee only vote for five names when there are going to be six inductees?
  • The Rock Hall completely neglected the Early Influence and Musical Excellence categories this year. This is puzzling, since there are still plenty of deserving candidates.
  • Speaking of Early Influences, the Rock Hall still hasn’t set up a “Veteran’s Committee” or “Pioneer’s Committee” to properly address the pre-Elvis era. This should be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame since no one would be opposed to this.
  • There likely won’t be a live stream available of the induction ceremony since HBO holds the rights to the edited broadcast. The Rock Hall was ahead of the curve on this back in 2007, but they have given in to their broadcast partners.

The Ugly:

  • The comments on the Rock Hall’s Facebook posts.
  • The Rock Hall’s handling of the announcement press event. No live video of the announcement? Are you serious?
  • Rolling Stone infuriating every other publication by jumping the gun on the announcement embargo.
  • The official fan poll. Joel Peresman announced that there were over 500,000 votes from the public, but that only counted as a single ballot among the 600 cast (or is it 500?).
  • The 50% “rule.” The Rock Hall still has on its website that inductees are required to appear on at least 50% of the ballots to be inducted. This is demonstrably false.

Like any other year, there are things to criticize about the inductees, but on the whole, this year will be seen as a positive step for the Rock Hall.


Be sure to listen to this segment from NPR where we had the chance to discuss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating process.

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What is the Hall of Fame's Definition of "Rock and Roll"?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s president and CEO, Joel Peresman, has a difficult job. Every year, he has to try to find new ways to remind people that their definition of “rock and roll” is not just white guys playing electric guitars. All quotes from Joel Peresman (emphasis ours):
  • 2013: “The definition of ‘rock and roll’ means different things to different people, but as broad as the classifications may be, they all share a common love of the music. This year we again proudly put forth a fantastic array of groups and artists that span the entire genre that is ‘rock and roll’.”
  • 2012: “The 2012 Nominees embody the broad scope of what ‘rock and roll’ means. From vocal groups to hip hop, from singer-songwriters to hard rocking artists, this group represents the spirit of what we celebrate at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
  • 2012: “We are pleased to announce this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, who represent the broad spectrum of artists that define rock and roll.”
  • 2011: “We believe our nominating committee has put forth a list of artists that truly represent the wide variety of music that defines rock and roll.”
  • 2011: “We are pleased to welcome these artists and executives into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They truly represent the variety of people that have defined and continue to influence music and the business of Rock and Roll.”
  • 2010: “We are very happy to present this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as they represent a great cross-section of artists that define the broad spectrum and history of rock and roll and people that have contributed immeasurably to our business.”
  • 2009: “This year’s class of inductees truly represents what the Hall of Fame is all about. From classic artists that began their careers in the 50’s and 60’s to those that have defined the modern sound of rock and roll. These artists demonstrate the rich diversity of rock and roll itself.  We are proud to honor these artists and celebrate their contribution to rock and roll’s place in our culture.”
  • 2008: "The 2008 inductees are trailblazers -- all unique and influential in their genres. From poetry to pop, these five acts demonstrate the rich diversity of rock and roll itself. We are proud to honor these artists and celebrate their contribution to rock and roll's place in our culture.”
  • 2007: "We couldn’t be more proud to honor this unique, diverse group of rockers, rappers, singers and poets. This is what rock and roll is all about.”
Here’s the Hall of Fame Museum’s president, Terry Stewart, addressing the confusion surrounding the definition of the term “rock and roll”:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has never been just for “rock” artists and it’s not going to change its stripes now.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Rules Q & A

Q: There are 15 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. How many will be inducted?
A: We don’t know yet. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used to announce the number of inductees with the nominations press release. Last year they didn’t announce a number and there ended up being six performer inductees.

Q: Doesn’t the Rock Hall have any rules for induction?
A: Yes and no. For years now, this is what the Rock Hall claims is the criteria for induction (emphasis ours):

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

The Foundation’s nominating committee selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 600 artists, historians and members of the music industry. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.

Seems clear enough, right? The only problem is that the 50% criteria cannot be possibly be enforced when you predetermine the number of inductees.

Q: Why is that?
A: For example, there were 12 nominees for the 2010 inductions and they decided ahead of time there would be five inductees. Mathematically, it’s possible for none of the nominees to receive greater than 50% of the vote. So how can you have a rule requiring a certain percentage of the vote when you’re going to induct exactly five anyway? The 50% rule was meaningless then, and is likely meaningless now.

Q: Why is the rule meaningless now? They haven’t predetermined the number of inductees this year.
A: Take a look at our mock poll, which mimics the Rock Hall’s ballot process. Currently only three artists are polling above 50%. In a year as diverse as this, where there are only a couple of overwhelming favorites to be inducted, it’s very likely there will only be a few artists who appear on the majority of ballots, if any.

Q: So, if no artist gets over 50% of the vote, will the Rock Hall just cancel the induction ceremony?
A: Of course they won’t. HBO has a show to put on. That’s why the 50% rule is completely meaningless and should be removed from their website.

Q: If the only rule the Rock Hall has for induction is meaningless, then what rules do they follow?
A: Um… At this point, the best answer is that there are no rules.

Q: Why did they stop predetermining the number of inductees? That seemed like a reasonable rule if you ignored the 50% requirement.
A: Now that there are no rules to pretend to adhere to, the Rock Hall and HBO can induct as many or as few artists as they want to so they have an acceptable broadcast. For example, if the top five vote-getters turn out to be Procol Harum, Albert King, Donna Summer, The Marvelettes and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, would HBO be happy about an event where so many of the inductees were dead or unknown to a huge part of their audience? And let’s say Rush or N.W.A came in sixth. Isn’t it an easy decision to just go ahead and induct six or seven artists for the benefit of the TV show? Having no rules gives the Rock Hall a lot of flexibility.

Q: Who gets to vote anyway?
A: All 423 living Hall of Famers get a ballot. It’s unknown who the rest of the Voting Committee is, with the exception of a few nice people who go public with their ballots.

2013_Ballot

Q: But the fans get to vote this year!
A: Indeed they do, but it’s mostly a symbolic gesture from the Rock Hall. The top five vote-getters from the official online poll will be recorded on just one of the 600+ ballots and added to the total.

Q: Are the ballots cast anonymously? Who counts the votes?
A: The ballots are not anonymous. Joel Peresman, the Rock Hall President & CEO, admitted in an interview that they look to see who certain artists voted for, which could influence future nominations. As for who counts the votes, we’re assuming it’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation itself. Most award shows use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes to avoid accusations of impropriety.

Q: How many of the 600+ ballots actually get filled out and returned?
A: We don’t know, but would love to find out. We would also like to know the average number of artists voted for on each ballot. You can vote for a maximum of five, but some people vote for fewer than that. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Rock Hall has never released any voting statistics.

Q: Didn’t voters used to have to rank their votes in order of preference?
A: Indeed they did, but it was never known why. The Rock Hall dropped that requirement a few years ago.

Q: When will the inductees be announced?
A: Last year, ballots were due December 5th and the inductees were announced on December 7th. As you can see above, this year’s ballots are due December 3rd, so the inductees should be announced shortly thereafter.


Let us know if there are any questions that we missed, and we’ll try to answer them.
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HBO, Los Angeles and the Future of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced earlier this week, the Rock Hall also revealed that the 2013 induction ceremony will be returning to Los Angeles for the first time in 20 years. The ceremony will be held on April 18, 2013 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live*, the same venue that hosts the Emmys, the American Music Awards, the American Idol finals and many other events. With Cleveland already committed to hosting the Induction Ceremony every three years, there is now the potential for a three-city rotation -- New York, Cleveland and LA.**

The Rock Hall also announced that HBO will be broadcasting the 2013 induction ceremony. HBO and the Rock Hall began their relationship in 2009 with two star-studded 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fundraising concerts which were held at Madison Square Garden. The show was enough of a success that after Fuse’s broadcast rights expired in 2011, the Rock Hall signed an agreement with HBO to broadcast the 2012 induction ceremony, and now the 2013 broadcast.

One thing in common with all three of the HBO / Rock Hall events so far, is that the concerts have been in large venues, filled with rock fans. There is a very different energy to the induction ceremonies when there are fans screaming, cheering, and booing (sorry, Axl) for the inductees. The broadcasts from the private Waldorf-Astoria events have always seemed awkward on television, especially the performances in front of the (usually) seated tuxedoed crowd. On the other hand, HBO’s broadcasts have captured the electricity of the events, much of which has been provided by the fans. For 2013, it would appear HBO isn’t interested in rocking the boat, preferring to broadcast a rock concert, rather than a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.

But why Los Angeles? First, this allows the Rock Hall to tap into West Coast philanthropists that may not make it to New York events. Secondly, there is a rich talent pool to draw from to be in the induction ceremony, as either presenters or performers.

HBO’s first induction ceremony this year was packed with big names as presenters and performers. They took full advantage of six performer inductees, the most since 2004, plus all of the backing groups which were part of a special induction. HBO also benefitted from a young-demographic-friendly slate of inductees, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and the Beastie Boys. Green Day even had the unprecedented honor of opening the show with one of their own songs, even though they weren’t being inducted. This all made for great television. It’s unclear how successful the show was ratings-wise, but the ceremony was rebroadcast often throughout the summer.

Assuming the induction ceremony moves back to New York for 2014 (Nirvana!), HBO will likely want use a venue like Radio City Music Hall rather than going back to a hotel ballroom, with significant performance limitations (sets, lighting, cameras, etc.). We’re going to bet that we have seen the last of the old Waldorf, at least as long as HBO is involved.

waldorf2011
Things are a little cramped at the Waldorf induction ceremonies

PublicAuditorium2012
Cleveland’s Public Auditorium is old, but large enough for a professional production.

nokiatheatre
LA’s Nokia Theatre is a modern venue built for big-time televised events.

* - We’re assuming the Rock Hall will make tickets available to the general public as they did in Cleveland in 2009 and 2012, since the Nokia Theatre has a seating capacity of 7,100, but that hasn’t been announced (Cleveland’s Public Auditorium held roughly 5,000 fans). We’re also assuming tickets won’t be the $50 bargain that they were in Cleveland. For example, ticket prices for the American Music Awards range from $95 to $2200.

** - So what is driving the decision to move the induction ceremony away from its home in New York at the cozy (and invite-only) Waldorf-Astoria? Selling dozens of $30,000 to $100,000 tables at the New York induction ceremony has traditionally been the primary fundraiser for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. With the music industry in the tank, perhaps the money just isn’t there anymore.

*** - The Rock Hall has long relied on selling the TV rights of the induction ceremonies to partners such as VH1 and VH1 Classic (pre-2009), and more recently Fuse (2009-2011) and now HBO (2012-2013). Lately, the Rock Hall hasn’t been interested in broadcasting the Induction Ceremony live on the internet. Let’s hope they reconsider.

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Women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened a temporary exhibit last year called “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power.” At the time, there was quite a bit of discussion about the exhibit and the fashion sideshow of it all, exemplified by Lady Gaga’s meat dress on display. One important element that wasn’t discussed enough was the actual number of women inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself.

We were inspired to delve into this further after reading this recent tweet:

Are you kidding me? Only 4% of the inductees @rock_hall are women??! What can be done about that? #Cleveland

— Folk 'N Great Music(@FolkNGreat) August 26, 2012
Now, we have done some rough calculations on this subject previously, and 4% seemed awfully low, so we went ahead and counted up all of the inductees (including every inducted member of groups).

Induction Category# of Hall of Famers# of Women% Women
Performer565488.5%
Early Influence*50612%
Non-Performer4436.8%
Lifetime Achievement700%
Sideman / Musical Excellence1900%
Total685578.3%

Some additional data points:

  • Of the 186 performers inducted, 31 include at least one woman (16.7%).
  • There are 98 duos and groups that have been inducted in the performer category, accounting for 494 of the inductees. Of these, there are 36 women from 19 groups.
  • Of the 88 individuals inducted in the performer category, there are 12 women (13.6%).
  • There are no women in the “Clyde McPhatter Club” -- Hall of Famers inducted multiple times.
  • In 1986, 1992, 2001, 2003 and 2004, no women were inducted.

It’s difficult to find a similar institution to compare to the Rock Hall. (For example, the Baseball Hall of Fame only has one woman inductee!) Another music industry benchmark might be the Grammy Awards. Their marquee award, Album of the Year, has included a woman 31% of the time (17 out of 54). This issue isn’t exclusive to music. In the U.S., only 5% of the art on display at museums is made by women.

After all of the “Women Who Rock” publicity last year, many of us thought that might inspire a more female-centric 2012 induction ballot. When the finalists were announced, five of the fifteen were women, a relatively high percentage by Rock Hall standards. But after the voting, and when it was all said and done, out of the 69 trophies handed out at the Induction Ceremony in Cleveland this year, just two went to women.

* - We haven’t been able to fully document all of the inducted members of Early Influence groups. This may be where the discrepancy lies between our total number of inductees. The Rock Hall lists 681 and we counted 685. The percentages of women remain largely unaffected either way.

See also: Heart wants to break into the “brotherhood”

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Breaking Down Axl Rose's Rock Hall Rejection Letter

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Just three days from the 2012 Induction Ceremony, and after months of speculation about a potential reunion performance, Axl Rose wrote an open letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame declining his induction with Guns N’ Roses.

Let’s take a close look at what Rose wrote and what he might be trying to say between the lines.

To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,

When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N' Roses were to be inducted it'd be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.

Since then we've listened to fans, talked with members of the board of the Hall Of Fame, communicated with and read various public comments and jabs from former members of Guns N' Roses, had discussions with the president of the Hall Of Fame, read various press (some legit, some contrived) and read other artists' comments weighing in publicly on Guns and the Hall with their thoughts.

Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out. Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.

Axl has a BIG problem with the fact that the Rock Hall decided, apparently without his input, which members of Guns N’ Roses got inducted. The Rock Hall chose to induct the original five members, plus Matt Sorum and Dizzy Reed. With the exception of Reed, none of those guys are still with the band, and Axl appears to feel his current lineup should be included as well. And why shouldn’t he? All he had to do was look at fellow 2012 inductees, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to see that new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is somehow getting inducted after just three years as an official member of the band (under the Trujillo precedent). Axl has worked with a bunch of different people since the mid-nineties, but there are members of the current GNR that he has worked with for over a decade now. The Rock Hall has recently been taking a much more inclusive stance with inductees, so why shouldn’t they be inducted? Oddly enough, the Rock Hall may have been waffling on this issue. They hadn’t publicly released the inducted members list, and only updated the Guns N’ Roses bio on their website this week to make it official. They could have changed their mind without having to backtrack.

Axl may have also had a problem negotiating the performance aspect of the induction ceremony. Don’t forget that when Van Halen was inducted in 2007, the negotiations about the song selection caused David Lee Roth to stay home. Rock Hall president Joel Peresman said this about the incident,“"We made every effort and the decision not to come was solely his, not ours."”Hmm… Expect a similar statement from the Rock Hall about Axl Rose to surface soon.

For the record, I would not begrudge anyone from Guns their accomplishments or recognition for such. Neither I or anyone in my camp has made any requests or demands of the Hall Of Fame. It's their show not mine.

Axl makes it clear here that he wasn’t trying to keep Slash or anyone out of the Hall of Fame.

That said, I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of "Guns N' Roses”.

Boom. There have been plenty of artists over the years who haven’t shown up to the Induction Ceremony (most infamously, the Sex Pistols), but this is the first time an artist has actually declined the induction. It appears that the Rock Hall is going to ignore Rose’s request and induct him anyway. The glass has already been etched on the Hall of Fame wall in the museum.

This decision is personal. This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario all the way around.

In regard to a reunion of any kind of either the Appetite or Illusion lineups, I've publicly made myself more than clear. Nothing's changed.

Yup, Axl really does hate Slash.

The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of "for the fans" or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba. 

Again, sticking up for his current band.

Izzy came out with us a few times back in '06 and I invited him to join us at our LA Forum show last year. Steven was at our show at the Hard Rock, later in '06 in Las Vegas, where I invited him to our after-party and was rewarded with his subsequent interviews filled with reunion lies. Lesson learned. Duff joined us in 2010 and again in '11 along with his band, Loaded, opening in Seattle and Vancouver. For me, with the exception of Izzy or Duff joining us on stage if they were so inclined somewhere in the future for a song or two, that's enough.

There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.

Is Axl waiting for an apology? Do Slash and Steven Adler even know what they would be apologizing for at this point?

Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.

So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.

No, fans aren’t owed anything. But it’s easy to see a giant missed opportunity and wish it were different.

But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.

”It’s not me, it’s you.”

In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.

I wish the Hall a great show, congratulations to all the other artists being inducted and to our fans we look forward to seeing you on tour!!

Sincerely,

Axl Rose

P.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III

Guns N’ Roses fans were indeed hoping for a reunion, even it was extremely unlikely. Even the original five were never going to perform together at the ceremony, it would have been cool to at least see them on stage together to accept their award. Clearly, Axl Rose didn’t see it that way. Hey, it’s his legacy, he can do what he wants with it.

So, how will the Rock Hall handle the sticky situation of a GNR induction now? We know that Green Day will be doing the induction speech, but what about a performance? We don’t see Green Day covering GNR like they did for the Ramones. Our theory is that now that Axl is out of the way, Slash, Duff and Steven Adler can perform with Kid Rock on vocals. (Supposedly, Kid Rock and Axl are on the outs, so maybe Kid Rock won’t mind pissing off his old friend.) What else is Kid Rock going to do at the ceremony if he’s not doing some GNR songs? We’ll all find out on Saturday night.

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Josh Klinghoffer is the Youngest Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ever

At age 32, Josh Klinghoffer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers new guitarist, is set to become the youngest Rock and Roll Hall of Famer ever inducted, surpassing Stevie Wonder’s record of 38.

In addition to Josh Klinghoffer, the other Red Hot Chili Peppers being inducted are: current members Anthony Kiedis, Flea (Michael Balzary) and Chad Smith; former guitarists John Frusciante and Hillel Slovak; and former drummers Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez.

Notably absent are former members Dave Navarro and Jack Sherman, each of whom were the featured guitarist on one album.

Although it may seem premature to induct Klinghoffer with the band after having only appeared on one album, it’s quite possible he could be with the band for years to come. In that case, it would be unfortunate if he was not included with the band in the Hall of Fame. It’s probably better for the Rock Hall to err on the side of inducting more people rather than few, although you do risk having extraneous Hall of Famers if things don’t work out. For example, what if the Rock Hall had inducted Van Halen during the brief Gary Cherone era? In hindsight that would have been a bit embarrassing. (No one has ever been kicked out of the Rock Hall.)

For some unknown reason, the Rock Hall continues to treat these decisions as classified information. They still haven’t publicly released which members are being inducted for Guns N’ Roses (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff, Adler, Sorum and Reed), RHCP and the Small/Faces (Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones, Rod Stewart and Ron Wood). And don’t expect to hear why Dave Navarro wasn’t inducted with the band, even though he spent five years with the band and appeared on a hit album with three hit singles. How much of that decision was the Rock Hall’s, and how much was the band’s? We’ll probably never know. Someone from the Rock Hall should stand up and defend these borderline decisions.

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Miracles do happen: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Adds Six Backing Groups to the Class of 2012

Good for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are correcting a past mistake by inducting six backing groups into the Rock Hall with their lead performer.From Rolling Stone:
In each of these cases, the backing group failed to get into the Hall of Fame at the same time as their frontman - sometimes causing a great deal of controversy. The Hall of Fame's failure to induct the Miracles along with Smokey Robinson in 1987 caused a particularly large uproar. Hall of Fame rules state that artists are eligible for induction 25 years after their debut release. At the time, Robinson had been a solo artist for only 14 years.
From John Soeder’s Plain Dealer report:
The newly announced honorees were not nominated on the latest Rock Hall ballot. Instead, they were designated by a special committee.

"There was a lot of discussion about this," said committee member Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

"There had always been conversations about why the groups weren't included when the lead singers were inducted," Stewart said.

”Very honestly, nobody could really answer that question -- it was so long ago. . . . We decided we'd sit down as an organization and look at that. This is the result.

"You're looking at some of the lynchpins between rockabilly and vocal-harmony and straight-ahead rock 'n' roll. It speaks to when this music took off. It's a great statement about the early years.”

. . .

As for other groups that were not inducted alongside their frontmen -- Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, for example -- Stewart said they might have a shot at getting in someday as recipients of the Rock Hall's Award for Musical Excellence.

"The great thing is that the organization recognizes that it needs to look at the process from time to time, and look at the results," Stewart said.

”If there are things that we think need to be modified or changed, then that's what we do."

Congratulations to the members of these groups (and their families) who are finally getting the recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they deserve. A shout-out also goes to the community members of Future Rock Legends who have been banging the drum on this issue for so long (especially Bill G. and Roy).

More to come...

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Howard Stern interviews Steven Van Zandt about the Rock Hall

Howard Stern recently interviewed Steven Van Zandt on his radio show, and the topic of conversation eventually came around to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (skip to 10:07).

Uber-Springsteen fan Gary Dell’abate brings up the fact that the E Street Band isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce. Van Zandt doesn’t personally feel snubbed, but he feels Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg and the rest of the band deserve to be honored. What Van Zandt fails to mention in the interview is the fact that he is one of the key people responsible for making those Hall of Fame selections! Not only is Van Zandt on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, who come up with the ballot each year, he is also one of eight members on the sub-committee which selects the Musical Excellence Award winners each year, the category in which the E Street Band would likely qualify. All of that goes unmentioned by Van Zandt as he tried to defend Howard’s claim that the Hall of Fame is a joke. Van Zandt only said he was a supporter of the Rock Hall.

Listen to the rest of the Rock Hall talk in the next section.

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Rock Hall President & CEO Joel Peresman on the Eddie Trunk Radio Show

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On December 19th, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President & CEO, Joel Peresman, sat down with outspoken Rock Hall critic Eddie Trunk for a long radio interview. Here are some (paraphrased) revelations from the chat:

  • Joel Peresman is not a member of either the Nominating Committee nor the Voting Committee. When Trunk repeatedly asked about famous Rock Hall snubs Rush, Kiss, and Deep Purple, Peresman agreed they should be in, but there was nothing he could do about it.
  • Peresman’s involvement in the induction process is limited to administering the process and counting the votes. He claims he has no power to change the members of the Nominating Committee or change the induction process. Peresman implied the process is controlled exclusively by the Nominating Committee chairman (and Bruce Springsteen’s manager), Jon Landau. Peresman also downplayed Jann Wenner’s role in the process.
  • Even if Peresman did have the ability to change the process, he wouldn’t do much. The only changes he mentioned were potentially expanding the 600+ member Voting Committee to include more young voters. When pressed about giving the fans a vote, he thought that was a possibility, but the fan preferences would only be a small part of the voting tally, similar to the Heisman Trophy system, where fans get one vote out of 926. Peresman said there was no way the fans would be able effect the nominating process. Peresman also brushed off the suggestion of term limits for the Nominating Committee members, or the possibility of releasing vote totals.
  • Eddie Trunk continually pressed Peresman about the process, asking if there are so many obvious artists who should be inducted, or at least nominated, isn’t that a symptom of a broken system? Peresman admitted there are many deserving artists, but he feels the system is basically fine.
  • Eddie Trunk asked Peresman about a rumor that he had heard directly from a Nominating Committee member, that as a condition of a Kiss induction, the band demanded some sort of financial compensation. Peresman flatly denied the rumor. Kiss was nominated in 2010, but did not get inducted.
  • Peresman said the reason they don’t make the Nominating Committee members public, is because the members don’t to be hassled by fans. Peresman doesn’t have a problem with members acknowledging they are on the committee if they choose. (Of course, we have listed all of the members on our website now for years.)
  • VH1 honcho, and Nominating Committee member, Rick Krim, called into the show to discuss the process. Krim acknowledged that this year was his third on the committee, and that he has pushed for Rush each year. He also has lobbied for Chicago, Yes, and Heart.
  • Krim admitted he was unaware of how the nominating process worked the first year he joined. He also claims he had never heard of Wanda Jackson when her name came up at the meeting, but was quickly convinced she was deserving of induction. Jackson was inducted in 2009, and Krim was not listed as being on the Committee that year. (As Tom Lane mentioned on Twitter, “Shouldn't a Rock Hall NomCom member know about all genres of music, from the early days of Rock (and pre-Rock) to today's music? I say yes.” )
  • Joel Peresman discussed that an artist’s influence on other artists was the primary criteria for the Rock Hall. He admitted to studying the returned ballots from the Voting Committee to see who past inductees voted for. He used the example of looking at Bono’s ballot to see who was important to him. He implied this could influence who gets nominated again.
  • A caller asked Peresman about why the Small Faces and Faces were nominated together when they were two different bands with distinct sounds. Peresman admitted that individually they probably wouldn’t have been nominated, but it “made sense” to put them together on the ballot. (Sorry, Mr. Peresman, but that makes NO sense.)
  • Eddie Trunk asked about the status of a potential Guns N’ Roses reunion at the induction ceremony. Peresman said he had heard from representatives of all five original members that they would be there. Slash later issued a denial on Twitter, “For the record, I didn't RSVP, or in any way commit to attending the RRHF. I don't appreciate people putting words in my mouth.”
Unfortunately, Eddie Trunk didn’t ask Peresman about the oddities of Freddie King’s induction or the conflicts of interest on the committee, but it was overall it was a very good interview. Joel Peresman deserves credit for taking the time to sit down with one of the most outspoken Rock Hall critics. Eddie Trunk has now set his sights on trying to talk to Jon Landau, since he apparently holds all of the power over the induction process.
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Why Freddie King's Induction as an Early Influence Makes a Mockery of the Entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Process

And this has nothing to do with the merits of Freddie King’s induction. By most accounts he was an important guitarist and is worthy of being a Hall of Famer. But it should never have happened like this.

Freddie King was one of the 15 performer nominees for the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class. His name was on the ballot right between Joan Jett and Laura Nyro. His name was occupying one of the spaces on that ballot that dozens of other artists have been trying to be a part of for so many years and have been left out. You don’t think Deep Purple fans might have liked to see their name on the ballot there? They’ve never been nominated. Johnny Burnette & the Rock N Roll Trio? Nope. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Judas Priest. We could go on. The complaining wouldn’t be so loud if these artists ever even had a chance.

So why would the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee waste a space on the ballot for an artist who was going to be inducted as an Early Influence anyway? (More on that in a second.) What does that say to the Voting Committee members who used one of their five precious votes on someone who was already in? Are you kidding? Don’t you think most voters would have liked to use that vote somewhere else? We bet War, the Spinners or Donna Summer would have liked those extra votes.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Rock Hall did the exact same thing three years ago with Wanda Jackson.

The reason the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is so maddening to some of us is not because of who is in and who is out (that’s an entirely different discussion). It’s that the Rock Hall doesn’t even respect a defined process for induction. What other institution makes things up on the fly the way the Rock Hall does? Maybe the People’s Choice awards? Say what you want about the snubs of the Baseball or Football Halls of Fame (or even the Oscars), but you can’t say they don’t follow a set criteria and rules for induction.

Since 2005, the Rock Hall has honored five performer inductees every year. Since voters could choose up to five artists on their ballot, there was a logical symmetry between the ballot and the number of inductees. But this year, even though voters could still choose only five names, the Rock Hall decides to induct six artists. Why? Was it because one of the inductees is deceased (Laura Nyro)? No, they only inducted five in 2006 when Miles Davis was posthumously honored. So why are they inducting six this year? It feels like the system is being manipulated for some unstated reasons. The Rock Hall is certainly at liberty to change the rules, but does it need to be in the middle of the game?

And then there’s the issue of inducting Freddie King as an “Early Influence” -- an issue that came up the last time this happened with Wanda Jackson. The Rock Hall’s definition of the category from their website: “Artists whose music predated rock and roll but had an impact on the evolution of rock and roll and inspired rock’s leading artists.” The key part of that definition is that the music “predates rock and roll.” The rest of the definition applies to all Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Both Freddie King and Wanda Jackson’s important works did not predate rock and roll by any definition. Wanda Jackson was a contemporary of Elvis. Freddie King had most of his hits in the ’60s. So, again, has the criteria changed?

And while we’re discussing the ballot, why were the Small Faces and the Faces nominated together? Yes, they overlapped band members, but so have many other bands over the years. We joked about this on Twitter when the nominations came out, but are we going to see joint Rage Against the Machine / Audioslave nominations? Pearl Jam / Mother Love Bone? Should Guns N’ Roses have waited to be nominated with Velvet Revolver? These are ridiculous examples, but the Small Faces / Faces has now set a precedent for this kind of thing. Bizarre. (Maybe the Baseball Hall of Fame will combine the stats of all of the Molina brothers and put them in the Hall of Fame together.)

Look, when you call yourself a “Hall of Fame,” that means something. It should be something for artists to aspire to achieve. It should deserve respect from fans. But you can’t continue to erode people’s confidence in the institution by bending the rules and looking the other way when there are obvious conflicts of interest without causing damage to your institution. Take a longer view of things. The Hall of Fame should become even more important as music becomes less of a communal experience.

We’re already looking at artists eligible for the 2037 induction ceremony. Will anyone still care?

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How to Improve the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Process

The fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are on the 2012 ballot** for the Rock Hall the same year their manager, Cliff Burnstein, gets added to the Nominating Committee raises some interesting questions about integrity of the nomination process. Was Burnstein allowed to nominate and vote for them during the nomination meeting? Was Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, able to vote for Bruce back in 1999? Even if an artist is a Rock Hall no-brainer, it seems fair to ask members of the Nominating Committee to abstain from lobbying for artists they have a direct financial interest with, especially with more borderline candidates. This is most relevant for the record executives, publicists and managers on the Committee, rather than the critics and journalists. Repping an artist who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is undoubtedly more lucrative in the long run than one who is not.

**The Chili Peppers were also nominated two years ago (prior to Burnstein’s involvement with the Rock Hall) and are clearly strong Hall of Fame candidates, and it’s unknown if Burnstein was directly involved in getting the band on the ballot this year.

This is not a new problem for the Rock Hall Foundation, and they likely don’t see it as an issue. They have been facing accusations of bias since the Rock Hall’s birth and have never taken any steps to remove that perception.

If the Rock Hall wants to get serious about improving its perception with the public, we have some suggestions to improve the induction process:

  1. Term limits for Nominating Committee members (5-7 years). The prospect of new voices on the Committee would give hope for neglected artists.
  2. Allow the Nominating Committee members to speak about the process publicly.
  3. Publish rules for the nominating process and include something to address conflicts of interest.
  4. Make the list of Voting Committee members public.
  5. Hire an independent accounting firm to handle the vote counting like every other reputable awards show does.
  6. Publish complete voting statistics. We understand you don’t want to hurt artists’ feelings, but they will survive. It should be an honor just to be in the discussion for the Hall of Fame.
  7. Find a way to engage the fans. There are lots of ways to do this, but a simple way would be to create a fan vote for the last ballot position from four choices you provide. We don’t want the Rock Hall to turn into the Hard Rock Café anymore than you do.
  8. Stop being so secretive. You should have publicized the fact that Cliff Burnstein is now on the Nominating Committee. Be proud of who you are and what you are creating.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a fantastic museum and deserves an induction process worthy of it.
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Cliff Burnstein is the latest Rock Hall Nominating Committee Member

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Meet Cliff Burnstein, the newest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member. [Although the Rock Hall doesn’t publicize the members of the committee, Tom Lane recently learned from Dave Marsh that Burnstein had become a member this year.]

A few facts about Mr. Burnstein:

Cliff Burnstein is unquestionably qualified to help shape the Rock Hall and he should be a positive addition to the Nominating Committee.

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Terry Stewart explains the Rock Hall induction process

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum President, Terry Stewart, recently responded to a Duran Duran fan about why the band hadn't been inducted yet. The letter appears to be primarily a form letter, but it has been updated to include some interesting new information on the induction process.
Thanks for your comments. We receive literally thousands of emails every year like yours about hundreds of different artists. Consequently, part of this communication is a standard response as to how the induction process works. First of all, the only reason that Duran Duran have not been inducted is that they did not get enough votes to date to make the final ballot. OR, upon making the ballot, they did not get enough votes. There are no conspiracies and no one has veto power.
The Rock Hall has tried to convince everyone in recent years that Jann Wenner does not control the induction process nor is he even currently on the Nominating Committee. The rumors of bands being blackballed may have been true in the past, but don't seem to hold much water these days (e.g. Kiss was nominated this past year).
Please remember the following: Everyone personalizes everything about rock and roll when they are brought into the circle of discussion. This is another way of saying that many fans believe that their opinion is uniquely compelling and definitive. Without metrics (see below), the definition of "rock and roll," who is or was important, and who should be inducted is incredibly subjective.
Nice to hear them admit that it is in fact a subjective process.
As a result, our Nominating and Voting Committees are replete with Inductees (in fact, they are the largest bloc of voters). Someone has to decide, so we built our Voting Committee around the most qualified group possible: the living Inductees, which number around 400 at this time. Thus, folks like Bruce, Metallica, Clapton, Ozzy, Prince and the others are the difference makers. You may disagree, but being an Inductee makes a pretty good case for being the ones who choose.
There have been 234 artists inducted into the Rock Hall over the past 25 years (anyone know how many individuals total?). Subtract the deceased Hall of Famers, and Stewart puts the number of Hall of Fame voters at around 400. The Rock Hall sends out ballots to "more than 500 voters," so the voting really is dominated by Hall of Fame artists. While it's true that the majority of Voting Committee members are Hall of Famers, the 34-member Nominating Committee has just a handful of inductees as members, and they control who makes the final ballot.
With that overview, here’s how the process works. Nomination and induction into the Hall of Fame is not about popularity, records sales, which label the group is on, or anything other than the process below. Unlike baseball, football, basketball or hockey, statistics are not relevant. To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence. We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification for induction.
The often quoted criteria of "innovation and influence" may not be as important to the Nominating Committee as "unquestionable musical excellence" is, even though it's a much more subjective criteria.
Like it or not, the evaluation of these factors is highly subjective and can only be answered by the votes of our nominators and voters. In addition, even if an artist meets the influence/impact/innovation test, it doesn’t mean that they get inducted automatically. They still need to get the support of both Committees.
The hard part is getting nominated. The vast majority of artists who have been nominated eventually get inducted.
The entire nomination and induction process is coordinated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in New York City. Artists can be inducted in four categories: Performer, Early Influence, Non-Performer and Side-Men. The latter three are evaluated and decided by separate committees for each category.
[[ Leave those of us in Cleveland who run the Hall of Fame and Museum alone! It's those jerks in New York keeping your favorite band out, not us! ]]
Unlike the other three categories, the selection of Performers is a two-step process.

It begins with a Nominating Committee consisting of a diverse panel of living inductees, journalists, historians, noted musicians, industry heads, etc. In turn, those nominated are sent to a Voting Committee of about 600 people (all living inductees, journalists, historians, music industry management, musicians, etc.) around the world who vote. That said, candidates are reviewed and discussed relative to their impact, innovation and influence on this music that we broadly define as rock and roll. Gold records, number one hits, and million sellers are not appropriate standards for evaluation. Those receiving the highest number of votes and more than 50% of the votes cast are inducted into the Hall. Usually, this means five to seven new performing members each year.

This last paragraph seems out of date. The Rock Hall now predetermines how many inductees there will be each year, and therefore artists don't necessarily need more than 50% of the vote to get in.
Having said all this, I believe that all worthy candidates will be inducted, just not always when they or their fans deem timely. This phenomenon is not unique to us. The sports halls of fame have had many great stars that do not get inducted in their early years of eligibility or for many years to come.

Peace & Soul,

Rock & Roll!

Terry Stewart

President

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Comment on this story over on the Induction Criteria page.
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The 2010 Rock Hall Ceremony and beyond

The latest issue of Rolling Stone has a wrap up article about the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. There are some interesting quotes from some of the attendees regarding the future of the Rock Hall (the article is not currently posted online).

Pearl Jam bought a table at the ceremony so they could watch The Stooges finally get inducted after being nominated eight times. Some quotes from Eddie Vedder:

"The Stooges are exactly what the Hall of Fame needs more of... [They are] the true embodiment of rock & roll... One can only hope that the voting committee starts boning up on their Black Flag, X, Sonic Youth and Fugazi to keep it going in the right direction... Iggy's speech was right on. Appreciative, but delivered with the back of his hand. If it hadn't taken so many years, Ron Asheton would've been there."

Vedder has his eye towards the future of the Rock Hall, hoping the bands that influenced him will get inducted before he does (Pearl Jam is first eligible for the 2017 induction ceremony). Vedder also calls out the Rock Hall's 500+ member voting committee which consists of people in the music industry, including the past inductees. And this is where the generational rub comes to a head. In this same Rolling Stone article, it casually mentions that the members of Genesis "had barely heard Phish's music" when they were told Phish would be inducting them at the ceremony. These same members of Genesis are now Rock Hall voters. This isn't to suggest that the members of Genesis aren't qualified to vote for the Rock Hall, it's just that they apparently don't connect with a later generation of artists, even one as huge as Phish. And unlike the Nominating Committee, which at least attempts to get younger by occasionally adding new members, the Voting Committee will always be dominated with aging rock stars who likely prefer their peers and influences rather than their followers.

One last nugget from this article that we didn't catch in the ceremony: It mentions that Paul Shaffer, the musical director for the Rock Hall ceremonies, was "honored for his 25 years of Hall of Fame service." Well deserved.

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Roger Friedman: Rock Hall considering changing eligibility period to 20 years

Roger Friedman reports for the Hollywood Reporter that Jann Wenner is considering changing the eligibility rules for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by reducing the eligibility period by five years. Currently artists are eligible for the Hall of Fame 25 years after releasing their first record, but under the new proposal, it would be reduced to 20. Friedman reports that Wenner is motivated by the weak group of artists becoming eligible over the next few years.
The new idea is to change the charter so that it only takes 20 years to get in. That would move up a lot of acts on the ballot that are more current and carry some name value, which would be good for TV rights. Believe it or not, the following would then be eligible for the 2011 ceremony: Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Kid Rock and Smashing Pumpkins. Also a possibility right away: Keith Richards as a solo artist.

If the Rock Hall chooses to change the rules next year, it could potentially create the best ballot the voters have seen in many years. It would also make it much more challenging for often-nominated-but-never-inducted artists such as Chic and Joe Tex to get in.

Friedman correctly reported months ago that David Geffen would be inducted this year as a Non-Performer, so clearly Friedman has sources close to the Rock Hall's power players. In this report, Friedman's sources say that Wenner is only "considering" this rule change, so it's certainly not a done deal. It seems to us that the decision may not be finalized until this summer just before the Nominating Committee meets to determine the 2011 ballot. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we'll be preparing to update our database of eligibility dates...

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2010 Rock Hall Nomination Details Revealed

Writing on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame blog yesterday, Jim Henke, Rock Hall Chief Curator and Nominating Committee Member, revealed some interesting tidbits about this year's nominations, but not the actual nominees.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee – a diverse group made up of about 30 rock and roll experts, including music executives, music journalists, historians and even a couple of musicians – met in New York City this past Wednesday to compile the ballot for the next Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee election.
The only news here is that the Nominating Committee met on September 9th. Next, Henke explains the nomination process:
Each member of the [Nominating Committee] can suggest up to three potential nominees. In addition, there are three subcommittees – one on progressive rock and heavy metal, one on hip-hop and one on early rock and rollers and rhythm & blues – that convene prior to the big meeting and suggest potential nominees in those categories.
Henke confirms that the Rock Hall is utilizing the genre subcommittees again this year after they were introduced last year. By acknowledging the specific groups, one could reasonably deduce that the there will be at least one nominee on the ballot from each of the three subcommittees.

The big question here is why is the Rock Hall lumping together prog rock and heavy metal? What do they have in common other than the fact they're both underrepresented in the Hall of Fame? It's possible that the genre subcommittee members are fluent in both metal and prog, so they're just combined into one, but that still seems strange. Metallica filled this slot on the ballot last year, leaving the prog rock selection, Yes, without a nomination. Perhaps that changes this year.

Henke also divulges new criteria for becoming a Hall of Famer:

The only official eligibility requirement is that an artist must have released his or her first record at least 25 years ago. Beyond that, the committee evaluates the influence an artist has had on rock and roll, the longevity of the artist’s career and the overall importance. Unlike sports halls of fame, where one can point to the statistics an athlete compiled over the course of his career, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not based on numbers. In fact, record sales play a very small role in determining who is nominated. As a result, it’s all very subjective. And all of the members of the Nominating Committee are very passionate about their suggestions.
The key line there is that the Nominating Committee evaluates, "the longevity of the artist's career and the overall importance." We have never officially heard that "longevity" is part of the induction criteria, but it's always been a part of our "induction chances" calculations.

Henke continues with more news about this year's ballot:

This year the committee members discussed a very wide range of artists – from those whose careers began in the Fifties to some who are still very active. Overall, more than 50 potential nominees were discussed and debated. Then a ballot listing all of the artists was distributed and each member got to vote for their top 15 artists. That vote determined who will go on the ballot, which is then distributed to the Hall of Fame’s voters – a group that includes all living inductees, as well as various executives, journalists, historians and the like. In the end, 12 artists made the ballot, and five will ultimately be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I can’t say who the nominees are, but I was very happy with the results – it’s a very diverse group of artists in terms of musical styles, eras, etc. But stay tuned – the nominees’ names will be made public soon.
The Rock Hall had nominated just nine artists the previous three years, so bumping up to 12 this year is a welcome development, and one we have been lobbying for.

Look for the official announcement of the nominees to happen within the next couple of weeks.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nomination and Induction Process

Joel Peresman, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame president and CEO, opened up to MSNBC about the induction process. Read our take here.
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Wanda Jackson doesn't get to choose her presenter

Wanda Jackson is a 2009 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the "Early Influence" category, and apparently that distinction means she doesn't get to pick who will give the speech in her honor.
Q: Who's doing your induction speech? Don't you get to choose?

A: We thought the artist would have that option. We found out in these special categories - see, I'm in "early influence" - the people that head up these various categories are the ones who choose who's the presenter for each artist, so I put in my request for who I wanted. Elvis Costello was the first one who became an advocate for me. He wrote a rather stinging letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but anyway he and Bruce Springsteen have spoken out for me.

We would be surprised if doesn't turn out to be Elvis Costello who inducts her. As Jackson mentions, Costello was one of the squeaky wheels that got the Nominating Committee's attention. Jackson's husband / manager also started actively campaigning for her "a few years ago," which might explain how she received her first nomination in 2005 after being overlooked for 20 years.
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Toto told Jann Wenner to "stick it up his ass"

Toto and Rolling Stone magazine don't get along. Steve Lukather, the guitarist from Toto, spoke about their relationship with the magazine, Jann Wenner and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Nightwatcher's House of Rock Interviews:
NHOR : I don't see [MTV] as being that interested in music anyway anymore for the most part...

SL : No, but it's just ironic because we were the 4th video ever played on MTV when they first started. We were there from the beginning. And they just shit on us. We also were the only band in history to turn down being on the cover of Rolling Stone. We told Jann Wenner to stick it up his ass.

NHOR : I guess that answers the question on whether or not Toto will ever be in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame...

SL : We were never getting in anyway. It's amazing some of the people they're letting in now, and the people who have been left out. They put Patti Smith in there but not Deep Purple? What's the first song every kid learns how to play?

NHOR : "Smoke On The Water"...

SL : And they're not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? The glaring omissions...Yes, Genesis...they don't like prog rock. They don't like anybody who has any chops, basically. All of the people who SHOULD have been in there were in the first couple years. It's not like the baseball hall of fame, where it's based on stats. If you have the stats, they don't have to like you. You deserve to be in there based on what you brought to the table. But I'm not going to get too much into it, because ultimately it's a boring conversation. You know what? I've got awards. I've got two houses full of gold records. I've got to start taking them down because it starts becoming ridiculous, like my own personal mausoleum. I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool to be in there, but at the same time, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has lost its cool because of the glaring omissions. Alice Cooper's not in there? They were the first theatrical band out there. When I was in junior high school, I went from 8th grade until 9th grade listening to 'School's Out.'

I could make up my own hall of fame that would have more credibility. It's also like Rolling Stone's 'Top 100 Guitar Players', where they leave anybody out who has any chops. Somebody even wrote a letter to them, "How come Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Lukather etc. aren't on there, and Kurt Cobain is?" Kurt Cobain was a great songwriter, but a great guitar player? I don't think so. Eddie Van Halen at #78? Gimme a break. (Laughs)

I'm just happy to have a job. I'm a musician, not a rock star. Anybody can be a rock star, apparently. It's manufactured, hyped, and that's how you become a rock star. But if you can really play, then people are actually threatened by you.

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Grand Funk Railroad Snubbed for "Political" Reasons

Founding member of Grand Funk Railroad, Mark Farner, had some strong words to say about his band's exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a recent chat with Nightwatcher's House of Rock Interviews:

NHOR : What do you feel at this point are the chances of Grand Funk Railroad ever getting into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame? Why do you think the band isn't in there already?

MF : I think it's political. I think it's because we haven't obtained the brown ring around the mouth from kissing somebody's hind end. That's not who I am. I'm not going to bow to that god. It's only important to me at all for the fans, for the sake of the fans. From that viewpoint, yes. Because it is something which is supposed to be representative, but it's the same thing as where the Congress of the United States is supposed to be representative of us by coining and controlling the money. But that ain't happening either.

Future Rock Hall currently gives Grand Funk Railroad just a 12% chance at future induction.
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Dave Marsh casts his 2009 Rock Hall ballot

The incomparable Tom Lane e-mails in with this interesting news:
On Dave Marsh's weekly Sirius XM show, "Kick Out The Jams", he picked 5 names he would be voting for on this year's ballot:  Chic, War, Jeff Beck, Stooges, and Run DMC.

Marsh also said that this year's ballot was "flawless" and made a remark about how he opposed the Beastie Boys getting into the Hall.

He also said that he wouldn't vote for Metallica because they are going to get in anyway. 

Marsh's belief that the ballot is "flawless" is probably not shared by anyone else outside of the Nominating Committee, but that's great he's happy with the choices he helped make.

Four out of Marsh's five selections are currently leading Future Rock Hall's 2009 ballot, so he may have a chance to see many of his choices inducted in Cleveland on April 4, 2009.

Thanks, Tom. Check out Tom's top snubbed artists here.

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Alice Cooper and the Rock Hall

Earlier this year, Alice Cooper talked to Craig Ferguson about his exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now his former drummer, Neal Smith (now a "rockin' realtor"), is speaking out about Alice and the politics of the Hall of Fame in a chat with Nightwatcher's House of Rock Interviews:
NHOR : Alice was quoted earlier this year as saying he kind of likes the idea of being blackballed from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Do you think Alice really thinks that, and would you agree with his comments, that it's more of an honor not to be in there than to actually be in there?

NS : Well, I know a little bit about the politics around the hall, so I'm not really at liberty to say anything about that. I think whatever he thinks are his thoughts and opinions. I would like to be in there, but the way I look at it the true band Alice Cooper pissed people off way back then, and apparently we are still doing it. When you think of the things we started then, there's a whole vein of music which didn't exist before us. Everybody from Kiss all the way up to Marilyn Manson. All the bands in between in that vein were one way or another inspired by Alice Cooper. I read, and hear things from people all the way up to this day all the time, that they wouldn't be playing an instrument if it weren't for us.

Steve Vai, the first album he ever learned from beginning to end was 'Love It To Death'. A lot of great musicians, and just that whole vein of music, the shock rock thing, or whatever you want to call it was brought upon by us. And to totally ignore that, and pass it over year after year just surprises me, that's all. My spin on it is if we're blackballed, who needs 'em anyway. I look at it as we're still ruffling feathers after all this time. Somewhere, somebody doesn't set easy with us. But you know what? When we were with Warner Brothers, they were ready to cancel our contract after every single album. We had to renegotiate after every single one. They kept thinking it was a fluke. The only ones who believed in us were us and Shep Gordon, our manager. That was it, and our fans. We had to cut a demo for 'Love It To Death'. It was always a fight and a struggle for us. So the fact that somewhere somebody doesn't like us, that's fine with me. (Laughs)

NHOR : Well, let's face it Neal, the Alice Cooper Band was never one of Rolling Stone Magazine's darlings, which seems to be a criteria to being inducted...

NS : I always said that, the magazine's not called, "Alice Cooper", it's called "Rolling Stone". And bearing in mind with what you just brought up, and I'm not going to elaborate on it much more, but we're talking about that whole San Francisco area there. Which does have a lot of influence on what goes on with the Hall. It's all politics, and there's nothing wrong with The Talking Heads, but when I saw that they got in I said, "You've got to be kidding me". I know they had a couple of hit songs but I can't even really tell you what they are. The Alice Cooper 'Greatest Hits' album is really a greatest hits album. How many records did they sell? I don't know.

I think they should start up a Shock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The Hall Of Fame's cool, I've been there, and it's got some great stuff. The majority of the people who are in there certainly deserve to be in there and it's cool for the fans. And the other question is, if it happens, are they going to put Alice in by himself, or the whole band? That would be the biggest kick in the head for us, if they'd put Alice in by himself. Actually, I've had a couple people I've talked to from the Hall in New York, and they've said, "Believe me, everybody knows the original band was THE band".

NHOR : Do you think that Alice would actually accept an induction without the rest of the original band being voted in as well?

NS : He didn't have any problem accepting the Alice Cooper star on Hollywood Boulevard, did he? He actually had the balls to tell me, "I actually thought of you guys". You thought about us? Gimme a break. We used to walk up and down that street starving every day, day after day, thinking someday we'd have our name there, and it gets there and you're by yourself. That's awful nice you thought about us. I think it's great that it's there, but sometimes it's better to say nothing than to say something that stupid. That band was put together through the blood, sweat and tears of 5 people. Each one of them deserves 100% credit, not just one getting 500% of the credit. That's the reason Dennis is writing a book and I'm writing a book. It's just a factual documentation of what we went through.

Smith's dig at the Talking Heads makes him seem out of touch with what the Hall of Fame is about, but he brings up an interesting point about whether or not the entire group would be inducted, or just Cooper himself.
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Seymour Stein is a "doo-wop fanatic" -- Should there be term limits for Nominating Committee members?

Longtime Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member, Seymour Stein, described himself in 2001 as a "doo-wop fanatic," who was working hard to get the artists from his youth fully represented in the Hall of Fame.
Stein, an avowed "doo-wop fanatic" who identifies heavily with the music of his youth, feels like there's "quite a bit of catch-up to do." He cites the Hollies, Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty, Gene Pitney, Percy Sledge, Chuck Willis and panoply of doo-wop acts such as the Five Satins ("In the Still of the Night") and the Penguins ("Earth Angel") as acts that should be full-fledged inductees. "I don't want to forget artists from the '50 and '60s, but not at the expense of worthwhile artists from the '70s," he said. "I don't want to sound like George Bush, but I don't want to see anyone left behind. But I really mean it, hence the difference."
Of those eight artists he listed there, Lee, Pitney, and Sledge (one of the most controversial inductions, by the way) have been honored since that interview. And since Stein is still on the Committee, and he doesn't want to leave anyone behind, you can bet he will join Steven Van Zandt in trying to get the Hollies in.

Stein goes on to make a prediction, that is laughable in hindsight:

Stein does not predict that any artist, whether in 2001 or in future years, will ever sail into the hall the first year they are eligible, the way, say, the Beatles did in 1988, or Bruce Springsteen did in 1999. He cited a random selection of artists, from James Taylor to Earth, Wind & Fire to Gene Vincent to Parliament-Funkadelic to Joni Mitchell to the Bee Gees to the Velvet Underground, who waited a few, or many, years for induction.
Presumably Stein felt that no other artists will ever live up to the standard of the Beatles or Springsteen. But his theory about first ballot Hall of Famers was proved wrong the very next year when Tom Petty, Talking Heads and the Ramones were all inducted in their first year of eligibility. In fact there have been 11 first ballot Hall of Famers since Stein made his prediction, Madonna being the most recent example.

Stein and Van Zandt have been rather candid about their biases in favor of the music of their youth. At some point, don't you have to close the book on that chapter in rock and roll history and start recognizing some of the gaping holes in later periods? How many groups from the 50's and 60's still need to be inducted before the award is completely stripped of its prestige?

As a way to keep a fresh perspective on the Rock Hall, perhaps there should be term limits for the Nominating Committee members. There is little doubt that each of the members, past and present, have been qualified to help shape the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But you can imagine what happens when the same group meets year after year: At the committee meeting, the member nominates a few artists, they get tossed around and ultimately get rejected or put on the ballot. The next year, the committee member tries again with the same names that didn't make it, and tries to wear down the other members into submission. A five year term limit would allow committee members ample opportunity to advocate for their favorite artists, but wouldn't let them stay so long that their perspective gets outdated.

So, are term limits a good idea? Is five years the right amount of time? Let's hear it in the comments.

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Steven Van Zandt: The 1980s were a "bloated era of musical horror"

"Little Steven" Van Zandt, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member, let loose his opinions about the musical legacy of the 80's. While espousing the awesomeness of the video game Rock Band, and how it will create new drummers, he says, "Let this be the deathblow to those evil drum machines hanging around from that bloated era of musical horror we refer to as the '80s."

Van Zandt has already let it be known that he will be pushing for more '60s bands to be inducted into the Rock Hall next year. But these statements leave the impression that he will actively oppose bands who incorporated electronic music into their sound during the '80s (or even beyond). Not exactly what the Rock Hall was hoping for when it restructured the Nominating Committee two years ago.

Thanks, Casper.

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Nominating Committee member to pen memoir

Robert Hilburn, the former pop music critic of the L.A. Times and current Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member, is working on his "deeply personal and highly opinionated memoir."
Hilburn... will recount his personal ties with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, John Fogerty, Prince, Kurt Cobain, Stevie Wonder, Ice Cube, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Jack White, and Eminem.
Hopefully Hilburn will squeeze in some juicy tales from the Nominating Committee meetings, but given the secrecy surrounding the Rock Hall, that's seems unlikely. Look for the book in 2009.
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Joe Levy Leaves Rolling Stone

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee member Joe Levy has left his position as executive editor of Rolling Stone to become editor-in-chief of Blender.

Whether or not Levy remains on the Rock Hall Nominating Committee after leaving Jann Wenner's nest remains to be seen.

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From the Shortlist to the Ballot

Every year since 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee has waded through the names of hundreds of artists in search of the elite few that will be voted on for induction. By counting the artists who have been inducted in the "Performer" category, and the artists who have been previously considered but not inducted, the Committee has narrowed down the history of rock and roll to essentially 300 names. Roughly half of those artists (154) are now in the Hall of Fame. But out of the other 146 names the Committee has discussed, only 31 have made it to the final ballot to be voted on by the 500+ member Voting Commitee. (Unsurprisingly, three of those 31 are up for induction again in 2008 -- Mellencamp, Chic, and the DC5.)

The Nominating Committee has gradually become more and more controlling over the process -- up through 2005, there would routinely be 15 or 16 names on the final ballot, but it was reduced it to just nine artists last year. The Voting Committee now has fewer names to consider, and they're often ones they have seen many times before. It's likely there are many voters who would love the chance to decide between Alice Cooper and Tom Waits; The Monkees and Devo; or Genesis and Roxy Music, but they haven't been given that opportunity due to the more restricted ballot.

Why not give the voters more choice? After all, the Voting Committee has succeeded in rejecting only 31 names in 22 years. They should be given the chance to reject many more.

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Comment of the week

This comment was posted by Matt on 9/29/07 in the 2008 Nominees thread. It has a number of astute observations about the realities of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction process:

From paying special interest to the nomination process over the past few years, I've been able to draw several conclusions about the selection process.

If you have any insight or theories of your own, please share.

THINGS THAT WILL WORK IN YOUR FAVOR

1. Being a larger than life figure.
The Rock Hall wants to grab headlines, and will need to fill seats and get ratings from the ceremony. Madonna is an enduring pop culture phenomenon, and can be seen as the home run, marquee talent. Only Michael Jackson is really comparable here.

2. Being critically acclaimed AND commercially successful.
Critics and the masses are two distinct camps. If you have favor with both, your chances are excellent. Beastie Boys have sold very well over the course their career--Licensed to Ill was the top-selling rap album of the 80's, and check the wikipedia entry for its accolades. Paul's Boutique, huge critical favorite. Ill Communication topped the charts.

3. Continued success and longevity.
Just because your band is still together, doesn't mean it's relevant. If you've been in the game for decades, and get radio airplay with artists 20 years younger, you have a great chance. Avoid being labeled a nostalgia act.

4. Survival in the face of changing tastes.
Grunge destroyed hair metal. Bands like U2 and R.E.M. adapted and even elevated their careers. Survive cultural sea changes.

5. Have friends in high places.
If you're buddies with Jann Wenner, Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen or Dave Marsh, you will probably get in.

6. Be old.
The selections are made by crusty dinosaurs. Sonic Youth didn't stand a chance with this committee.

7. Affirmative Action.
The nominating committee will always select several black candidates of wildly varying qualifications. Soul, Blues, R&B, Funk clearly have favor over some guitar-based, predominantly white sub-genres.

THINGS THAT WON'T WORK IN YOUR FAVOR

1. Being prog, hard rock or metal.
Clearly these are not committee favorites. Much of the artists classified as such are boring, pretentious, overly indulgent, or polarizing. Still, many others are great. But it doesn't really matter.

2. Lots of filler.
If you have several essential recordings, but lots of misfires, your legacy will be watered down. Concise and impactful careers, and consistenly good artists will be viewed more highly than low-percentage hitters (3 strikeouts for every home run).

3. Confusing history.
Deep Purple probably has 30 current and former members, denoting by Mach I, II, III, IV, V etc. You do you nominate, who do you exclude? Nobody, it makes your head hurt just thinking about it.

4. Being overtly commercial at the expense of your art.
Bon Jovi and Journey, you lowest common denominator power balladeers, you don't stand a chance.

5. Enemies in high places.
Jann Wenner hates the Monkees. So they won't get in. Dave Marsh hates Kiss, so they won't get in either.

Can anyone think of any others?

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Rock Hall Nominating Committee revealed

If you ever wanted to know who holds all the cards at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, wonder no longer. The members of the 2007 Nominating Committee are now listed at Future Rock Hall.

As expected, the Nominating Committee contains a selection of rock critics and historians, music industry insiders, current and former Rolling Stone writers, and a few musicians. What is perhaps noteworthy about the list is that four of the 32 members come from a strong hip hop background (Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five became the first ever rap group inducted into the Rock Hall in 2007). And if that weren't evidence enough that the Rock Hall has officially opened its doors to rap, Jay-Z is on the Rock Hall Board of Directors.

Notable for his absence from the list is Rolling Stone editor and publisher Jann Wenner, who is the Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

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A Rock Hall Voter speaks out

In a recent column, Jon Bream, a music writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a member of the Rock Hall voting committee, criticizes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction process as well as the current crop of inductees. Bream believes that the Rock Hall isn't selective enough and that the whole process could use more transparency.
In the past 15 years, the Rock Hall has enshrined 97 performers, while the Baseball Hall admitted only 22 players. A key reason is the way voting is conducted.

To make it to Cooperstown, N.Y., a baseball player must get at least 75 percent of the votes, cast by writers who have covered the sport for at least 10 years. To get into Cleveland's Rock Hall, an act needs only 50 percent of the votes.

More than 600 music industry experts (including me) receive ballots -- and don't ask me what the criteria is to be a voter. Moreover, vote totals are not announced, unlike the Baseball Hall, which discloses the results from its 575 or so ballots.

While baseball players can be weighed statistically, a potential Rock Hall of Famer is supposed to be measured by "the influence and significance of the artist's contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock 'n' roll." That's totally subjective, which explains why such lesser acts as the Dells and Percy Sledge are in, and John Mellencamp and Luther Vandross are not.

The rock nominees are chosen by a committee of music-business insiders that, in the past, has included legendary producer Phil Spector, Best Buy exec Gary Arnold and Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn. Their choices often reek of elitism. Stars who have never even made the ballot include Neil Diamond, Kiss, the Moody Blues, the Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, Journey, Steve Miller Band, Genesis, Linda Ronstadt, Rush, Yes, Heart, Peter Frampton, Jimmy Buffett and Alice Cooper. That sounds like a Classic Rock Hall of Fame right there.

The identity of the "600 music experts" is one of the many mysteries of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction process. Other than the previous inductees who get to vote, it is unknown who constitutes the balance of the committee. The voters are kept a secret, "even from one another, to prevent vote politicking."

Are there any other voters who want to step out of the shadows to either support or criticize the process? Contact us.

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Ahmet Ertegun, Founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Dies at 83

Ahmet Ertegun, a founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, died on Thursday at the age of 83. From Mr. Ertegun's bio:
Ahmet was a founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as chairman of its governing foundation. In recognition of his contributions to popular music, he was himself elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Museum’s main exhibition hall in Cleveland bears his name.
Much more on this true legend at the Atlantic Records website and Wikipedia.
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What exactly does it take to get inducted?

The good folks at JoeLong2Cleveland (who are trying to get Joe Long of the Four Seasons inducted into the Rock Hall with the founding members), have posted a letter from Terry Stewart, the President of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The letter explains how the Rock Hall process theoretically works:
Nomination and induction into the Hall of Fame is not about popularity, records sales, which label the group is on, or anything other than the process below. The love for, the evaluation of, and the impact of any artist are subjective questions to be answered by the nominators and the voters. Unlike baseball, football, basketball or hockey, statistics are not relevant. Please read below:

The entire nomination and induction process is coordinated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in New York City. Individuals can be inducted in four categories: Performer, Early Influence, Non-Performer and Side-Men. The only formal criteria for the performance category is that an artist has to have had their first record 25 years ago. That said, candidates are reviewed and discussed relative to their impact on this music that we broadly call rock and roll. The innovation and influence of these artists is also critical. Gold records, number one hits, and million sellers are really not appropriate standards for evaluation.

The formal selection of Performers begins with an extensive panel of journalists, historians, previous inductees, noted musicians, industry heads, etc. In turn, those nominated are sent to a committee of more than 800 people around the world (journalists, historians, music industry management, all previous inductees, musicians, etc.) who vote. Those receiving the highest number of votes and more than 50% of the votes cast are inducted into the Hall. Usually, this means five to seven new performing members each year. So you can see the road to being inducted is an arduous one and for the most part, removed from the realm of influences or politics.

The key phrase in there is "innovation and influence." If that doesn't describe the artist you support, it's probably unlikely they'll make it in. It's also interesting to note that they actively reject record sales data as a criteria for induction.
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The Sports Guy's Restructuring of Halls of Fame

One of the major problems that people have with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the idea that legendary artists such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones are in the same category as lesser Hall of Famers like ZZ Top and Percy Sledge. Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy, recently proposed an idea for restructuring Halls of Fame, using various athletes as examples:
Halls of Fame [could be] restructured like pyramids. We'll assign each elected player to a level, with the shakiest picks (the Phil Rizzuto types) on the first floor; solid guys (the Terry Bradshaw types) on the second; no-brainers (the Wade Boggs types) on the third; defining superstars (the Tom Seaver types) on the fourth; and the pantheon guys (The Babe, MJ and the like) in the penthouse.

I once pitched this idea in a column about the Baseball Hall of Fame, but why couldn't every sport adopt it? Imagine how fun the voting would be. And how cool the buildings would look. And the goosebumps you'd get as you climbed to the next level.
It's pretty easy to see how this could be applied to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (heck, the logo for the Rock Hall is a pyramid already). Providing different levels of induction would provide a way to separate the generation defining artists from the ones that maybe sold tens of millions of albums but didn't have a lasting impact on rock and roll.
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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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Does Rap belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

The question of rap and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame may be the most important issue the Hall needs to address in the coming years. Critics of the Hall have been wrestling with this issue but there doesn't seem to be a consensus. Rock fans are also split on whether artists like Eminem and Jay-Z belong in the same conversation with Nirvana and Guns N' Roses, as reflected by the voting on this site.

First, let's tackle the definition of "rock and roll", because many fans get hung up on the idea that artists who don't fit that description don't belong in the Rock Hall. Kurt Loder, the ageless MTV News icon, wrote on the subject in 2002:
What exactly is rock and roll? Having spent many years as a member of the Hall of Fame nominating committee (a position I no longer hold), I can tell you that endless hours have been devoted to this question, and it has never been definitively answered. Some critics — most notably the English writer Charlie Gillett, in his groundbreaking 1970 book, "The Sound of the City" — have argued that rock and roll is, if not "dead," at least historically complete, and now a part of the past.
If "rock and roll" as a genre is dead, that helps explain how bands like Black Sabbath (heavy metal), the Bee Gees (disco/soul) and the Ramones (punk) can get inducted without sounding like Chuck Berry. The list of subgenres in the Hall under the "rock" umbrella is incredibly diverse and has clearly expanded outside the strict definition of "rock and roll". So why should the Rock Hall draw the line at rap and hip hop?

The Rock Hall's primary function is "to recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll." There is no question that hip hop has heavily influenced today's rock artists -- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, and countless others combine rap and rock seamlessly. Turntables and sampling have their roots in early rap, but are now ubiquitous in popular music. You can't understand popular music from the last 20 years without hip hop. That needs to be documented in the Hall of Fame.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation (who nominates the artists) has shown a recent willingness to open their doors to rap by nominating Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five in 2005 and 2006, though they didn't receive enough votes to get inducted. The Rock Hall Museum has also hosted speakers like Chuck D and held exhibits devoted to hip hop. After all, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also an active museum and they want to expand their visitors to hip hop fans.

This question will certainly be answered definitively in the next couple of years when rappers like the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy all become eligible for induction.

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Do petitions help get bands into the Rock Hall?

There are legions of fans out there who are upset that their favorite band hasn't been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet. Fans of artists such as Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Journey, and even "Weird" Al Yankovic have all started petitions and websites urging the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation to induct them. But does it actually do any good? This anecdote from a former Rock Hall board member is discouraging:
During my second year on the committee, I received a petition signed by 5000 fans of the Moody Blues requesting that the group be considered for nomination. Personally I am not much of a fan, and neither, apparently, was anyone else on the committee (at least no one who would admit it). Still, I felt they were a legitimate contender for the nomination and that it was my duty to present the petition since so many people had taken a lot of time to put it together. I plunked it down on the conference table to a great roar of laughter from the assembled bigshots.

Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager, asked me if I personally was a fan of theirs. 'Not really,' I said. 'End of discussion,' he said.

On the other hand, I saw how Atlantic Records artists were routinely placed into nomination with no discussion at all, due to the large concentration of Atlantic executives on the committee. I saw how so-called critical favorites were placed into nomination while artists that were massively popular in their time were brushed off. I saw how certain pioneering artists of the 50s and early 60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in 70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren't in today — but Queen is.

I was finally kicked off the committee after writing a guest editorial for Billboard in which I criticized the Hall for its insider ways.

Almost ten years later nothing has changed.
But not all hope is lost. There's a new Rock Hall Foundation head, Joel Peresman, who recently said, "I think it would be interesting to have the fans participate [in the induction ceremony] somehow," so he may be open new ideas about the induction process.

In the meantime, if you're a huge fan of Neil Sedaka, the Cowsills, Donny Osmond, or countless other artists, it's good to know that there are other people out there who share your passion.
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FOXNews.com: "Rock Hall Rocked by Scandal"

That headline is a little misleading if you read the item (scroll down to the last story), but here is the money quote:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation is no place for the light of heart, that's for sure. The latest scandal involves 20-year chief Suzan Evans, the loyal administrator who despite much criticism has carried out Jann Wenner's whims without fail.

Now Evans has been rudely disposed by Wenner and replaced by an executive from Clear Channel Communications. So much for loyalty. But then again, Wenner is famous for hiring and firing magazine editors all the time. It's a wonder he took this long to dump Evans.

"Jann Wenner is a terrible person," says a foundation insider. "Suzan is very upset."
This contradicts the reports that came out when the transition was announced in June when Terry Stewart, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum president and CEO, said, "Suzan basically was ready to move on."

It's unclear how this will impact the future direction of the Hall of Fame, because as long as Jann Wenner is involved, it's hard to imagine things changing drastically overnight, since the Rock Hall is his baby.
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Is the Rock Hall about to get younger?

According to this post on Coolfer, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee is about to be replaced with new blood. The current chairman, Jon Landau says, "We are particularly interested in recruiting some fresh voices whose taste and love of music was formed more in the Eighties."

This could signal a major shift in the future direction of the Rock Hall. If the nominating committee becomes filled with music experts who came of age in the 80's (instead of the 50's and 60's like it is today), bands that haven't been able to break through the generation gap will now have a renewed hope of induction. Could the 2007 nominations be filled with artists who were ahead of their time like the Cure, Joy Division, Hüsker Dü, and the Replacements? Or maybe previously overlooked arena rock legends like Van Halen, Kiss, and Alice Cooper?

If this rumor is true, the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees could be the most exciting and controversial collection yet.

Nominations are traditionally released in mid-September. Stay tuned...
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