The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an institution co-founded by Rolling Stone magnate Jann Wenner and created as an outlet for voters to honor the most worthy musicians in the history of the music, from rock’s 1950s birth to its ever expanding evolution into tomorrow.
What the Rock Hall is, of course, is a snooty self-love pit wherein Wenner and his mainstream “tastemaker” pals converge to ostensibly hand out awards to acts and artists that adhere to their rigid definition of what’s “acceptable,” while actually just congratulating themselves and insulting fans and musicians alike.
Heavy metal, punk, hardcore, and other “threatening” elements are relentlessly snubbed by the Rock Hall. Pop, disco, and hip-hop acts are relentlessly embraced and rewarded.
Bearing that in mind, when it comes to Political Correctness, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may not have invented that particular cultural poison, but “p.c.” absolutely defines who they are, what they do and—most infuriatingly—who’ll they’ll invite to their ludicrous annual circle squirt.
Only after decades of pressure did the Rock HAll relent and admit Kiss and Rush, the two bands most beloved by millions of fans worldwide that were equally despised by the elitist big city journalists who make the decisions.
What follows here is a list of other artists who are in the same situation as Rush and Kiss were. Alas, no matter how big a stink the fans make, the hoity-toity HIOF establishment will never, ever let get past these “violators” past their guards and up onto the pedestals where they should be righteously hailed and revered.
Grand Funk Railroad
Why They Should Be In: Grand Funk Railroad charged out of the same revered Detroit proto-metal scene that also birthed Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, the Stooges, and the MC5 and, for a hot moment in the early ’70s, they were bigger than all of them combined. GFR sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles, and their first records remain rollicking party starters. Put one on now and see.
Why They’ll Never Be: Grand Funk proved to be one of the earliest acts to unite snooty, snobby rock critics who bemoaned the “dumbing down” of rock. Such hacks aimed to wrest the genre away from blue-collar Midwest fans in order to promote their more “highbrow” NY/LA/London favorites. Such chicanery plagued metal for decades, and it continues to keep popular—and populist—hard rock acts out of the Hall of Fame.
Stone Temple Pilots
Why They Should Be In: Stone Temple Pilot’s run of smashes throughout the ’90s is as kickass a succession of hard rock singles to ever bombard radio and/or MTV. It’s sort of like STP got the mainstream media access always denied to Kiss—and they used it to make killer music that introduced a generation to the fundamentals of punk and metal at the crossroads of rock and pop.
Why They’ll Never Be: STP initially got tagged as a rip-off of the critically revered Pearl Jam. They’ve since been blamed for all the “post-grunge” acts we’re always instructed to hate, such as Bush, Staind, Creed, and every unfunny Internet hack’s go-to punchline, Nickelback. In addition, it’s not entirely unreasonable that the Hall might be skittish about having unpredictable ex-STP frontman Scott Weiland at their big, fancy shindig.
Why They Should Be In: Styx formed all the way back in the early (as in pre-Beatles) 1960s, and evolved through psychedelia and prog to become one of the hugest acts on earth come the dawn of the ’80s.
Only a foolish foray into an overly theatrical production of their 1984 Kilroy Was Here derailed the Styx juggernaut—and even that was their own creative decision.
Styx sold millions upon millions of albums. Their songs remain in constant rotation on rock radio and turn up everywhere throughout the culture, and the band still sells out performances year-round, despite the fact that signature lead singer Dennis DeYoung departed years ago.
Why They’ll Never Be: “Mr. Roboto” is used as a joke to discredit this band’s stupendous, wide-ranging body of work. Even so, do you ever turn off “Mr. Roboto”? Do you ever not get excited and have fun singing along? True rock fans can happily admit that. The gargoyles in charge of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would never risk looking “uncool.”
Why They Should Be In: In the late ’70s and early ’80s Journey loomed so huge and rock fans embraced them so powerfully that the band got their own arcade video game! Aside from a platinum records galore, a canon of still omnipresent classic rock anthems on par with the very best, “Don’t Stop Believin’” alone may well fund the majority of the karaoke industry. In addition, Journey’s 2007 discovery of present frontman Arnel Pineda on YouTube is one of the great “dreams do come true” sagas in all of rock history.
Why They’ll Never Be: When SST records and other underground music outlets touted the line “Corporate Rock Sucks” back in the ’80s, the one group that embodied that concept most was Journey. It was a righteous and legitimately cool stance for punk bands, but mainstream tastemaker outfits (i.e., where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes from) just seized on the sentiment.
Big rock journals smeared and sneered at bestselling mainstream artists, while also in no way supporting or promoting any of the hardscrabble acts who had a right to that actual opinion.
Such hypocrisy has never gone away: the Hall of Fame still talks “cutting edge” while only actually inducting the safest and/or most ridiculous of artists.
Why He Should Be In: Bat Out of Hell is as monumental a slab of hard rock as any number of the “all time greatest” LPs that get consistently trotted out by the HOF.
The record still amazes—and sells massive numbers—as crazy, mesmerizing amalgam of Wagnerian opera, 1960s teenage tragedy pop, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, arena rock pomp-and-stomp, and the one-of-a-kind talents of songwriter Jim Steinman, producer Todd Rundgren, and, of course, the plus-size powerhouse belting it out way past the bleachers up front.
Factor in Meat’s Rocky Horror past and his Fight Club future and there’s no way this cultural touchstone alone shouldn’t land Mr. Loaf his own XXXL-sized display in the Hall of Fame proper.
Why He’ll Never Be: Again, Meat Loaf in general, and Bat in particular, are simply too popular. Meat sings of the same stuff that Bruce Springsteen does on Born to Run—cars, girls, open roads, small town desperation, and brink-of-adulthood kamikaze runs—but Bruce not only plays by the Hall’s rules, the flops who run the joint actually wish they were the Boss. Nobody there wishes he or she was Meat Loaf.
On top of that, lump in Loaf’s longstanding Ted Nugent affiliation and his occasional campaigning for Republican candidates and no “proper thinking” HOF ballot counter would ever let his name slip into the roster.
Why They Should Be In: In a world that seems to largely be abandoning rock bands (at least commercially), Bon Jovi’s popularity and stadium-packing potency has never waned over the course of more than thirty years. The very face—and coifs—of glam metal early on in the ’80s, Bon Jovi has just kept going, bringing joy to mammoth throngs of admirers early on and consistently evolving to keep their sound relevant to the ever changing tastes of the public.
Why They’ll Never Be: Except for the multiple millions who bought the band’s records and crammed into arenas all over the planet to see them perform, everybody hated Bon Jovi in the ’80s and ’90s (please, Internet, take note of that statement’s irony).
Headbangers resented the Jersey boys for their “co-opting” metal, and mass media blowhards battered them as, well, the Nickelback of their day.
Still, Jon and company never let up—nor did their fans—and Bon Jovi built a respectability through the decades, even coming to be embraced by the country music world. Regardless, count on none of that to impress the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ghouls.
Why They Should Be In: For all the posturing that the Rock Hall does proclaiming a love of punk, not one shred of that extends to hardcore, of which Black Flag is the form’s all-time preeminent practitioner.
The SoCall brutalizers carved out a tour circuit for unsigned and up-and-coming band that still exists. Founding guitarist Greg Ginn also launched SST Records expressly to create and distribute material by Black Flag and their groundbreaking brethren on the order of Hüsker Dü, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, and others.
Black Flag did all this in open defiance of the mainstream and held their supposed “authority” over music in contempt. Thus the SST motto: “Corporate Rock Sucks!”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a product of the very people that Black Flag were (properly) disparaging.
Why They’ll Never Be: The vast majority of RR HOF voters have likely never heard a single second of a Black Flag record. Plus they’d be scared spitless of Henry Rollins’ acceptance speech.
Why They Should Be In: From scrappy ruffians who transformed humanity by way of “metal played with punk attitude” to demigods who literally reduce hard-and-heavy rockers to tears over how much the band and their fans love one another, Iron Maiden is—on a global scale—the biggest heavy metal band of all time.
Why They’ll Never Be: In a race for the NWOBHM group most deserving of HOF induction and most likely to be ignored, Iron Maiden edges out Judas Priest by a spiked leather armband stud.
Priest may make it, as their hits continue to rotate on classic rock radio. Rob Halford’s sexual orientation also presents another opportunity for mainstream media blowhards to congratulate themselves for being “inconclusive” (what matters, of course, is Rob’s music—which rules—and not to whom he’s attracted, which is, like, who cares?).
So while Rock Hall voters most likely on t-shirts emblazoned with Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie, and they’ll throw horns when the group’s name comes up, don’t count on them to back those superficial moves up with votes. Actual music is always the least of their concerns.
Why They Should Be In: Slayer embodies extreme metal at its most—well, extreme. The L.A. thrash lords rewrote the rules and bazooka-blasted through the boundaries hard rock’s most far-flung outposts of barbarism and brutality.
From riff one, Slayer established themselves and the living, raging embodiment of heavy metal at its harshest and most merciless, hitting peaks of power to which that no other band has come close.
Slayer remains, and will always be, the “brand name” that gets dropped when anyone, anywhere brings up sanguine, savage, scorching metal.
Why They’ll Never Be: Slayer is too raw, too intimidating, too intense, and, overall, just too “evil” for the type of sops who made sure Madonna, Public Enemy, and Patti Smith go into the Hall before Black Sabbath, Kiss, and Deep Purple (and we’re still waiting on that last one).
Why He Should Be In: He’s Uncle Ted. He’s the Motor City Madman. He’s rock-and-roll set on fire and shot out of a cannon and on the hunt and freaking out the squares and blowing minds and outraging the Politeness Police and he got his own pinball machine in the ’70s and he shreds like no one else and he’s The Nuge, man! THE NUGE!
Why He’ll Never Be: Again: because he’s The Nuge Man, man! THE NUGE! No one human being—let alone performer—more explosively sums up everything that the dribbling ninnies who run the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame fear, despise, and work to obliterate than Theodore Anthony Nugent.
As Ted himself put it: “I am unable to back off critical issues and play brain-dead politically correct games so that fools can continue their embarrassing denial of historical and current truth and evidence. Real music lovers increase their love for my music as my absolutism and ballsiness increases!”
That is for sure.