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Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Voting Process Needs Extreme Makeover

Joan Jett has been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a solo artist, even though she is best known for her pioneering career with the Runaways, who have yet to be inducted. It's one of the many anomalies of the voting process.  (Photo: Getty)

Joan Jett has been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a solo artist, even though she is best known for her pioneering career with the Runaways, who have yet to be inducted. It’s one of the many anomalies of the voting process. (Photo: Getty)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is becoming known as much for its snubs as it is for it’s latest inductees, raising questions, once again, about its decades-long string of baffling decisions by its quasi-secret voting members. The long list of snubs is infamous.

Let’s face it, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has about as much credibility at the moment as Kim Jong Un.

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If it were a person, The Rock Hall’s credit score would probably be in the low 600s (ng!). At this point, it might be a good idea to include a $100 Walmart gift card with each induction. At least then it would be worth something.

Whether or not you agree with the nominees this year, or last year, or the year before that, two things remain indisputable:

First, no one, not even the board, can figure out the voting process. It remains as complicated as a Stephen Hawking lecture.

Second, an unwritten rule must exist somewhere that requires legendary acts, such as KISS, Journey and Black Sabbath to be passed over at least three times before being allowed entry.

Acts are eligible 25 years after the release of their first album.

Keeping KISS and Black Sabbath out of Rock and Roll’s hall is akin to keeping Betty Crocker out of the Baking Hall of Fame. (KISS was finally inducted last year.)

The bewildering inclusions, and of course, infamous snubs, year-after-year, by the 600 or so “marginally well-informed” voting members has been the target of unprecedented criticism by journalists and fans, alike, since the hall’s inception in 1986.

Some sources say it comes down to the powers-that-be, founders Seymour Stein, Jann Wenner, Jon Landau and others. Either they like your or dislike you, making the process way too personal.

Others say it’s primarily due to the voting pool’s “lack of education.” Either way, the fact remains, the air of respectability and legitimacy surrounding the institution is about on par with a crazy, third world dictator.

As both a music fan and musician, I’m perplexed over how Joan Jett gets chosen over artists like The Pixies, The Cars, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Sex Pistols and Sonic Youth — to name but a few.

Her most ground-breaking work came with her early band, The Runaways, yet the group has not been inducted. Instead, Jett is being inducted as a solo artist.

The fact is, the lovely Ms. Jett didn’t even write most of her solo hits. Yet, there she is. I guess it means it’s okay to nominate cover bands?

Then, there’s the all-confusing induction of the artist but not the band. Or, the band but not the artist. Bruce Springsteen was just recently blessed by the committee to induct the E Street Band.

Sheesh. And, how do you finally give the nod to Sabbath but not Ozzy? The Police but not Sting?

Sting’s solo career, alone, is one to marvel simply because, unlike his peers–Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Elton John–Sting didn’t “reinvent” himself as an old fart.

He isn’t touring on the strength of hits he wrote back when John Lennon was alive and packaging it with a new, lackluster album only suitable for dentists’ offices.


David Fagin

David Fagin

David Fagin is a New York writer, producer and musician. His resume boasts an incredibly diverse range of contributions, from top news sites such as Salon, AOL News, Yahoo and The Huffington Post to a wide-range of humorous entities such as The Onion, The Muppets, Comedy Central, Dennis Miller, and Howard Stern. He is fascinated by technology and social media and the seemingly love/hate relationship we have with the changing world. He is also a food snob.

We can debate issues like these all day long, and everyone has their own opinions, and that’s fine. What’s not fine is the laundry list of deserving acts inexplicably denied year after year.

If the Rock Hall wishes to regain (if they ever had it to begin with) the credibility that will make both artist and fan revere a nomination with as much weight as an Oscar or an Emmy, (forget the Grammys, they’re a joke) they need to reinvent and redesign the entire voting process.

The goal would be to make artists like Bill Withers think twice before telling his wife to “take a message” when they call.”

A good start might be to give the fans more voting power than a single ballot out of 600, and take the process out of the hands of a select few.

To see the list of artists not yet nominated/inducted check out futurerocklegends online.

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