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Wednesday, May 03, 2023

What's Going on at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2023 inductees. It is an "all-star class," as the Hollywood Reporter put it, including Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners, and Willie Nelson.

Wait a minute. Willie Nelson? How can it be that Willie Nelson, who just turned 90, isn't already in the Hall of Fame?  Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after releasing their first record. Willie's first release was in 1956, meaning that he has been eligible ever since the Hall was founded in 1983. 

The rapper Missy Elliott will be inducted in her first year of eligibility. Meanwhile, Willie Nelson has been passed over for 40 years. I am completely unfamiliar with Elliott's work, but it is hard to imagine it could be that much better or influential than Willie Nelson's.

Now, you might say that Willie doesn't actually play rock music, although he has certainly released some rock-a-billy tunes. And in any case, previous inductees include such non-rock acts as Chet Atkins, Joan Baez, Hank Ballard, Harry Belafonte, and Bob Wills -- and that's just the first two letters of the alphabet.

Comments are open for those who wish to express their outrage or, less likely, offer a rationalization.

Posted by Steve Lubet on May 3, 2023 at 01:19 PM | Permalink


There was an issue with Dolly Parton who declined or tried to decline saying she was not a rock and roll singer. They rejected her rejection and she went and made a rock and roll record. Dolly's sense of humor. Can't beat it. As the saying goes, Rhythm and blues hooked up with country music and the baby was called rock and roll., Silly to they and direct them. Gram Parson called his mix of soul, country and rock, "Cosmic American Music" and now there is a new category in the Grammys called "Americana" which I suppose is anything anyone wants it to be. Rolling Stones, WIlie Nelson, Brandy Carlisle and Lil Nas X. The Scots and Irish and Africans should claim the debt for Americana Music. After all, think about The Banjo.

Posted by: Jeff Rice | May 3, 2023 8:09:40 PM

Thanks, Richard. My mistake about Hank Ballard. I had him confused with so many other guys named Hank.

Posted by: Steve L. | May 3, 2023 5:48:16 PM

There are many legitimate beefs about the RnR Hall. Mine is the exclusion of almost ALL progressive rock groups who don't even get nominated (King Crimson, Procol Harum, Etc.) and some early doo-wop, etc. influencers as well. BTW, Hank Ballard falls into this latter category. He is certainly a "rock" musician in my view, as the composer of The Twist, Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go, etc.

Posted by: Richard Zitrin | May 3, 2023 5:26:51 PM

Non-Rock acts in the Hall (in both the performer and early influences categories): Miles Davis, Duane Eddy, Woody Guthrie, Herb Alpert, the Ink Spots, Mahalia Jackson, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Joni Mitchell, Bill Monroe, Jelly Roll Morton, Dolly Parton, Ma Rainy, Jimmie Rodgers, Pete Seeger, Bessie Smith, Hank Williams, Frank Zappa.

But oddly enough, not the Carter Family.

Posted by: Steve L. | May 3, 2023 1:58:12 PM

Equally crazy, Patsy Cline is not in the Hall -- and yes, there have been posthumous inductees, including Same Cooke and Billie Holiday, for example.

Posted by: Steve L. | May 3, 2023 1:33:28 PM

R&R Hall of Fame is kind of a joke anyway, right?

Posted by: Anon | May 3, 2023 1:30:39 PM

In the word of Willie via Patsy, “Crazy.”

Posted by: Alex Lubet | May 3, 2023 1:26:36 PM

(okay, you said that ... I might have refreshed or something too soon)

But, seems possible. Some country/music bias or something.

Posted by: Joe | May 3, 2023 1:21:47 PM

Maybe, he is not seen as "rock and roll."

Posted by: Joe | May 3, 2023 1:20:14 PM

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