Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs Rush...Again

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Photo by Jeff Balke
A couple years ago, I was sitting on the back porch at the Continental Club talking music with a fairly well known music writer who seemed to believe that anything with a big hook or the slightest inkling of musicianship beyond the garage band aesthetic was utter garbage. If he weren't such a nice guy, I would have taken his condescension personally, but I realized that it was just a quirk of his extremely focused view on music, one that is shared by a fair number of music critics.

Today, when I read the selections for this year's class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I wasn't surprised and, frankly, they are all deserving. But, as usual, there were many continued snubs of artists who should have long ago been enshrined. For baseball fans, it's the Jim Rice effect. These bands have to sit around and wait until the voters vote them in, sometimes years after they clearly deserve to be inducted.

In the case of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there is more to it. There is a very real bias towards certain kinds of music, particularly of the hard rock and progressive rock varieties, or what my writer friend and many of his contemporaries would call "shit."

Yes, there are many different artists who are deserving but not in. Craig Hlavaty, in his post about this year's entrants listed a bunch of them:

Devo, X, Love, The Replacements, Motörhead, Roxy Music, Can, Big Star, Cheap Trick, Peter Gabriel, New Order, Joy Division, Thin Lizzy. Link Wray. Dick Dale.

New York Dolls, The Cars, Electric Light Orchestra, Bon Jovi, Gram Parsons, Kraftwerk, The Flaming Lips, The Pogues, Tammi Terrell, Warren Zevon.

Randy Newman, T. Rex, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Smiths, Los Lobos, Dick Dale, Linda Ronstadt, Hall & Oates, Link Wray, The Monkees, MC5, Deep Purple.

You could add King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, Ozzy Osborne (solo), Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and a few others to demonstrate the clear dismissal of rock's heavier and more progressive artists as boring, cheesy, over-the-top and any other adjective you care to pull from your well worn thesaurus. But, there is no greater snub than Rush.

I make no bones about the fact that I grew up listening to Rush or that Geddy Lee is one of my biggest influences as a musician. I also freely admit that their music isn't for everyone; their lyrics -- especially pre 1980 -- can be overwrought, their arrangements can be insanely complicated and Lee's voice is often grating. Yet, by every measure, they are rock royalty.

They have sold more than 40 million records and only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have longer gold record album streaks. Long after the vast majority of their peers have stopped performing, they continue playing sold out shows across the globe. They have become a symbol of nerd culture, finding their way into movies like I Love You, Man and onto shows like The Colbert Report because the writers for those grew up with them.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that two of their members are considered near if not at the top of the greatest of all time in rock music at their instruments. And like jazz musicians, they continue to hone their craft actually improving their individual and collective technical and compositional skills while other classic rockers re-hash the same tired crap they've been playing for 30 years.

Pretty much any normal person with a brain who loves music thinks they should be in the HOF and yet, here we are, another year, another snub.

NPR's Mark Memmott wrote his own rant against the injustice of it all earlier today and included this:

Even the president and CEO of the Rock Hall concedes the band should be honored. "They simply haven't gotten enough votes to make the ballot," Terry Stewart told Cleveland's The Plain Dealer earlier this year. "I can't tell you why. Based on impact, influence, innovation, and excellence, they're worthy. I think it's just a matter of time before it happens."

You know why, Terry? It's because your voters are full of pompous, self righteous critics who personally dislike certain kinds of music and, as a result, block those who play it from what they deserve.

There are plenty of kinds of music and artists out there I don't like, but if they deserve to get into the Hall of Fame, they deserve it. Period. End of story. And Rush is at the top of that list.


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18 comments
Get Real!
Get Real!

Um, hello? What about Linda Ronstadt?She was The Queen of Rock in the 1970s who was the FIRST female solo artist to pack stadiums and was hands down the most successful female star of the 1970s, and whose career as a rock and pop singer has lasted from the late 1960s to today.Folk, Country, Country-Rock, Pop-Rock, Rock, New Wave, Big Band, Operetta, Broadway, Mariachi, Salsa, she’s done it all.The excuse used against her that she wasn’t a songwriter or covered other songs would exclude more than half of the inductees already in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.As far as innovation goes, David Bowie and Madonna and Prince and Elvis Costello are all lauded by the critics for changing styles and taking chances. When Linda does it, she’s criticized for being topical, superficial, fickle, dilletantish, and cashing in.It’s ridiculous that artists whom I like -U2, the Beastie Boys, The Pretenders, Springsteen, Guns ‘n Roses, et al, who came on the scene years after Ronstadt, are already in the hall, but not her.And other artists who are great in their own right but not rock ‘n rollers, like Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Diana Ross and Madonna, are in but Ronstadt isn’t.What does Rolling Stone have against female rockers of the 1970s and 1980s? Ronstadt, Heart, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Stevie Nicks are not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.What’s the problem?

relaxguy
relaxguy

The Rock HOF is about as worthwhile/legitimate as the Grammys, Rolling Stone, and the Heisman Trophy.

In other words, anyone with discerning taste shouldn't give a shit.

Tracey Hart
Tracey Hart

I have seen many, many concerts in my 44 years, I've seen some greats including AC/DC, Pink Floyd, watched Jimmy Page play his guitar with a bow (awesome BTW) just to name a few, and I have to say seeing Rush Time Machine Tour at an outside venue summer of 2010 was without a doubt the most memorable.  Watching Neil Peart is like seeing Jesus, Alex Lifeson is IMO one of the most underrated greats and Geddy Lee is amazing at whatever he does and he does a lot and he does it all spectacularly.  The band has had unbelievable ups and downs in their career, the entire synthesized era...atrocious!! but they knew it was horrible and they stopped and went back to what works for them.  Year after year their amazing contribution to the music world is ignored and one begins to wonder if the voters actually have ears or taste.  Not knocking any of the new inductees but really RHCP & Guns N Roses are in and Rush...yet again...overlooked.

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is nothing more than a cynical, nostalgia-driven, tourist trap.

Rush is still doing massive tours and putting out great music. They're still relevant. As such, maybe they don't belong.

Spiderjoe16
Spiderjoe16

Deep Purple's been eligible since 1968, still not in though, just one more example on how hypocritical the RARHOF is, in the long run it doesn't mean much though, it's the music itself that matters the most, the true fans realize this and the bands know what they've accomplished. 

MadMac
MadMac

There is most definitely a pro-American, pro-simplistic bias in the committee's assessment. If it's not easily accessible concepts, cords, and presentations, (kinda like white bread and Milwaukee beer) they don't get it or want anything to do with it. And no, I don't consider their inclusion of token rap acts or the Ramones as a sea change in Cleveland values.

Rush, (like most of those on the above, not-inducted list) sang about more than sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. And they weren't voted in by a committee dedicated to pushing the boundaries of 1957 sensibilities. Go figure. 

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

In Craig H's list, he mentions Link Wray twice.... which seems about right!

llcooper
llcooper

Jeff, maybe it's because Geddy swapped out his stage rig for several washing machines???

Gunsandtacos
Gunsandtacos

1. You are correct. Rush should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

2. So should Yes.

Gunsandtacos
Gunsandtacos

Spent the last hour and a half writing a damn essay. Scrapped it.

Recordfella
Recordfella

I'm not a Rush fan, but I understand the harsh words for the RRHOF.  I am against it based on principle. Any organization that glorifies certain artists and marginalizes others based on genre fosters the crummy perception that "you must not be important if you're not in the Hall of Fame."  I'm certain that Seymour Stein's involvement with the HOF didn't have ANYTHING to do with all of his Sire recording artists getting inducted.  I'm sorry, but the Talking Heads aren't any more important or influential than Rush, and I'm a fan of neither.   

Fulmer
Fulmer

Holy Sh*t, Dick Dale is not in?!?  Well articulated piece, which of course I agree 100%.

jtrain23
jtrain23

There are many bands that are deserving.  Some people would be astonished at the list of bands excluded from the Hall of Fame.  Bands like KISS, The Moody Blues, Heart, and Jethro Tull to name a few.  The one that blows me away is Chicago.  How this band is not in the RRHOF before bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beastie Boys is amazing.  They were teh number 1 selling act of the entire decade of the 1970's and were influential in 4 other decades.  Give me a break.

Jim Grogan
Jim Grogan

The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is a commercial enterprise. It only has validity if you want it to.Wiki Johnny Rotten's comment on it. The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame has about as much meaning to me as the Nobel Peace Prize Commission. Look at KISS, not a favorite of mine, but very influential to many rock musicians from the 80's and 90's. Yet the Hall is full of no names and commercial enterprises sold off as pop stars.

MadMac
MadMac

When Alex Lifeson said something similar I initially thought he was spitting sour grapes. Reading details, I'm beginning to agree. This is about dollars impure and simple. And that these guys didn't go the easy road is a testiment to their commitment to their vision.

MadMac
MadMac

Yeah, DP will get in about the time that Rainbow gets inducted. Some time around the 31st of Neverary.

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