Don’t get me wrong, I love the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and love visiting it. In fact, it was my main purpose when traveling to Cleveland not long ago. What’s more, the staff members at the RRHOF were exceptionally friendly and helpful in getting me tickets. However, with the recent announcement of the 2023 nominees to the Rock Hall, I feel I finally had to speak out.
While I appreciate many of the potential inductees as well as its diversity, many music artists continue to be left out. On the other hand, many worthy acts might not get in because of waning popularity. With this in mind, here are 10 music groups and solo artists that I feel are deserving of induction into this elite membership. (Whether I like their music or not or whether they make it.)
Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame and Museum
1100 E. Ninth St.
Cleveland, OH 44114
Entering its 40th year, the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame and Museum really needs no introduction. Established by the late Ahmet Ertegun, the Rock Hall represents one of the highest honors in the music industry. Since 1986, the RRHOF has inducted music artists and groups by way of a vote. Originally, only a select number of rock experts including music executives and producers were eligible to vote. However, by 2012 music fans could vote for their favorite recording artists. Despite this more equitable process, the Rock Hall has been a source of criticism. With respect to the RRHOF, I will not get into any details. Yet today, there are 365 inductees, with a few more entering after the completion of this year’s Rock Hall vote.
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Whether it’s as a solo artist or as part of a ‘60s duo, Cher should get into the Rock Hall at some point. But what you may find surprising is she’s been eligible for over 30 years without a single nomination. Hitting the big time in the ‘60s as Sonny and Cher, the couple had two big hits with “Baby Don’t Go” and “I Got You Babe”. By the ‘70s their popularity grew even larger with two prime time variety shows. Around the same time, Cher set out as a solo artist, with many more prominent contributions to the music and film industries. This includes her Oscar-winning performance in “Moonstruck” and 22 singles in the Top 40. Over a career that spans nearly 60 years, Cher has sold over 100 million records, including the Grammy-winning “Believe”. I honestly don’t know what else she can do to earn a nomination.
If you’re a millennial or Generation Z, chances are you’re not familiar with Connie Francis. That’s because her peak years were several decades ago. Nevertheless, she’s the First Lady of Rock & Roll for good reason and a music icon. In fact, she’s the first female singer with a chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100. Indeed, in April, 1960 recording of “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” made it to No. 1 not long after. That distinction alone makes you wonder why this Jersey-born singer has never been a nominee. As much as you may not be familiar with that Billboard hit, many popular singles followed. For example, “Who’s Sorry Now”, “Lipstick on Your Collar” and “Where the Boys Are”. In all, Connie Francis recorded 53 hit singles during the ’50s and ’60s.
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It was gratifying to see Dionne Warwick amongst the 2022 nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, she fell short about 100,000 votes and this year is not on the ballot. However, Ms. Warwick is a bona fide star and ranks among the most popular recording artists of all time. Like Connie Francis, Dionne Warwick may lack in recognition amongst the younger crowd. Despite this, she has sales of over 100 million records and 56 of her made the Billboard Hot 100. Among her best-known recordings are “Walk On By”, “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose”. That’s not to mention later hits like “Then Came You” with current nominees The Spinners and “That’s What Friends Are For”. The latter recording also featured inductees Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John. Perhaps the recent career-spanning documentary “Don’t Make Me Over” documentary on HBO Max will make new fans.
The British rock band Jethro Tull has never been named a nominee to the Rock Hall and that puzzles me. We’re talking about a band who’s still active in some form after founding way back in 1967. What’s more Rolling Stone described the bands “one of the most commercially successful and eccentric progressive rock bands”. That’s important as Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner was also a founding member of the Rock Hall and on the nominating committee. However, Jethro Tull’s principal singer and songwriter Ian Anderson said last year in an interview that the band didn’t deserve induction. In some detail, Anderson said that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an American institution focusing on American musical influences. Although this may be true, Jethro Tull is an iconic band best known for hits like “Aqualung”, “Locomotive Breath” and “Living in the Past”. Fans of the band know there’s many more and are glad Ian Anderson can still play the flute while standing in his iconic stork pose.
I still don’t understand why legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter has never had a nomination into the RRHOF. According to Future Rock Legends, Winter was under consideration as a nominee in 1994. But that’s the only mention of him despite his eligibility since 1995. One of the arguments I see is this Grammy Award winning guitarist was never a popular mainstream artist. Moreover, his only Top 40 single was “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” from his “Johnny Winter And” album. On the other hand, he’s a member of the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and his work with Muddy Waters won three Grammys. Even Rolling Stone has him at No. 63 among the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Perhaps most importantly, when Jimi Hendrix and Winter had a performance together, Hendrix chose to play bass guitar.
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame deserves credit for nominating Link Wray twice, in 2013 and 2017. That’s to say nothing of his listing among Rolling Stone’s greatest guitarist of all time. Yet at the same time, this legendary ‘50s rocker isn’t well known outside of his fanbase and music circles. Even so, there is a good chance that you’ve heard “Rumble”, his most famous instrumental from 1958. That’s because “Rumble” is on the soundtrack of movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Independence Day” and Peacock’s “Poker Face”. Even if you argue that he’s mostly famous for a single record, Link Wray is a major influencer. For instance, he’s the inventor of the power chord, distinctly heard on that famous recording. What’s more, elite music artists like Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page and Neil Young cite Link Wray’s influence. Incidentally, “Rumble” made its way into the RRHOF as a single record in 2018.
With an incredible music career extending over 60 years, Neil Sedaka should have entered the Rock Hall in his first year of eligibility. Yet despite writing or co-writing over 500 songs, he’s not nearly as popular as contemporary recordings artists. That is a reason why he might win a popular vote although he’s worthier than some others. In case, you’re not familiar with Neil Sedaka, his peak years were in the ‘60s and 70s. During this time, for example, he recorded hits like “Oh Carol”, “Calendar Girl” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”. That’s not to mention “Laughter In The Rain” and “Bad Blood”. In addition, he’s written or co-written top hits for others performing artists. Among the most popular songs you might know are Abba’s “Ring, Ring” and Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”. While he’s been a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame since 1983, I’m hoping he gets into the Rock Hall someday.
You have to wonder why the Carpenters have yet to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, Karen and Richard Carpenter are among the best-selling music artists in history. To put that in perspective, they sold more records than inductees like The Police, Kiss and Aretha Franklin. What’s more, the Carpenters had 12 Top 10 hits and 20 in the Top 40, along with three Grammy Awards. At the same, most of their biggest hits were written by others like Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Roger Nichols and Paul Williams. Although this may be true, the duo has sold over 100 million records worldwide, ranking them among the best ever. As for songs, listen to “Close To You”, “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Superstar” and “Top of the World”.
One of the earliest musical acts signed by Detroit’s legendary Motown Records, the Marvelettes are clearly worthy of induction. In fact, “Please Mr. Postman” was the first ever No. 1 hit single for Motown on its Tamla label. Yet despite additional hits like “Playboy” and “Don’t Mess With Bill”, this American girl group may only get in with a special vote. Although the RRHOF gets credit for nominating them twice for induction, the group didn’t get enough votes. In other words, they may not be nominated again. Perhaps it’s time for to create a special committee like baseball’s Golden Days Era Committee. Of course, expanding the Music Legends could help. As it is, the Marvelettes are in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and R&B Music Hall of Fame.
Original Members of the Marvelettes
The founding members were Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and Georgina Dobbins. By the time this legendary vocal group were signed, Georgina Dobbs was replaced by Wanda Young.
Tommy James and the Shondells
With popular hits like “Crimson and Clover” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” Tommy James and the Shondells might eventually enter the Rock Hall. Even so, this rock band out of Niles, Michigan surprisingly hasn’t had a single nomination. After all, they were one of the most popular American bands in the ‘60s and had over 20 songs in the Top 40. Most importantly, the band has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Despite a music catalog that further includes “Hanky Panky” and “Mony Mony”, the band wasn’t as popular as their contemporaries like The Beatles and the Doors. If you listen to some of their top songs, make sure to include “Draggin’ the Line”, a solo hit by Tommy James.
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Other Notable Acts Worthy Of Future Consideration
Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Gerry & the Pacemakers
Humble Pie (featuring Peter Frampton and Rock Hall inductee Steve Marriott)
Jan & Dean
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
Jr. Walker and the All Stars
Kool & the Gang
Love (featuring Arthur Lee)
Paul Revere and the Raiders
Paul Rodgers (with Free and Bad Company)
Peter, Paul & Mary
Ten Years After
The Funk Brothers
The Guess Who
The Kingston Trio
The Spencer Davis Group
Three Dog Night
Of the many outside references, I’d like to acknowledge the comprehensive information available on FutureRockLegends.com. While I only list a small number of worthy music artists in comparison, this site offers an expansive list. In fact, I cannot find another source that covers as much information as Future Rock Legends does.
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About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.