What does it take to get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

By mbrooks on October 16, 2019
CLEVELAND – MARCH 30: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is seen March 30, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Darkness is meeting with fans and signing their new CD “Permission To Land”. (Photo by Jason Nelson/Getty Images)

By Matthew Brooks

What does it take to get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

The foundation was formed in 1993. The first class was inducted in 1986.

On paper, the only requirement is 25 years passing since the release of an artist’s first record.

RockHall says that artists are chosen for “demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent” and having a “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”

From there, it gets less certain about what it really takes.

The nomination

The nomination process starts with three people. Nominations come from Hall of Fame founder Jann Wenner, its former director Suzan Evans, and writer Dave Marsh. Wenner is also the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine.

Without the opinion of these three, there really is no nomination.

The nomination leads to a vote among 500 music professionals. Among the voters are academics, critics, and producers.

Induction into the Hall requires a majority vote from the group. But not every band to receive 51% gets in.

The Hall only inducts the artists with the top votes.

Typically, only half-a-dozen are successful even though the nominees can number more than two-dozen.

The work may be as non-transparent as such a high-profile process can be.

Fans can vote as part of the process on RockHall. The Hall of Fame is not bound by the results of the fan vote.

The fan vote ends 11:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 10, 2020.

No Number Ones needed

Getting in to the Rock Hall does not require a minimum number of No. 1 hits, or even any top songs or albums.

Current nominee Motorhead has zero top-100 hits, according to Billboard.

The other nominees for the 2020 Rock Hall ceremony don’t have many No. 1 hits between them.

Whitney Houston, by far, has more No. 1s than any other current nominee. Houston has eleven No. 1 hits to her name. Her best known work is likely “I Will Always Love You” of 1992.

The Doobie Brothers have two No. 1 songs. “Black Water” and “What a Fool Believes,” reached the top in  1985 and 1989, respectively.

Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield’ and “We Belong,” hit No. 5 in 1983 and 1985, respectively

Dave Matthews Band topped out at No. 16 with “American Baby” in 2005.

Depeche Mode got to No. 8 with “Enjoy the Silence,” in 1990.

Judas Priest’s got its song, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin,” to No. 67 in 1982.

Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” topped out at No. 25 in 1975.

MC5, “Kick Out the Jams” just made it into the top 100, at No. 82 in 1969.

Nine Inch Nails almost got to the top 10 with “The Day the World Went Away” a No. 17 song in 1999.

The Notorious B.I.G. crafted two No. 1s, “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems” (featuring Puff Daddy & Ma$e), both in 1997.

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan created “Tell Me Something Good,” a No. 3 hit in 1974.

Todd Rundgren’s classic “Hello It’s Me,” was a No. 5 song in 1973.

Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” went as high as No. 24 in 1994.

T. Rex got “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” to No. 10 in 1972.

Thin Lizzy’s classic “The Boys Are Back in Town” reached all the way to No. 12 in 1976.

“We’re not coming”

Bands have openly lobbied for a nomination to the Hall.

Other artists have gone out of their way to reject it.

The Sex Pistols received an induction to the Rock Hall thirteen years ago. The band’s acidic response to the honor lives on.

“We’re not coming and we’re not your monkeys,” the band wrote.

The Hall of Fame approved Guns N’ Roses for the Hall in 2012. In an open letter, Axl Rose wrote his disapproval with the foundation.

“I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of ‘Guns N’ Roses,'” Axl’s letter stated.

More recently, in 2018, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden said the Hall of Fame “wouldn’t know rock ‘n’ roll if it hit them in the face.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland is also the unofficial home of the phrase “rock n’ roll.” Cleveland radio disc jockey Alan Freed popularized the words in 1951.

For everyone else, getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is just $26 for general admission.

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