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List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees - The Good, The Bad and The Questionable?

Updated on May 9, 2016

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a man made landmark where music Icons are celebrated, adored, and worshiped by star struck fans from every continent on the planet. A multi-national time capsule containing what a select few, fortunate, controlling individuals perceive and present as relevant artifacts and memorable remnants for all future generations to peruse. A place to admire our idols in quiet reminiscence and remember the creators and innovators of this peacefully rebellious music genre who feverishly blazed a scorching hot audio trail unto the very sacred halls of this monument by leaving all who would accept this generous gift, an inheritance of extraordinary musical works. We must assume an "Exemplary" or "Exceptional" or even "Paranormal" threshold of achievement was a pre-requisite apparently contained within the original concept, lofty criteria rightfully put into place for potential inductees to attain prior to receiving consideration for an admission ticket leading to entrance.

A brief history is certainly in order, but then on to comments, opinions, and what I deem to be justified constructive criticisms regarding this ever expanding institution. You may agree, disagree, or maintain a neutral position with regard to my educated observations, but I, as others in the business have articulated, are of the opinion that certain critical aspects of this hall need to be addressed by the general public and those who have a deep seated interest, to hopefully avert the inevitable, the denigration of integrity to the point of a non-salvageable state. This scrutiny may indeed seem insignificant to the casual observer at first fleeting glance, however, I can't think of another medium which influences our younger generation in a more demonstrably permanent fashion than music, especially Rock and Roll music and her continuously synthesized branches of delectable derivatives. Therefore, let's begin.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Pratt
Photo Courtesy of Jason Pratt


Created April 20, 1983 and now located in Cleveland Ohio on the shore of Lake Eerie, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was conceived and built as a monument to music artists, producers, and others in the field who donated their insignificantly small, or overbearingly large contribution which either influenced or forged a new musical path through imagination and or vision.

The physical location was not chosen solely by the developers, a common outcome in the case of most ventures of this nature, but rather through a tri-fecta of favorable and fortuitous aspects which all conveniently came together to make this docile domain of Rock & Roll music legend possible. The jackpot included civic leaders in Cleveland presenting a preliminary plan and offer of $65 million in public investment for actual construction costs, the delivery of a petition signed by 600,000 music enthusiasts who had preferred the city of Cleveland over another alternative candidate Memphis, and the final element which anointed and sealed Cleveland's fate as the first and only sacred venue for the R & R's Hall of Fame, was the result of a rather large poll conducted by USA Today in which revealed public sentiment overwhelmingly favored Cleveland over all other candidates by a healthy 100,000 votes.

Some in the business will argue that radio personalities such as Alan Freed, a well known Disc Jockey in the area who was credited with coining the phrase "Rock and Roll", and who also lobbied aggressively for the Cleveland area, was unquestionably another deciding factor. In addition, Cleveland, which was apparently the sole venue for the first ever rock and roll concert, may have been another deal sealing factor at play. I personally believe the drafting and subsequent waving around of such a sizable check was the true deciding factor, but conversely, we really can't discount the raw power of effective lobbying especially when you have thousands of loyal radio listeners at the ready to advocate a cause. In any event, everything was soon in place. The financing, the petition, and public support as expressed via the public poll, and of course the rest is history as it relates to the how and when this particular location was "Inducted" as exclusive venue.


In this compact segment, I will offer an opinion pertaining to the specific artists whom I feel are deserving in one way or another to adorn the sacred rock n roll walls of the Hall of Fame. This is my personal, well thought out expert opinion, an opinion which will emanate primarily from a lifelong history of music involvement, which involved performing live on stage with various underground, or high profile bands and artists while playing a variety of different old school and cutting edge styles. I've personally performed on both the right and left coast of the U.S., and of course this is not sole justification for crowning me undisputed "King" of music knowledge, for this is merely my personal perspective as it relates to the those who I feel have significantly impacted rock and roll music, who have rightfully earned the accolade, and therefore deserve induction. Here's my list of distinguished honorees. They are annotated by the year in which they were inducted.

  • 1986 - Chuck Berry - James Brown - Ray Charles - Sam Cooke - Fats Domino - The Everly Brothers - Buddy Holly - Jerry Lee Lewis - Little Richard - Elvis Presley 1987 - The Coasters - Eddie Cochran - Bo Diddley - Aretha Franklin - Marvin Gaye - Bill Haley - B.B. King - Clyde McPhatter - Ricky Nelson - Roy Orbison - Carl Perkins - Smokey Robinson - Big Joe Turner - Muddy Waters - Jacki Wilson 1988 - The Beach Boys - The Beatles - The Drifters - Bob Dillon - The Supremes 1989 - Dion - Otis Redding - The Rolling Stones - The Temptations - Stevie Wonder
  • 1990 - Hank Ballard - Bobby Darin - The Four Seasons - The Four Tops - The Platters - Simon & Garfunkel - The Who 1991 - The Birds - John Lee Hooker - Wilson Pickett - Ike & Tina Turner 1992 - Booker T. & The M.G.'s - Johnny Cash - The Isley Brother's - The Jimi Hendrix Experience - The Yardbirds 1993 - Cream - Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Doors - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - Etta James - Sly & The Family Stone 1994 - The Animals - The Band - Duane Eddy - Grateful Dead - Elton John - John Lennon - Bob Marley - Rod Stewart
  • 1995 - The Allman Brothers Band - Al Green - Janis Joplin - Led Zeppelin - Martha and the Vandellas - Niel Young - Frank Zappa 1996 - David Bowie - Gladys Night & The Pips - Pink Floyd - The Shirelles - The Velvet Underground 1997 - Bee Gees - Buffalo Springfield - Crosby, Stills & Nash - The Jackson 5 - Joni Mitchell - Parliament Funkadelic 1998 - Eagles - Fleetwood Mac - The Mamas & The Papas - Loyd Price - Santana
  • 1999 - Billy Joel - Curtis Mayfield - Paul McCartney - Bruce Springsteen - The Staple Singers 2000 - Eric Clapton - Earth, Wind & Fire - James Tayor - Bonnie Raitt 2001 - Aerosmith - Solomon Burke - Michael Jackson - Queen - Paul Simon - Richie Valens 2002 - Isaac Hayes - Brenda Lee - Ramones - Talking Heads - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - Gene Pitney 2003 - AC/DC - The Clash - The Police - The Righteous Brothers - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • 2004 - Jackson Browne - George Harrison - Prince - ZZ Top 2005 - Buddy Guy - Percy Sledge - U2 - Pretenders - The O'Jays 2006 - Black Sabbath - Miles Davis - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sex Pistols 2007- Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - R.E.M. - The Ronettes - Patty Smith 2008 - The Dave Clark Five - Leonard Cohen - John Mellencamp - The Ventures - Madonna 2009 - Jeff Beck - Little Anthony & The Imperials - Metallica - Run D.M.C. - Bobby Womack 2010 - Genesis - Jimmy Cliff - The Hollies - The Stooges 2011 - Alice Cooper Band - Darlene Love - Dr. John - Leon Russell - Neil Diamond - Tom Waits
  • 2012 - Beastie Boys - The Blue Caps - The Comets - The Crickets - Donovan - Tom Dowd - The Famous Flames - Guns N' Roses - Glyn Johns - Freddie King - Don Kirshner - The Midnighters - The Miracles - Laura Nyro - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Small Faces - The Faces 2013 - Lou Adler - Heart - Quincy Jones - Albert King - Randy Newman - Public Enemy - Rush - Donna Summer 2014 - The E Street Band - Brian Epstein - Peter Gabriel - Daryl Hall & John Oates - KISS - Nirvana - Andrew Loog Oldham - Linda Ronstadt - Cat Stevens 2015 - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - The 5 Royales - Green Day - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - Lou Reed - Ringo Starr - Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble - Bill Withers 2016 - Cheap Trick - Chicago - Deep Purple - N.W.A. - Steve Miller

The BAD?

First of all, to make sure we are all performing from the same page of music pertaining to the following vernacular, "Bad" means "Bad" not "Good Bad". This category should absolutely be characterized as self explanatory. It's simply my opinion as it relates to whom I believe are the worst artists ever to be inducted. Individual or solo artists or groups who absolutely do not belong in the same galaxy let alone the same pedestal or building as the aforementioned maestros of their craft. It's inconceivable to me and others I converse with regularly how certain sub-standard, or obviously mal-talented artists actually found their way into such a prestigious and elite, negligibly small group of what should be designated as the best of the best.

The criteria or "Bar of Excellence" required to be reached prior to gracing this venue with your presence should be exceedingly far above the average or norm, it should be set at nose bleed levels. Just as the Baseball Hall of Fame inducts only those players who have achieved a certain lofty threshold of accomplishment, I believe the same high standards should be met or exceeded by rock and roll artists. And yes, I do know 'It's only Rock n' Roll', but I like it, love it, and monitor it closely as this genre of music is one of the most influential to our children and adults alike. Unfortunately, if we set the bar of achievement for induction in the basement at 'Mediocre' or 'In the right place at the right time', what kind of message does this send to impressionable kids? You don't have to strive for excellence to be acknowledged as the best, it's acceptable to be mediocre and hope for the best?

So enough said. Here's my controversial list of artists whom I believe absolutely do not belong in the same building as the true greats. Who here amongst us honestly believes ABBA, as entertaining as they can be, should actually be ranked right up there with legitimate inductees such as The Beatles, or Chuck Berry, or even Bob Dylan? Do any of the following artist's body of work really stack up to all the genuinely great artists listed above in the previous paragraph? You be the judge. I would be very interested in hearing your feedback if indeed you have a dissenting opinion.

  • 2000 - The Lovin' Spoonful
  • 2001 - Steely Dan
  • 2010 - ABBA


Finally, we have the last category of inductees, which once again, should be self explanatory, "The Questionable", those artists who in my opinion are performing an imaginary balancing act on the invisible border line somewhere between legitimate & illegitimate inductee. My first nomination for this illustrious, quasi-climatic award is Van Halen. Yes of course, I do realize Eddie Van Halen is a superbly gifted guitarist and innovator who had the pre-meditated audacious intuition to developed a unique style all unto his own. And yes, I understand to this very day students are working tirelessly and in some cases excruciatingly tediously, to emulate this lightning fast guitar virtuoso, but then again, Steve Vai, who in my opinion is heads and shoulders above Mr. Van Halen with regard to actual talent, has yet to garner a first look for induction consideration.

Van Halen as a collective group, did indeed produce two phenomenal, cutting edge albums but do they honestly deserve to be in the same prestigious venue as the Beatles? Or the Rolling Stones? Or Chuck Berry? Or even Elvis? With little effort, I think you could swiftly ascertain my explicit thoughts on this. And then we have Blondie, a new wave group fronted by the no more than adequate vocal talents of Debra Harry. Sure, this band of wavers were embedded within the fabric of a cutting edge new wave movement but I certainly don't think they were in the same league as The Clash or The Stooges, nor to my knowledge did they produce as many substantive songs. In conclusion, the remainder of the list speaks for itself and just to reiterate, if you have a different opinion regarding any or all of my observations, please let me know. I would certainly like to hear from you.

  • 1990 -The Kinks
  • 1991 - LaVern Baker - The Impressions - Jimmy Reed
  • 1992 - Bobby Blue Bland - Sam & Dave
  • 1993 - Ruth Brown - Van Morrison
  • 1996 - Jefferson Airplane - Little Willie John
  • 1997 - The Rascals
  • 1998 - Gene Vincent
  • 1999 - Del Shannon - Dusty Springfield
  • 2000 - The Moonglows
  • 2001 - The Flamingos
  • 2004 - The Dells - Bob Seger - Traffic
  • 2006 - Blondie
  • 2011 - Dr. John - Tom Waits
  • 2012 - Donovan - Glyn Johns - Freddie King - Laura Nyro
  • 2013 - Randy Newman

Photo Courtesy of Jason Pratt
Photo Courtesy of Jason Pratt


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    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 2 years ago from > California

      Where are "Styx" & "Bob Seger"??

      Two of the most prominent, "Radio Aired" rock acts of the 70's & early 80's -

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 3 years ago from > California

      - R&R News U*P*D*A*T*E -

      2015 Inductees Include (Alphabetically):

      * Paul Butterfield Blues Band

      * Green Day

      * Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

      * Lou Reed

      * Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

      * Bill Withers

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 3 years ago from > California

      Actually, I’ve decided to re-evaluate all other Artists, Producers, Bands, and Peripheral or Incidental music industry related individuals listed in the "Questionable" & "Bad" categories because I’ve arrived at a common sense conclusion:

      The institution is entitled “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” not the “Rock and Roll Hall of Extraordinary Talent & Achievement “ - Therefore, if the condition precedent of merely being “Famous” is met, the induction of less than stellar musicians is acceptable due to the implication of “Hall of Fame” ~

      - A.P. -

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 3 years ago from > California

      "R.E.M. by MTV" - Subsequent to a re-evaluation of R.E.M.’s body of work combined with their documented righteous political values & beliefs, I’ve decided to remove them from the “Bad” category -

      - A.P. -

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Hello kereeves3, Welcome to the discussion.

      I personally think you make some very valid points about Styx. A talented group of artists that in my opinion are more deserving of "Rock n' Roll" immortality than some who have already been inducted. Are they on the same level of the "Beatles" or "Stones"? probably not, but are they worthy of entry under current "Criteria"? Most definitely.

    • kereeves3 profile image

      Karen 7 years ago from Salem, OR

      I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I still believe Styx deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They were the first band in the history of music to have four consecutive multi-platinum albums, and they continue to sell out arenas across the United States. Granted, I'm a bit bias because they happen to be one of my favorite Classic Rock/80s Rock band. But anyway, great hub!

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Hello Jymn, Thanks for stopping by and the input,

      I'm sure there may be others who feel the same as you and that's OK. Differing opinions is what makes the world evolve and of course what makes a very diverse & controversial list of R&R Hall of Fame inductees.

      While the Kinks undoubtedly produced a solid body of work throughout their career, in my personal opinion it just doesn't quite compare to the likes of the "Beatles", "Stones" or "Hendrix" contributions. I never said the "Kinks" were a bad act, as a matter of fact they have some great songs which did indeed inspire others who followed, I'm just not sure they belong with the "Elite"

      I do appreciate the comment Jymn and I'm confident there's much more that we agree on aside from the "Kinks" debate.

      Thanks again for visiting.

    • profile image

      Jymn 7 years ago

      Putting the Kinks as questionable is laughable. "All Day and All Night", "Til the End of the Day", "You Really Got Me" and so many other hard rockers defined a generation and inspired heavy metal. You can't get much more rock and roll than those songs.

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Hi Giselle, Thanks for stopping by & your insightful imput.

      I'm still contemplating the "Kinks" placement on the list and you've made some legitimate and very strong points regarding their cutting edge social commentary, but maybe a few other things need to be addressed and defined first. The criteria for induction into this institution seems to be inconsistent, and possibly outlining general qualifications for consideration might be the first step.

      When I think of the "Hall of Fame" it brings to mind not only music but the greatest athletes as well. Michael Jordan , Babe Ruth , etc come to mind. So my main question is the following...Are "Halls of Fame" reserved for "Over Achievers" or for those that are merely "Famous" as the title states.

      It's a stimulating conversation, and thanks again for stopping by Giselle. Your input is greatly appreciated and who knows maybe the next time you come by the "Kinks" will be full fledged members of this particular "R&R HOF"

      Thanks Again


    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 7 years ago

      Hi Alternative Prime, I really liked your hub - it's very informative and interesting!

      As I was reading it, I was a bit surprised to see The Kinks in 'questionable' instead of 'good'(& then subsequently saw your comment debating The Kinks). Of course, an argument can be made both ways, but on the pro-Kinks side I would have to say that their songs *are* rock-n-roll *and* their lyrics deal with some pretty serious social commentary (usually satirical) even if their 'catchy' tunes seem non-serious at first glance. I'm thinking of songs like 'Victoria' (about Queen Victoria, the monarchy & British Empire)and 'Lola' (about gender issues), to name just a few.

      Anyhow, I really liked your hub & I learned a lot about the history of the rock-n-roll hall of fame. Thanks for a great hub. VOTE UP!!

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Hi mikicagle, Thanks for stopping by & your input.

      Your info seems to support the story of how Cleveland ultimately won over the powers that be and the public.

      My research in essence leads me to the same conclusions, major lobby efforts via the radio airwaves and possibly behind the scenes to secure Cleveland as the "Rock & Roll Place of Worship"...Significant money raised for the project as well. For years we've had a building to celebrate great artist's, now we just need to work on a consistant formula or criteria for choosing inductees...

      Thanks again for stopping by...

    • mikicagle profile image

      mikicagle 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      I lived in Cleveland when the Rock and Roll Hall of fame was just an idea. There was a lot of hype surrounding it and the local radio stations lobbied hard to get it especially WMMS-The Buzzard!!

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Hey Happyboomernurse thanks for stopping by & nice to see you again...

      Also thanks for the compliment, I enjoyed writing it probably just as much as you enjoyed reading it....Very good point regarding The Beatles & Elvis.

      And possibly with a little more persuasion on your part you might just convert me over regarding the Lovin' Spoonful.....However ABBA? I don't know about that one, as much as I like watching them in retrospect,... definitely entertaining & perky with some real catchy songs.....But I still think I need to stand firm for now and as Hall & Oates would say..."I Can't Go For That No Can Do"....

      Unless you can come up with more convincing evidence, In my opinion I still think ABBA would loose the fictional case in a "Rock n' Roll" courtroom. But then again who really knows..

      Thanks again for stopping by, I enjoy the conversation...

      Alternative Prime

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 7 years ago from South Carolina

      You did a great job researching this article and I enjoyed reading it. I definitely agree that Steely Dan and R.E.M. should stay in the Bad section, but I would have ranked ABBA and The Loving Spoonful as Questionable.

      As far as I'm concerned no groups or singers came close to the Beatles or Elvis. They were definitely in a league of their own.

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

      Yeah, maybe your right about Blondie RGNestle....

      See, I'm pretty easy!

      What do you think about the Kink's? I'm already reconsidering and thinking about placing them back in the 'GOOD' area.....It was very difficult to put them in the 'Questionable' column to begin with....

      Thanks for stopping by & The compliment RGNestle...Any other thoughts please feel free...

      Alternative Prime

    • RGNestle profile image

      RGNestle 7 years ago from Seattle

      I would vote for Blondie. There's just something about her and her music. Nice Hub!