From The Archives: Is Everybody In? Who Deserves Induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Originally published in Goldmine Magazine, 2006

BELLOWS FALLS, VERMONT – Back in 2006, I wrote an article for Goldmine magazine revolving around that year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction process. The article also included a list of bands and artists that I thought deserved enshrinement, but had somehow been omitted to that point. Thinking back, I can remember being quite passionate about the fact that the Rock Hall had essentially ignored the “progressive rock” genre to that point.


Article by Joe Milliken * Photos 1. Rush in Boston, by Craig Mellish 2. The Cars at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in Cleveland, by Joe Milliken 3. Fee Waybill of The Tubes at The Bullrun, by Joe Milliken 4. King Crimson live in Boston, by Joe Milliken

Fast-forward 12 years and as another class of nominees (including The Cure, Def Leppard, Devo, Roxy Music and Todd Rundgren) was recently announced, I thought it would be interesting to look back and see if any of the bands and artists I originally listed, have since gained enshrinement into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As it turns out 6 of the 11 bands I mentioned in 2006, have since gained enshrinement. Let’s take a look.

Excerpt published in Goldmine Magazine, 2006

With another year of artists being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, including The Pretenders, U2, and Buddy Guy, it always raises questions with this writer about who gets in, who decides who gets in, what the criteria is to get in, and who is still on the outside looking in.

It is a difficult task to include every band and artist that may be deserving of induction, and I'm sure every rock-and-roll fan out there can come up with a list of their own deserving artists. However, it seems to me, that there are a several glaring omissions out there. Some very influential, and legendary names have not been inducted, and surely it must leave many fans scratching heads and begging for answers. Here are a few bands and artists that have been denied induction, and a brief description of some of their contributions.

Genesis - One of the most influential and best-selling progressive/art rock
bands of the last thirty years. From the early, more theatrical days of Peter Gabriel with his surreal lyrics and costume changes, through the smooth transition to drummer-to-front-man Phil Collins, Genesis has sold over 21 million albums in the U. S. alone and have demonstrated creativity, innovation and class throughout. Not to mention the highly successful careers of Gabriel and Collins, who have sold over 30 million albums combined as solo artists. Status: Enshrined in 2010

Yes - Another of the most popular art rock bands, Yes has created complicated yet melodic compositions, stellar musicianship, and has sold millions (12.5 in the U. S.) of albums spanning over three decades. They combine intelligent arrangements, fantasy-soaked lyrics, and songs that touch both heart and soul, enticing you to think and reflect. Whether it be elaborate soundscapes, extended instrumentals, acoustic melodies, or pop-driven hooks, Yes can adapt to any style and thrive. Status: Enshrined in 2017

Rush - This power trio from Toronto has released a Canadian standard 23 gold albums (with several going platinum), had a string of ten consecutive Billboard Top Ten releases in America, and is the number-one selling Canadian act in U. S. history. Never a band to follow trends or listen to their critics, Rush has created their own path, combining virtuoso musicianship, powerful arrangements, and stimulating lyrics to produce some of the most thought-provoking music in rock. Combine that with an awe-inspired stage presence and professionalism that is second to none, and what you have is an overall body of work certainly deserving of enshrinement. Status: Enshrined in 2013

The Moody Blues - One of the original progressive bands (see a trend here?) that came out of the 'flower power' era, the 'Moodies' combined multiple influences into their sound including R & B, classical, orchestral, space rock, acoustic styles, Eastern influences, and pop, to produce a melting pot of musical bliss. They have had Top 40 hits in three decades and have amassed a huge and loyal following, with album sales of over 55 million world wide. Status: Enshrined in 2018. (Editor's note: This writer attended this induction ceremony.)

Jethro Tull - A unique phenomenon combining hard rock, acoustic melodies, blues chops, and mid-evil lyrics to produce a unique sound that has garnered eleven gold, and five platinum albums. Led by Ian Anderson, the 'merry minstrel' made it cool to play the flute.. and a wild, rock-and-roll flute it was... in a rock-style format. Jethro Tull has carved out a niche in popular music unlike any other before or since. Status: Never been nominated

Emerson, Lake, And Palmer - One of the great progressive bands (there's that term again) of all time, this trio was the original 'super group.' With its' members forming from King Crimson (Greg Lake), The Nice (Keith Emerson) and Atomic Rooster (Carl Palmer),they created complex, 'thinking man's' compositions that combined arrangements containing classical, jazz, folk, and rock genres. Their live shows were flamboyant and aggressive spectacles, and combined with their virtuoso musicianship, virtually created the sub-genre of 'symphonic rock' all on their own. The mighty E.L.P. has sold over 30 million albums word wide. Status: Never been nominated

Todd Rundgren - One of the truly unique, well-rounded, and underrated pioneering figures in popular music. Rundgren has worn so many hats: singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, band leader (Runt, Utopia), solo artist, side man, producer, videographer, and software programmer/engineer. His music has ventured through rock, pop, punk, folk, jazz, r & b, progressive, and electronic.

Oh, and let’s not forget some of the bands Rundgren has produced over the years such as Meatloaf (Bat Out Of Hell has sold 25 million copies!), Grand Funk Railroad, XTC, The Tubes, Bad Finger and the New York Dolls, just to name a few. He has left his musical fingerprints everywhere and is a trend setter, having created one of the original artist interactive web sites that offered his music online. This musical chameleon certainly deserves induction. Status: Nominated for induction in 2019

Dire Straits - This band is unique in the fact that when they released their self-titled debut in 1978, the order of the day in music was punk, new wave, and the surviving classic rock bands with huge followings. Then there was Dire Straits. A new group of everyday blokes who marched to the beat of their own drum. They sounded kind of bluesy, a little folky, cool guitar solos, a little Bob Dylan and Chet Atkins thrown in, and that unmistakable singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Knopfler.

He writes lyrics that communicate, and his subtle vocals deliver the message loud and clear. Dire Straits isn't flashy, yet their musicianship is impeccable, and Knopfler's finger-picking style has drawn envy from generations of guitarists. Dire Straits' music is filled with integrity and emotion, not just lyrics that rhymed for the sake of it, or chords for the sake of jamming. This is a band that never followed the masses and have sold millions of albums (over 15 million copies of the Brothers In Arms album alone) on their own terms. Status: Enshrined in 2018 (This writer was there)

The Tubes - This San Francisco outfit never sold a lot of records or got
a lot of air play, but that certainly isn't the point. An eccentric theater-rock band that stood for creativity, ingenuity, tight musicianship, and just having a blast living the rock-and-roll life! A musical three ring circus that created costume-changing vignettes on stage disguised as rock-and-roll rave ups, this band was chock-full of wit, irony, sarcasm and a whole lot of hooks.

Front-man Fee Waybill was a theater actor as much as a lead singer on stage, and guitarist/songwriter/band founder, Bill Spooner, is a grossly underrated talent. From "White Punks On Dope", and "What Do You Want From Life", to "She's A Beauty" (their only Top 20 hit), "Sushi Girl" and "Talk To Ya Later," The Tubes were one of the most outrageous bands to ever come out of the eclectic San Francisco Bay Area scene, or any other scene for that matter. Status: Never been nominated

King Crimson - It is strange that this band is perhaps the least known of the progressive rock family, simply because King Crimson arguably invented the genre with the release of In The Court Of The Crimson King in 1969, which Pete Townshend claimed at the time to be 'an uncanny masterpiece.' Their body of work is full of gut-wrenching structures, uneasy rhythms, the screeching guitar of band leader/guitarist Robert Fripp, and the contributions of several progressive icons through the years including Bill Bruford, Greg Lake, Adrian Belew, John Wetton, Bos Burrell, David Cross and Tony Levin. King Crimson set the progressive rock standard for all the rest to follow. Status: Never been nominated

The Cars - Widely considered the best of the "new wave" genre, this unique band from Boston successfully bridged the gap between punk rock, new wave, and pop. They crashed the music scene in 1977 with their classic self-titled debut, and helped expand the boundaries of the early MTV-era. They sold 25 million albums in the U. S. that spawned over a dozen Top 40 hits, with all six of their studio releases reaching platinum status.

Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr created a diversified, one-two vocal punch, combined with Elliot Easton's precise guitar solos, David Robinson's innovative drum sound and Greg Hawkes' jack-of-all-trades keyboards and gadgets. Current status: Enshrined in 2018 (Yes, this writer was there!)