Who Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? : The Record The annual list of inductees to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame spurs debate among fans and industry insiders alike.
NPR logo

Who Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/166921310/166938350" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Who Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

Who Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/166921310/166938350" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


And let's stay with music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's class of inductees for 2013 will be announced today at a news conference in Los Angeles. While the event generally prompts high-fives among fans of the winners, the list also provokes an annual debate over who gets in and why.

For member station WCPN, David C. Barnett tries to decode the process.

DAVID C. BARNETT, BYLINE: Cleveland's Blue Arrow Records is a refuge for lovers of vintage vinyl. And among the music fans flipping through the bins, you'll find no lack of opinions about performers missing from the city's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For Lance Kaull, it's one of the original boy bands.

LANCE KAULL: The Monkees, what they did for rock and roll, they should absolutely be in there.

BARNETT: Store owner Pete Gulyas asks why Roxy Music has been snubbed.

PETE GULYAS: If it's about the bands that influence other bands, then they certainly should be in the discussion.


BARNETT: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation oversees the nomination process. Its head, Joel Peresman, chafes at the frequent suggestion that the inductees are picked by a handful of guys in a smoked-filled room.

JOEL PERESMAN: That's just not true. It's truly a committee of people that are smart. It's truly a committee of people that care. These people know what they're talking about.

BARNETT: There are approximately 35 members of the nominating committee, including a mix of music journalists, scholars, performers and businesspeople. But there's still a problem with that group, according to Neil Walls. He runs the website Future Rock Legends, which is devoted to the minutia of the nominating process.

NEIL WALLS: Most of them were born in late '40s and mid '50s. And so they had their teenage years during the '60s, when rock and roll was really, you know, exploding. So there have been more inductees that had their first record in the 1960s than all the other decades combined.

BARNETT: The committee creates a list of about 15 Hall of Fame nominees, who are voted on by a group of about 600 past inductees and others in the music industry. According to published Rock Hall guidelines, inductees are picked based on their influence and the significance of their contributions. Performers are only eligible for the honor 25 years after the release of their first recording.

Musician and journalist Greg Tate says there's even a problem with that.

GREG TATE: It might be a little too early to talk about how that music made a lasting contribution to American culture. And I think if you're talking about even the 50-year mark, you're more in an acceptable zone of measuring impact and significance.

BARNETT: But rock and roll is a music for the young, and waits for no one. NPR Music critic Ann Powers agrees that the committee was once a bastion of middle-aged white guys, but says there have been efforts to bring in a younger, more diverse membership, which is reflected in recent hip-hop nominees and, this year, even Chic and the late Donna Summer.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: Disco is really influential among a lot of young artists today, both in urban music and hip-hop, and even in indie rock. I mean, young rock artists really like disco music. That was not true of earlier generations.

BARNETT: Despite the new mix of artists, one of the biggest criticisms of the nominating process is its secrecy. Rock Hall watchdog Neil Walls suggests following the example set by the Baseball Hall of Fame, which publishes the results of its nominating process each year.

WALLS: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could do itself a big favor, I think, by being a lot more open about its process. It's just a very closed system that would benefit from opening it up a little bit.

BARNETT: But the Rock Hall's Joel Peresman argues that it's disrespectful to start parsing the relative popularity of the nominees.

PERESMAN: The ones that get in, they're in. I mean, it doesn't matter whether they came in first or they came in sixth.

BARNETT: For the time being, journalist Greg Tate doesn't see any end to the back-and-forth between the Hall of Fame and its critics.

TATE: They're kind of pushing people's buttons and they're kind of provoking a conversation about these things. And that's cool, because it's not like it's going to ever be resolved to anyone's satisfaction. It's not like anybody can shut the conversation down.

BARNETT: Back at Blue Arrow Records, clerk Tom DeChristofaro proves that you don't even have to be a fan to join the party.

TOM DECHRISTOFARO: I don't like Kiss, like, at all. I hate that band, but I can't - it's, like, ridiculous that they're not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They're like one of the biggest bands of all time.

BARNETT: Well, that's one man's opinion.


BARNETT: For NPR News, I'm David C. Barnett in Cleveland.


GREENE: Partying every morning at MORNING EDITION, from NPR News, I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.


Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.