January 6, 2017

Forever Snubbed? 15 Artists Never Nominated for the Rock Hall

Hope springs eternal, but the Rock Hall can sure put that old saw to the test. If you're an eligible artist whose first release was 25-plus years ago, and you're still not in the Rock Hall, you're in good company (or... in Bad Company).

One can't help but marvel at just a random sampling of the noteworthy-to-genius artists that have never received a single nomination. In an increasingly variable Rock Hall ballot climate that has seen everyone from Bad Brains to Steppenwolf to the Replacements getting a nod, there would appear to be a huge swath of "never-nominateds" whose odds are as good as anyone's.

Here are 15 acts that, according to Future Rock Legends, have zero Rock Hall nominations to date (and yes, there are many, many more). Let your eyes go wide, or roll them, at your leisure:

Bad Company
Bad Company - 18 years eligible, with hits such as "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Can't Get Enough," this British supergroup led by singer Paul Rodgers seems to fit right into the classic rock-friendly Rock Hall classes of late.

Pat Benatar - Benatar's merits were previously extolled in this space. Again, with the Hall tilting toward populist, FM radio-friendly rock, and the ongoing gender disparity within the institution, this overdue icon could rightfully get a nomination. Eligible since 2004. (Update: After her second nomination, Benatar will be inducted into the Rock Hall Class of 2022.)

Captain Beefheart
Captain Beefheart - The late, great Don Van Vliet has been eligible for 26 years, but so far no Rock Hall love for his avant-transgressive yet highly influential art-rock. A cohort and collaborator with Frank Zappa (check out the album Bongo Fury), Captain Beefheart is an outlier that the already-inducted Tom Waits (and unabashed fan PJ Harvey) would surely admit cribbing from a little. Could be an Early Influences candidate, and the musical performance at the ceremony could simply be a klezmer band falling down a stairwell.

Dick Dale Eligible for a whopping 30 years, "The King of the Surf Guitar" has yet to feel the Hall's gnarly wave of recognition crest over him. With his knack for reverb and distortion, not to mention his signature plucking style, his influence was especially great on hard rock and metal. Among many other accomplishments, Dale's "Misirlou" was used to striking effect in the movie Pulp Fiction.

The Guess Who
The Guess Who This past October, the Rock Hall nominated The Guess Who's fellow Canadians Steppenwolf, which was the second biggest surprise of the ballot after Bad Brains. It's difficult not to draw parallels; if they're willing to recognize the Great White North's John Kay and company, then it's not a stretch to think The Guess Who is just as worthy, with huge hits like "American Woman," "These Eyes," and "No Time." Their membership included Randy Bachman, who went on form Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Jethro Tull There are some artists with uncanny, heavy-rotation songs that feel forever imprinted on rock fans' cerebellums; Jethro Tull, eligible for 24 years now, is one of these, with "Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath," and "Bungle in the Jungle" to their credit. Not critical favorites really, so that might speak to why their conceptual, flute-driven rock/folk/prog hybrid hasn't resonated with the Hall. But that certainly hasn't been a problem for other critically-loathed acts like KISS and Journey.

Joy Division
Joy Division Dark wave post-punk legends that set a navel-gazing template for so many artists that came after them, from the Smiths (nominated twice) to Nine Inch Nails (nominated twice) to Radiohead (a strong bet for 2018) and many others. They disintegrated upon singer Ian Curtis' death in 1980, then morphed into electronic-pop masters New Order. Many will tear this suggestion apart, but let's go radical here: A joint Joy Division/New Order induction (a  la the Small Faces/Faces maneuver in 2012) could spike the chances of either of these bands getting in anytime soon. 

King Crimson - Yes fans have to be thrilled they're finally getting inducted, and Rush got in in 2013, but all concerned would still bow down to King Crimson, the consensus titans of prog-rock. Much like Kraftwerk forged a standard for electronic music, KC's Robert Fripp and a gigantic cast of instrumental wizards (Adrian Belew, Ian McDonald, Tony Levin, the late Greg Lake and many others) set the prog blueprint. Eligible for 24 years.

The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues It's always darkest before the dawn; even though the Moody Blues' Justin Hayward recently said "It's too late now" for the Rock Hall nomination, this drought is likely coming to an end, possibly as early as next year. Every time a snubbed artist says they don't care, and "it's for the fans anyway," you can almost guarantee a nomination. Eligible for 28 years. (Update: The Moody Blues received their first nomination in October of 2017, and that December, they were announced as inductees for the Class of 2018.)

Harry Nilsson - A deeply respected '70s singer-songwriter with some truly genius songwriting and a notorious lust for life. His achievements include "One" (covered famously by Three Dog Night), "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'." Two years ago, the late Nilsson made Rolling Stone's list of "The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time" so there might be some real hope of a nomination.

Peter, Paul and Mary
Peter, Paul and Mary Folk icons of the 1960s who interpreted many Dylan songs ("Blowin' in the Wind," "The Times They Are-A Changin'"), performed at the 1963 March on Washington, and maybe just saw their Rock Hall fortunes increase with this April's induction of socially conscious peer Joan Baez. Eligible since 1987.

Roxy Music Eligible since 1997, Roxy music emerged out of London in 1971 and went on to deeply impact glam, new wave, and anything that might be described as art-rock. In a career trajectory that took them from the cutting-edge to a suave sophistication, Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno and company created legendary music with plenty of disciples. Influence and musical excellence? No question. (Update: Roxy Music received their first nomination in 2018, and were announced as official inductees for the Rock Hall Class of 2019.)

Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy - Whiskey in the jar, and Lizzy in the Hall? 21 years eligible, these Irish hard rockers with a dangerous two-guitar attack and the compelling, gritty lyrics of late singer-bassist Phil Lynott would be a welcome addition to any Rock Hall ballot. It's tough to see them getting much attention before the likes of Motörhead and Judas Priest, hard rock/heavy metal-wise, but let's face it: pecking order has never been a priority of this insitution, so Thin Lizzy has to remain a valid part of the conversation. (Update: 1 nomination in 2019 for the Class of 2020, still not inducted.)

T. Rex During their glam-tastic ten-year run, T. Rex, led by singer-guitarist Marc Bolan, created such indelible monster hits as "Bang a Gong (Get it On)" and "20th Century Boy." The band influenced many a genre (punk, new wave/new romantic, metal), not to mention the New York Dolls, the Smiths, and Oasis, to name just a few. The flamboyance and glitter ended with Bolan's death in a 1977 car accident, but the music has definitely lived on. Eligible since 1993. (Update: Nominated in 2019, and inducted in the Class of 2020.)

Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon 23 years eligible now, Los Angeles' late bard of debauched, razor-witted songcraft would fit right into the Rock Hall ballot's singer-songwriter slot (think 2013 inductee Randy Newman). Will it take "Lawyers, Guns and Money"? Well, it might only take Paul Shaffer, who jammed with Zevon many times on the Letterman show, and is a key advocate/Rock Hall insider. Inducting this guy could also yield a terrific induction ceremony performance: Imagine what former Zevon collaborator Bruce Springsteen or even artistic descendant Father John Misty could do with that material.